Editor's note: Cop Tales are true stories as told by law enforcement officers from all over the country. The stories are told in the first person.

My partner and I were patrolling the freeways when we observed a vehicle straddling three lanes of traffic. They had “Just Married” on the rear window and some cans dragging from behind.

We made a traffic stop and the driver was in his tuxedo and his new bride was in her wedding gown. I told him he had too much to drink and advised him to step out of the car.

She looked over at me and said, “But Officer, it’s our wedding night.” He then told me they were just trying to get to their hotel.

I told him it was illegal to drink and drive and for him to get in the back seat. He started to walk back to our patrol car. I stopped him and said, “Not my car, your car.”

I had him get in the back seat of his car. I got in his driver’s seat and drove them to the hotel while my partner followed us. I then handed him the keys and said, “This was your present from the Highway Patrol, don’t ever drink and drive again.”

They were so excited and appreciative. I wonder how many times they repeated that story. (Of course, that was a few years ago. An officer wouldn’t be able to do that today.)

— B.S.


Years ago, I had just finished working the beloved 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift on patrol for the sheriff’s department. I had a long shift with plenty of paperwork and was extremely tired.

I left work, I entered my car, threw a black jacket on over my uniform and headed home. I noticed that I was low on gas so I stopped at the ampm gas and deli store. It was about 3:20 a.m. as I sat on my heels bent over pumping gas and looking forward to going to bed.

At this time, I heard a very loud screeching of cars and looked up to see two vehicles sliding into the ampm's parking lot near the pumps. Three males got out of one car and three males get out of the other car and started fighting.

As I watched, I considered getting in my car and sneaking out of there. That consideration changed when I noticed one male go to his car and pull out a chain and start hitting the other guys.

Fearful of someone getting seriously hurt, I pulled my jacket off and ran over to the fight. No one else was in the area except the attendant inside the gas station.

I yelled for the subjects to stop fighting while standing near them in full uniform. I got no response so I pulled out my firearm and told them to hit the ground.

I had them lying on their stomachs, three on each side of me. I got the attention of the attendant inside the station and gestured for him by voice and hand gestures to call the police to respond to his station. The attendant nodded.

I waited as the subjects on the ground got antsy. I again yelled at the attendant through the open door to call the police. The attendant again acknowledged me.

It seemed like an hour and the city had not responded. I walked over to the door and asked the attendant if he called the police for me and understood my gestures.

He said he understood me, but in a real rude, nasty manner slid his phone over to me saying, "No, I didn't call the police, you do it yourself." I called the police who responded with three units.

I told the officers what I had observed. I told them that I didn't think anyone was seriously hurt so they could do whatever they wanted with these guys, but the attendant WAS MINE.

I was trying to protect the males from serious harm and the ampm property without ever asking the attendant to fight or get involved, and he wouldn’t even make a phone call to help me.

I arrested the attendant and closed down his store. I had a deputy respond to transport him to the jail where he was charged with 150 PC (which states that any able body person who refuses to assist law enforcement during a breach of peace is guilty of "posse comitatus"). He pled guilty and paid a fine.

— D.L.


When I first came to the job, my first assignment was in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. Now even though I was 23 years old, I probably looked like I was 17 (by the way, I don't look young for my age anymore).

I was patrolling the freeway when I noticed a disabled vehicle parked in the center median. I pulled in behind the vehicle and offered the driver a ride off the freeway, which she gladly accepted.

As we entered traffic and proceeded to the next exit, I noticed through my peripheral vision that she was staring at me. After a bit, she finally said, "Does your mother know you're out here with a gun?"

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 bmsmith778@gmail.com.

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