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 time when I attended our quarterly all commanders’ meeting for the highway patrol, our commissioner was in attendance. He was always a friendly man, but on this occasion, he was not in a good mood. I usually put my cell phone on vibrate for meetings, but on that day I didn’t want to take any chances. I turned my phone off completely and placed it on the table in front of me.

When we came back from a short break, the commissioner started on a serious discussion. All of a sudden, someone’s cell phone started to ring. I was relieved that it wasn’t mine, since I already turned it off. I was embarrassed for the person who owned that phone. I just couldn’t believe he didn’t turn it off.


The commissioner then looked at me and barked, “Well, are you going to shut that phone off or not?” I picked up my phone and sure enough, it was the one that was ringing. I apologized, and told him I thought mine was already turned off. He then continued with the meeting as I sat in embarrassment.

I then looked across the table and my assistant chief was laughing, then winked at me. I found out that during our break, he turned on my phone and waited for the commissioner to start talking before he called me. He was always pulling pranks like that on us. He actually made meetings a little more interesting.

I’ll just pull the mic over

Many years ago, before the advent of cell phones and GPS, I went on a nighttime ride-along with a reserve deputy. We were patrolling a very remote area about five miles from a small farming town in the western part of the county. Our mission was to put a stop to an ongoing spate of illegal dumping.

About 30 minutes into our assignment, the left-front tire of the patrol car blew out. To our dismay, the spare was flat and there was no jack. The deputy got on the radio and told the dispatcher of our dilemma, but had not yet mentioned our location or the tire size. The dispatcher said he would send a repair truck as soon as he knew our exact location and the tire/wheel information.

The deputy said, with much bravado, “I believe I can stretch the microphone cord out here to the tire. As he pulled the mic to the tire to read off the size, we heard, “SNAP, CRUNCH, POP.” He had pulled the mic cable apart, and we were off the air without divulging the tire size or our location.

That was also before CAD (computer-aided dispatch), and no one knew where we were. We sat out there for two long hours before the county repair truck found us. Aside from two red faces, we were in fine condition. And of course, the illegal dumping continued.

I was a young patrol deputy working the night shift in a very high-end area where there was new construction. I was cruising around when I spotted the glint of a reflection from a car bumper parked in one of the garages of a home under construction.

I turned around and lit the area up with my high-beams and overhead lights. I approached the vehicle and saw that the windows were fogged up, so I tapped on the window.

A guy rolled the window down a couple of inches and said, “We’re OK here,” then rolled it back up. I tapped on the window again, but the guy ignored it. I tried the door and it was unlocked. When the door opened, the girl started screaming.

As it turned out, the 17-year-old girl had gotten into an argument with her boyfriend and decided to walk home. That man abducted her and had just finished stripping her of her clothing when I interrupted him. He was just about to rape her.

Later, that girl’s father, who was a very successful businessman, showed up at the station. He handed me his business card and told me if there was anything I ever wanted, I should call him. Of course, I never took him up on the offer, but it was nice to get the recognition.

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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