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
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. Shannon Website
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.
Copyright © 2019  Barry M. Baker  
Police Author
T.R. Shannon