True Cop Stories
L. D. Alan has written 36 short True Cop Stories about her work and the good and bad guys she met working first as a small town police officer in the 1970s. L. D. was often referred to as a pioneer in law enforcement because she was female and there were few females working from a police or patrol vehicle back then. Later L. D. became a Highway Patrol Officer and in later years in her career she promoted to Sergeant I and then Sergeant II rank . L. D.’s career spanned 22 years with this agency. L. D. worked in a diverse number of assignments. She earned her Bachelor Degree while working full-time and raising three children. L. D. began her career with the State law enforcment agency as a reserve Highway Patrol Officer and 21 years later retired to work an additional year as a civilian reserve. L.D.’s total law enforcement career service spanned 26 years.
How law enforcement functioned. The challenges a female officer faced back in the mid 1970s and 1980s, and the changes in policing that spanned the 26 years of her career are shown in L. D.’s short stories.
True Cop Stories…the names of people, places and things were changed to protect the innocent and guilty equally. L. D. hopes you enjoy the short stories.
I’ll Shoot Your *^%> Off! – About 2100 or 9pm I was dispatched to a local convenience store parking lot. The victim of a hit and run was waiting there. I arrived and located 2 young women who told me that 2 guys in a truck had clipped the side panel of their car in another parking lot, had threatened them not to report the accident, and then had followed the girls when they left the accident scene. The girls said they were afraid to go home in case the two guys might follow them. They came to the store so they could call the police.
The girls pointed to a beat up brown Ford truck parked about 500 feet to the right and three parking lanes from their car. As we were talking, one guy got out of the pickup and crossed the parking lot and went into the store. I recognized him as one of the ‘local” problems. “Wayne” was always getting into bar fights or some kind of petty crime. I kept watching the other guy in the truck while I called in the vehicle’s plate number to check on ownership.
The two girls continued to act very scared. I told the girls to get back in their car, lock the doors and wait while I talked to the two men. Just then Dispatch came back with the name of the truck owner. The guy had a reputation for liking to fight cops. The last time the Sheriff’s deputies arrested him he put two of them in the hospital.
I had dispatch run a check on “Wayne” and it came back with two misdemeanor warrants outstanding. Mr. Tough Guy’s wants and warrants check came back with him being on probation. I requested backup and decided to wait for it to arrive before making any approach.
Things don’t always go like you plan. Wayne came out of the store. Mr. Tough Guy got out of the truck-all 6’7″ and 280lbs. It was obvious he was drunk. He was swearing, staggering near the door of his truck and yelling at me to “come on and try to take him down”.
Backup was at least 7 to 10 minutes away. I decided I wasn’t going to the hospital that night. I told Mr. Tough Guy and Wayne to stay where they were. Tough guy just laughed and said he was going to beat me to a pulp. Wayne stood where he was with hands and arms in the air. Tough guy kept coming. He was taking off his belt to use as a weapon. I drew my weapon and told Mr. Tough Guy I was a female cop and if he got any closer I’d shoot his ^%$#>> off! Red necks like Tough Guy think females are only good for abusing. He finally focused on the gun I had aimed at him and slowed down and stopped.
In the meantime ,Wayne had thrown himself on the ground and was yelling “Don’t shoot me lady cop!” Tough guy looked at me with my drawn weapon aimed at him and then at his buddy Wayne on the ground. Wayne helped the situation without meaning to! He yelled at Mr. Tough Guy, “She’s a fee-male–she’ll probably gut shoot you!” Tough Guy seemed to hesitate and then he dropped to the ground and spread eagle while cursing me.
I held them at gun point until backup arrived. Six cop cars with lights flashing and sirens wailing arrived with the officers ready to take on Mr. Tough Guy. They piled out of their vehicles with night sticks at the ready. Don’t know if my cop buddies were disappointed or not when they saw there wouldn’t be a ‘take down” on Mr. Tough Guy…no fight. They cuffed Wayne and Mr. Tough Guy and transported them to jail for me. I called in for a tow truck to impound the Ford truck and finished doing the accident information gathering needed for my reports. Mr. Tough Guy went back to prison. Wayne’s misdemeanor warrants were dismissed (jurisdictions for the warrants didn’t want to spend the time and money to transport him for misdemeanors when they knew he was going down on a felony). He was charged and convicted for threatening the 2 girls at the accident scene. Would I really have shot Mr. Tough Guy if he had kept advancing on me? That’s a question I never had to answer.
Sweet Sixteen-I was busy working with a new officer just out of the academy. 4 weeks with me as his training officer on the job. My job was to observe and evaluate how he patrolled and responded to all types of calls from dispatch. This particular “trainee” seemed to have some kind of weirdness dogging him…like almost every shift we seemed to catch a traffic accident to investigate. The one he caught this shift was really bad. One of the worst I ever responded to. About 3 AM we get called out to a 2-car head on collision with fire involved. The motorist calling it in driving across the Indian reservation- a state highway runs through it. The Reservation police responded first and then requested Highway Patrol assist. We arrived at the scene: a 2-lane highway, Eastbound on an incline, with mountain cuts (rock walls carved out to make the highway. As soon as I got out of the patrol vehicle I smelled the horrific odor of burning /burnt flesh. My “rookie” approached the two entangled vehicles, stopped, and then whipped around, ran past me, and seconds later I heard him retching up whatever was in his stomach. This would be a tough one. The vehicles were still hot and smoking some. It was obvious all three persons in the two cars were dead. The Lieutenant from the Reservation Police took off shortly after we arrived. We ran the plates while we waited for the vehicles to cool, the ME to arrive, and ambulances and tow trucks. I got the “rookie” busy setting up pylons for traffic control and kept him busy getting 10-28 /29 (vehicle ID and wants-warrants information). In the vehicle that crossed the line- hit the 2nd vehicle- was a male driver. The victims’ vehicle had 2 teenagers inside. I kept hoping they died of smoke inhalation before the fire got to them. Later learned this to be true of one victim. The other was not so fortunate. This accident scene was something no one should see. The 2 teens were on their way to a pageant-one was a contender. The male had just graduated earlier the preceding evening from a State university, went out celebrating and then decided to try and drive the 70+ miles to his home. We got local police who knew the family of the 2 teens to give the notifications. My rookie and I had the hardest notification to give. We had to tell the wife/family of the male driver that he was dead; worse–we had to tell them he had been DUI and caused the death of 2 innocents. The two girls remained “sweet 16″ forever in the minds and hearts of those who knew and loved them. For several years after investigating this tragic accident I would wake up from a nightmare and could still smell the burnt flesh of those 2 young girls. It was a tough assignment even for a veteran. My “rookie” went forward in his career as a cop and became an accident reconstruction expert!
Traveling Circus – I was patrolling a stretch of a divided 2-lane state highway. It was hot. Always is in the desert! Traffic was light. I was close to a high accident stretch of roadway and was looking for a place to mark off for distance to use with a stop watch to catch speeders. Across the dirt barrier in the opposite direction I saw a 74 Ford pickup with an over-sized/over head camper pulling a beat up horse trailer. I crossed the barrier and saw the trailer plate was mangled. The license plate was covered in mud. Only a male driver visible. Speed only 35 mph. Something didn’t feel right. The driver slowed to 25 in a 55MPH speed limit. I decided to see what his problem was. The mud covered license plate is Probable Cause for a traffic stop. I got out of my patrol vehicle and approached. The driver jumps out of his truck and starts talking a mile a minute. He’s antsy and keeps talking louder. His nails are dirty, dirt is ground into his skin, his clothes stink, and his hair is full of what looks like lice. I hear some noises coming from inside the camper. He tells me no one is inside. I hear a whimpering sound. The man’s lying and covering up something. I put on the cuffs and tell him he is detained while I find out who/what is crying inside his truck. I climb inside- find 2 very small, dirty, undernourished kids-a boy and a girl. I ask them their names and they just keep crying. I climb out and walk back to check the horse trailer before I call the stop in and get some help. I find a pitiful small miniature pony that is skin and bones. The guy’s yelling his head off now screaming that he works the circus circuit. I get on the radio and call for DES (welfare) and for the County animal control. The kids look sick and they have old bruises on their arms and legs. When I get through searching for paperwork in the truck I run his license and get a hit on the driver. Seems 5 years ago he took off with his kids during a visitation and disappeared. He’s wanted in California. He has several other wants & warrants. I learn that the kids have never attended school and he treats them like he does that poor pony! Jail is too good for this SOB. My satisfaction is the kids had a family waiting to love and care for them. I never did get that distance marked off for clocking speeders that day. That’s okay. Lots of days to get speeders. Not every day you get to return lost/kidnapped kids to their family!
The Hobo – Working patrol about 15 miles out of a small rural Arizona town. Get a call from dispatch- man sleeping on rock overhanging the highway. It’s noon, sun blazing hot at 112degrees. I approach the milepost and to my left see what looks like a hobo asleep on a flat faced rock-backpack at his side. I pull over and let dispatch know I have to climb the trail up as the hobo isn’t responding to lights, siren, or outside speaker. Things don’t look good and as I sweat and climb-things don’t smell good! I inch my way across the rock face-check his pulse, Nada. Using a hand held radio (remember its 1982) I call for an ambulance and the Med Ex. I got a DOA with no ID. Six hours later after a search of the scene, photos, body removal, etc. I am at the morgue. Advised the autopsy will be the next morning. Next day the OME’s prelim report- cause of death: natural causes. No injury found. The man’s heart just stopped. Buried as an Unknown.
The Sad Lady – I was just getting ready to leave the Sheriff’s Office-my shift had ended with a DUI arrest. Two cops from a small rural town brought in a tall, thin, elderly woman. Her hair was messed up and she was wearing a night gown and flannel robe. She was sobbing and wailing. She was in her 70′s and seemed to be unaware of where she was. The cops said she was running up and down the street throwing rocks at her neighbor’s windows. It was 1 AM! What was this poor woman doing out at that time and why was she throwing rocks and breaking windows? I told the two cops they should take her to the hospital. They said they did that, but the hospital wouldn’t keep her there. They couldn’t locate a judge to commit her so she would have to be locked up until Monday. It was a Friday night. The jail cells were dank and cold. No place for this woman. There wasn’t even a matron. The woman saw me and called me by a name I later learned was her deceased daughter’s name. This woman was alone. No family-no relatives. They had all preceded her in death. I had 2 days off so I volunteered to stay with her in the jail cell over the week-end. She calmed down when I was around. I was really sorry for this woman who seemed to have gone off the deep end from loneliness. On Monday the Judge signed commitment papers and she was taken to the state hospital for evaluation. I planned to go visit her next week end, but was notified she had just died in her sleep. I really felt bad. Her being so alone. That was the only time in my life I slept in a jail! Cops see and experience all kinds of things during their careers. Some people they never forget.
Debris in the Roadway– I was about 20 miles from the Arizona-New Mexico State line having a coffee break at the Port of Entry station when dispatch called and reported debris in the roadway about 30 miles west. I had been inspecting 18 wheelers and had put a couple drivers out of service for too many hours and serious defects to their rigs. As usual the “debris” was not described so I had no idea what I would find once I got to the location. The drive was uneventful as this is a lonely stretch of roadway. Arizona desert and small foothills. No towns or ranches visible-very sparse traffic. It was hot-a July 110 degrees and I had the air conditioner cranked up to high. I crested a small hill and saw the debris. Must have been 3 dozen or so bales of hay scattered all over the roadway. No vehicle in site. Who ever lost the load didn’t stop to retrieve it. I called in my arrival and said I’d be out of my vehicle for an extended time. Yep-there was no one around to remove the debris but me. About 30 minutes into the job of hooking the bales to my front push bar and moving the bales to the side of the road, I heard an 18 wheeler start down the hill coming towards me. I was surprised when the trucker pulled over to the side of the roadway, set out his pylons at the rear of his rig, and without saying anything to me started hefting bales of hay out of the road. About 10 minutes later another 18 wheeler approaches and pulls in behind the first truck. This guy gets out and he also begins hefting bales of hay out of the roadway. I walk back to where they are working and give them a smile and nod. They just nod back and keep working. About 45 minutes later the road is clear. Before I can thank either trucker, I see them getting into the cabs and hear the gears change as they pull onto the roadway. As they drive by they give me a couple blasts on the horn and tip the brims of their cowboy hats. Couple weeks later I was doing a truck inspection and told this story to the driver. I put his rig out of service. He signed the paperwork and said thank you. Told me the inspection report made his employer fix things he had been asking them to fix for months and the out of service meant he’s get some much needed sleep while waiting for the repair guy to show up. Told me the truckers helped me most likely because I had done the same good deed for them at one time or another! A Big Shout Out to all you Roadway Truckers from AZ HP – 2867.
Not My Fault, Officer! – Cruising on patrol. 20 miles in front-behind me nothing but beautiful Arizona desert and rugged mountain. Little traffic. Up ahead-opposite direction, a fast moving vehicle-weaving-the driver with his arm out waving at me as his vehicle came almost horizontal and seemed to accelerate. “Okay-Wanna play at chase. I’m game!” I whipped a U-E , flipped lights and siren on, and began pursuit. The driver sped up-still frantically waving his arm. Nothing coming in the opposite direction so at close to 85 miles an hour (in a 55 MPH speed limit) I pull alongside and motion for him to pull over. Instead he drives off the roadway into the desert. Bouncing and creating a dust up obliterating his vehicle. A loud grinding sound and wheels spinning- digging into the sand- the driver’s door flies open and the driver tumbles out. I’m out of my vehicle, weapon drawn-waiting for dispatch to tell me if the car is stolen. The driver just lies in the dirt thanking God out loud. He tells me the gas pedal stuck and he didn’t have any control of his car so he chanced it that the sand/desert would slow the vehicle down and get stuck. I was glad he wasn’t hurt, just sorry it wasn’t a stolen car or DUI so I could get an arrest, The car was totaled! No ticket from me as the driver experienced enough loss that day.
Almost Blew It! – After 6 months of basic & advanced academy training and now in the last week of an 8 week training with a training officer, I’m on patrol. My Sergeant was riding in the back seat to observe me on the job. He was behind a metal screen we called a ‘cage’ used to keep arrestees away from the officer while being transported to jail. Dispatch assigned me to a hit&run accident with a good description of the hit&run vehicle. I spotted it, going in the opposite direction, did a u-turn- blew a stop sign in the chase. The Sergeant wasn’t wearing a seat belt and got his nose mashed in the cage screen! Yikes! The hit&run driver had a wreck as I caught up to him. I slammed the brakes to a stop and exited my vehicle. When the Sarge opened his door and stepped out it was into space. The patrol wheels were at the edge of an embankment and the Sarge went down the embankment. He was steamed! Looking at his dirt and blood covered uniform and face, I knew I would be washed out. The training officer with his yellow legal pad was busy writing me up for all the dumb stuff I had done. Back in those days, 1981, training officers worked hard at trying to washout female officers. I couldn’t change the mistakes I had made so I just did what I had to do. I arrested the driver, handled the accident scene, booked the arrestee, and interviewed the victims. By 6AM I sat down with the Sarge to hear I was fired. I was sick at my stomach and in a cold sweat. 8 months of training and preparation and I blew it in one night! My training officer was smiling…not a friendly smile. He was happy – first time in 4 weeks. He couldn’t wait to see me fired. The Sarge, cleaning his face with a damp paper towel and looking at me with a hard stare, spoke at last. “I was going to fire your ass, but you didn’t throw in the towel when you knew the outcome after blowing the stop sign and almost putting your patrol vehicle down an embankment. You were tenacious and finished the job in spite of all your mistakes. You are not a quitter.” I slid my eyes to the training officer and watched his grin disappear. I wasn’t fired and the Sarge signed off on the paperwork that I was ready to work solo. Training was complete! Years later when I promoted to Sergeant I got a Congrats note from the Sarge. It sure meant a lot to me!