Cop Tales are true stories as told by law enforcement officers from all over the country. The stories are told in the first person. The actual officer’s initials follow each story.


One day while I was driving in uniform in my Highway Patrol unmarked commander’s car, I pulled up to a vehicle at a red light. I looked over at the young, male driver next to me and noticed he was not wearing a seat belt. When he looked over at me, I tugged on my seat belt to tell him to put on his belt. He nodded, waved and put it on. When the light turned green, he drove off. As we continued, he started to go faster and faster until I noticed he was speeding.

I made a traffic stop and approached his vehicle. I then said to him, “Why would you speed when you knew I was right behind you?” He replied, “I didn’t know you were an officer.” I then stated, “I just motioned for you to put your seat belt on and you complied.” He then said, “I didn’t know you were an officer. I just thought you were a concerned citizen and I figured if you cared enough to tell me to put on my seat belt, I figured I should listen.”

With an attitude like that, there was no way I was going to give him a ticket. I told him to slow down and have a nice day.

— B.S.


Many years ago when I was a Highway Patrol officer, my partner and I came upon a disturbance at a work site where crews were drilling an oil rig near a county road. When we arrived, a bunch of oil workers were standing near a woman. They told us the woman was about to go into labor. We checked and could tell she was about to give birth any minute. I told her we didn’t have time to wait for an ambulance. I told her to get in the patrol car and we would take her to the hospital. I then looked at the man standing next to her and yelled for him to get into the car right away because we had to leave.

When we arrived at the hospital, they immediately took her to the delivery room. The front desk nurse then asked me the woman’s name. I told her I didn’t know, but she could ask her husband. She turned to the man who was with us and asked him. He looked at her and said, “I don’t know her name. I’m not her husband.”

I then asked him why he went with us and why was he there. He then replied, “You yelled for me to get in the car, so I got in the car.” After rolling my eyes, I drove him back to his work site. I then noticed the apparent husband walking toward the hospital with his wife’s overnight bag. I dropped the false dad off at the work site and delivered the real dad at the hospital.

— R.B.


My first assignment out of the Highway Patrol Academy was to work in the desert. Construction was taking place on the freeway, widening it from two to four lanes. The new freeway was above the old road.

I drove up on an accident involving a black Volkswagen with a man lying on the ground outside the car. I rushed to check on him and he informed me that he couldn’t move, but he said he was OK. I noticed the VW about 20 to 30 yards up ahead. It had rolled over and was missing the windshield. After calling for an ambulance and tow truck, I asked what happened.

He informed me that he and his wife were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary and were returning to their home state. They ran off the road and the car rolled over two to three times. He informed me his wife had been ejected and was on the upper road, 10 feet above. I went to look for her and found her to be deceased. She had sustained major injuries to the front of her body which made her unrecognizable.

I went back to the husband and he asked about her condition. I didn’t want to tell him out there at the scene, so I told him I wasn’t sure, but I would call an ambulance. He asked me what my religion was, and when I told him I was Catholic he asked me for some water. Because I patrolled the desert, I always carried a gallon of fresh drinking water.

I thought he was thirsty, but when I gave him the water, he asked if I would go up and baptize his wife. I said OK and I went up and baptized her. I then returned to him and comforted him until the ambulance arrived. As they transported him to the hospital, I told dispatch to call the coroner while I waited with the deceased wife. It was my worst day on the Highway Patrol.

— D.R.

Brian Smith served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, and retired as an assistant chief with the California Highway Patrol. He resides in Bakersfield. If you have a personal “Cop Tale” to share, please contact Smith at

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