Cow County CHIP's
collection of short stories
describe high speed
pursuits, heart breaking
traffic accidents, drunk
drivers, physical
confrontations, unsolved
murders, character
studies of police officers
and civilians, ethical
Cow County CHIP
by T. R. Shannon
From “Three Strikes”

The “angry hornets” buzz from the black
machine as it flashed by could only come
from a high-revving Japanese four-
cylinder motorcycle, a fast and powerful
type of bike….The helmetless, white male
rider leaned the machine over at an
extreme angle  as he disappeared from
sight in a left curve…..I braked hard,
dived into a wide gravel shoulder, made a
spinning U-turn, “mashed“ the big Dodge
Polara’s accelerator pedal, and took off in
pursuit….When the next brief glimpse of
the speeding machine came, it was a
good half-mile ahead; the rider had
gained a lot more distance on me than I
had anticipated. I had been pushing the
patrol car pretty hard already, but
increased my speed to the fastest
reasonably safe rate this twisty and
narrow road allowed, up to 90 mph on
the short straight stretches, slowing to
around 55 mph in the tighter curves….
Previous pursuits had taught me a car
that handles well can take curves faster
than a motorcycle, and I knew the roads,
so it was a rare occurrence for me to lose
a chase.  However, I was beginning to
think this might be the exception. But it
was not. While cornering my Dodge hard
through a limited-vision left curve at
Paloma Road, the bike and rider
reappeared, directly ahead and down in
my westbound lane….

From “The Quiet One”

….Skid marks and vehicle debris indicated
the driver had inattentively allowed the
Volvo to drift onto the northbound gravel
shoulder and then over-corrected,
jerking the steering wheel hard left to get
back onto the roadway, resulting in the
vehicle going into a sideways skid and
overturning….The Volvo’s body was badly
damaged due to rolling twice, but the
passenger compartment was intact; the
baby would almost certainly have come
out with minor bruises at most if he had
been secured in a restraint system….The
tragedy in this collision was the death of
the baby boy and the eternal sorrow and
self-blame of the mother. However, my
most haunting image is of the teenage
girl’s outstretched arms and tortured wail
as I walked past her.

From “The French Door”

….Quickly jumping out, I hollered, “Hold it
you’re under arrest.” Obviously
unimpressed with my commanding voice,
he stumbled toward his front porch.  I
had to go around my car to pursue him
and was a few steps behind as he
climbed the stairs, yanked open the door
and slammed it in my face. It was a
French door; he flung it so hard that one
of the panes fell out, shattering into
fragments at my feet.  I felt no need to
push my way in at this point, always
preferring persuasion over force, but my
attempts to reason with him were of no
avail.  He alternated between glaring at
me with angry “pig eyes,” pug nose
pressed against the glass, and repeatedly
yanking the door open, shouting
profanities, then slamming the door so
hard that a new pane or panes fell out
and shattered almost every time. It wasn’
t long before so much glass was missing
we could have exchanged pleasantries
with the door closed, but apparently he
failed to notice.  Abruptly, he turned
around and stumbled away; the time for
talk was over.  I jerked the door open
and caught up with him as he neared
what I assumed was his bedroom door.  I
feared he might be intending to grab a
firearm….Grabbing his right shoulder, I
spun him around and sprayed his face
with mace.  Mace leaves most people
gasping for breath, eyes so blurred they
can hardly see. Usually it does, but not
always.  He seemed unfazed and
lumbered toward me…..He was advancing
and reaching for me as though to get me
in a “bear hug” as I backed away.  I
reached the door, no plan other than not
worried enough as yet to draw my pistol,
an action to be avoided unless I found it
necessary to shoot him. I was
determined to avoid a wrestling match
however, a no-win contest for me….        
A CHP officer is regularly referred to as a
Chippy, and rural counties which support
herds of cattle are known as Cow
Counties, thus the title of this 350 page
book containing 128  true short-stories.
The vast majority of clients a highway
patrol officer encounters are decent
citizens who need a driver improvement
lesson (a common teaching method is a
costly ticket), whereas many big-city
police officers regularly deal with the
dregs of society. Both city cops and
highway patrol officers handle many
serious injuries and violent deaths, the
major difference being most highway
fatalities are due to driving mistakes, not
deliberate vicious acts.

While there is one account of a brutal
unsolved murder, the stories in Cow
County Chip are not sensational accounts
about bringing nefarious criminals to
justice. Rather, the book portrays the
varied experiences and emotions of a
particular CHP officer. Striving for human
interest as opposed to Just the facts Ma’
am police report type writing, it is
presented in a conversational first-
person style. All cops have stories of
tragedies, danger and even humor, but
each officer’s experiences are unique in
that they are experienced from different
T. R. “Ticket Ted” Shannon followed an
erratic life’s path prior to becoming a
California Highway Patrol officer at thirty-
one years of age: some college, seven years
as a logger, one year as an apprentice
mechanic, and five years as a City of
Eureka firefighter. Almost all of the 128
short stories in Cow County CHIP were
gleaned from his twenty-three and one-half
year CHP career, twenty-one of which were
served in rural Calaveras County in
California’s Sierra Nevada foothills.
quandaries, humor, and other events that
went well beyond routine activities.
Police Author
T.R. Shannon
T. R. Shannon Website

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