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 evening, two weeks before Christmas, while patrolling as a Highway Patrol officer, I drove past a nursery and noticed the gates were closed. There were people inside the gate passing Christmas trees over the locked gates to people on the outside. The men were then putting the trees in the back of a pick-up truck.

I pulled over to investigate. One of the men on the inside of the gate told me he was the owner and he was giving some Christmas trees to some friends. When I asked him why he didn’t open the gate, he told me he left home and forgot the keys. I then asked him for his identification. He told me he didn’t have any identification with him either. I then told him he would have to get someone to bring his identification to the location so I knew he was not stealing the trees. He became irate and told me it was his business and I had no right to tell him what to do with it. I told him he would be correct if I knew it was truly his business. He then started calling me names and yelling at me. I told him I was only making sure the business was not being burglarized and if he truly was the owner, he should appreciate it.

When he finally got his wife to respond with the keys and his identification, he showed them to me and said, “There, are you (expletive) happy?” I advised him I was satisfied and although it wasn’t very professional of me, I handed him back his identification and told him, “The next time I drive by your business, I won’t care if I see people carrying your cash register out the front door. I won’t stop and investigate it.” Of course, you know I would, but I wanted him to get the message. I’m sure he never got that message though.

— BS


One of the most dangerous calls a police officer can be dispatched to is a “Family Disturbance.” You never know what to expect when you arrive, but you have to be ready for anything. On a summer evening, I received a call of a family disturbance.

When I arrived, two ladies were talking on the sidewalk in front of the house. The garage door was open leading into the house. The wife who called it in was talking to a neighbor. I asked her the location of her husband. She said he was inside, and he was drunk. Before entering the house, I asked her if he had any weapons. She said he had a rifle. My back up officer arrived, and we walked through the garage, toward the door that led into the kitchen. My partner was right behind me.

I opened the door and when I stepped inside, my heart went up into my throat. The first thing I saw was the lady's drunk husband sitting in a chair facing the door. He was holding a 30-06 rifle in his lap, and it was pointed right at me with his finger on the trigger. I talked him into removing his hand, then I grabbed the rifle from him. I checked it, and discovered there was a round in the chamber. He was arrested without incident, and we took the rifle as evidence.

If he had fired, he would have taken out both my partner and I. I truly believe that he was waiting for his wife to walk through the door. If she did, she would have been shot. Thankfully, he realized that it wasn't his wife, and he didn't pull the trigger. Unfortunately for my partner, about a year or so after that incident, he was struck and killed by a drunk driver while directing traffic.

— BB


I was working a patrol assignment when a subject called to report another subject harassing him. I arrived and spoke to the reporting party. He nonchalantly told me that the suspect had threatened him, but had left. As I was writing the incident report, the reporting person stopped and pointed to a man across the street and identified him as the suspect. My partner and I walked across the street to contact the suspect, but he took off running. We chased him for 200 yards or so and caught up with him as he climbed a fence. We were able to get him to the ground where we handcuffed him.

When I picked him up, I located a loaded, 12 gauge sawed off shotgun in his clothing. I took him back to my patrol car, then spoke to the reporting party again. I asked him about the shotgun. He matter-of-factly told me, “Oh yeah, he was armed and threatened to kill me.” I then asked him, “Don’t you think you should have told me that to begin with?”

— DS

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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