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 night while working for the Highway Patrol right before the Christmas holidays, my partner and I received a call of a vehicle into a telephone pole. When we arrived, we saw the body of a young man in his early 20's mangled behind the steering wheel of a Thunderbird. The vehicle center-punched a telephone pole at a high rate of speed. The driver was killed on impact.

While we were investigating it, a motorcycle pulled up and the driver approached us. He was very upset when he saw the accident. He told us that the driver was his best friend. He related that the two of them were at a Christmas party and his friend who was killed had too much to drink. When he saw his friend to leave on a motorcycle, he begged him not to drive and told him he would give him a ride home. His friend declined the ride, so he told him he would be safer if he took his mother’s Thunderbird, instead of the motorcycle. His friend agreed to take the car instead of the motorcycle. Unfortunately, he crashed and died anyway. The next step was that someone had to tell his family that he would not be home for Christmas.

It just proved that driving under the influence is dangerous in any vehicle. As we go into the holiday season, remember to designate a driver, or hire one of the driving services that are available. There is no excuse to drink and drive.

— BS


As a police officer, I received a complaint about aggressive dogs confining a neighbor in their garage. I didn't think much of it, since it happened quite frequently. When I got on scene, the caller told me the neighbor had two aggressive pit bulls that were confining her and two others in the garage. She showed me a video of the dogs, but they appeared to be more curious than in the "attack mode".

I attempted to make contact with the dog owner, but no one answered. After several attempts at knocking on the door, I decided to leave a note on a door hanger. As I was completing the document, the dog owner threw the door open and was immediately confrontational. I asked him what had happened with the dogs at the neighbor's house. He told me he let them out, then called them back. He didn’t answer when I asked him why he just let them run without supervision. I asked him if he understood that it was against the law to let them run around without being under control by the owner. I also asked if he knew they were unlicensed. He told me he was aware. I then told him I would have to take enforcement action. He just replied , “Yup” to everything I told him.

All of a sudden, his voice changed, and he turned cold and disrespectful towards me. I asked him to shut the door, so the dogs didn’t come outside or act aggressively toward me. He reached for the door, and without warning said, "I'm grabbing a smoke." He then shut the door behind him and vanished in the house.

This is where the story changed for me. I was a military police officer for eight years before I became a state certified officer five years ago. In 13 years of law enforcement experience, I have seen my share of craziness and mishaps. However, after standing there for three minutes, something strange came over me. I couldn't move and the world went gray. I felt a sudden sense of impending doom, and a voice inside my head said, “You are going to die."

I advised dispatch that he went inside the house and requested additional units. I was advised more units would respond, but I got that strong impending feeling of death again like I was going to die that day. I felt he was going for a weapon. I immediately told myself, "Not today.” I prepared myself for the inevitable gunfight I knew was coming. I made a plan to neutralize the subject and the dogs so I could stay safe, kiss my wife, hold my children one more time. That voice just warned me again. At that moment, I decided it wasn’t worth it. I put the door hanger on the subject’s truck, canceled the other units and left the scene. I met with the chief and told him I didn't do my job, and didn't write the guy the tickets he deserved. The chief then told me, "You are missing the point. We are speaking now, because you listened to the voice inside and got out of there." I guess sometimes, you just have to listen to your sixth sense.

— CP


One very thick foggy morning on the highway patrol, I was dispatched to a report of a man running in the traffic lanes. I responded as fast as I felt comfortable driving, which was about 20 mph and even that felt too fast in that thick fog. Sure enough, there was a man running along the right outside traffic lane. I pulled up behind him and told him over my loud speaker to move off the roadway and stop. He turned his head and looked at me, but he kept running. I pulled the patrol vehicle ahead of him and got out of the vehicle. He veered to the right of my patrol car, but kept on running back and forth into the traffic lane.

I jumped back in the patrol car and drove past him again, but got out in time to move into his path and stop him. He stood panting for breath, but did not leave the roadway. I asked him what he was doing running in the roadway in the fog. He told me that he had to stay on the road because he could not tell which direction he was going if he lost sight of the highway markings. I tried to explain to him that he could be struck by a vehicle if he continued to run in the roadway since the visibility was so low. He then attempted to lunge past me as I spoke, so I grabbed his arm and pulled him onto the shoulder so we would be out of danger.

I then asked him where he was going that he had to be running down the road. He informed me that he was going to a destination that was two hours away. I then asked him if he knew how far away he was from that location. He replied that it was over a hundred miles and if I would get out of his way, he would be on his way. Before I could respond, he pushed me to the ground and started running south on the roadway again. I jumped up and ran after him. I tackled him after approximately 100 yards, and wrestled him to the ground. About that time, another Highway Patrol officer arrived. We secured the runner and placed him in my patrol vehicle. Considering the struggle I had just holding on to him, I think he really could have ran straight for over 100 miles.

— RS

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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