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True Police Stories

"Courage is the ability to move; when all around you are frozen in fear
and no one would blame you if you did nothing at all." Capt. Click. Phx. PD

My Name is Olin Tefft

Taken from the book Think About it... for your reading convenience

I began a career in law enforcement in about 1975 when I became a reserve deputy for the Maricopa County Sheriffís Office. In 1976, I went to work for the City of Mesa. As I sit and think about the things to say, many incidents come to mind. I could talk about the shooting I was involved in or I could talk about some of the shootings or stabbings Iíve investigated as a detective. Or any of the other senseless crimes of violence Iíve had to deal with. I could tell about my change of attitude toward my fellow man and how I struggle to not lose sight of the good in life. There are many lessons I have learned in my twenty years in law enforcement.

But maybe Iíll tell you instead of the rope of hope that Jesus Christ offers me. The rope of hope that tells me someday, the evil will be separated from the good and all the wrongs will be made right. For Christ truly exists and He has an actual plan for us. He is an organized God and yes, He has one true church. But before I tell you those stories, there is one police story I want to tell you because so many people make their decisions without thinking about the consequences.

I was working a six to two shift in downtown Mesa. This particular night I was given a rookie named Dan to train. We started out on our shift and it was the typical family fights, burglaries, thefts and so on until about 2300 when we received a three car accident call. Radio advised that the accident was a head on with several injuries. When we arrived, we observed that an older Chevy pickup truck had crossed over the center line and had struck head on into a new Ford Thunderbird. A second new Thunderbird then ran into the rear of the first Thunderbird. Both Thunderbirds had temporary registration stickers in their rear windows. Even more ironic, was the fact that both husbands were rushing their pregnant wives to Desert Samaritan Hospital as both were in labor. The Chevy pickup truck was occupied by three guys.

At the accident scene, I interviewed the two drivers of the two Thunderbirds and sent them and their pregnant wives to the hospital in an ambulance. Then I interviewed the driver of the Chevy truck. He told me he was in the bar across the street from the accident playing pool for beers with some white guy and the game turned into an argument. A fight ensued in the bar. This guy and his two friends left the bar and got into their Chevy truck to leave the parking lot. The white guy chased them outside, opened their door, climbed in and proceeded to fight with the three occupants inside the Chevy. The passenger in the middle reached up and bit the nose off of the white guy during the fight and shoved him out of the truck. The three in the Chevy truck then left the bar. The white guy got into his Ford truck and chased after them, ramming them at Broadway and Country Club. This impact knocked the Chevy into the intersection and across traffic into the path of the two husbands trying to get their wives to the hospital. The suspect driver in the Ford then fled the scene. ...All this, over six beers.

Two hours later, our suspect in the Ford showed up at Desert Samaritan Hospital. Dan and I
responded to the hospital to interview him. We walked into the emergency room and found him on a gurney. He looked at us and said, ďOink, oink, oink! It looks real good doesnít it!Ē At that point my rookie left the room and found the nearest restroom and threw up. The sight of a human being that has had his entire nose bitten off is a very gut twisting sight to say the least. I asked him why he took so long to get to the hospital. His reply was that he went home to have another beer.

I left the ER and went into the lobby and started talking to Dean, a graveyard Sergeant and Mike, another officer. The rookie was still in the bathroom. Officers often make fun of gruesome events. Itís never right, but maybe itís like psychologists tell us, maybe itís our way of relieving stress and anxiety. Anyway, we started making jokes about the suspect. I told them that the doctor would have to graft skin from his butt to his face to make a nose for him and that people would call him ďButtface.Ē Mike said, ď Itís no skin off my nose what they call him.Ē We made these comments and others like them, tossing them back and forth until we finally realized that his mother and wife were sitting in the room where we were laughing and joking. Suddenly, it wasnít funny anymore. Suddenly we all wished we hadnít said what we said, but words spoken canít be retracted. I never forgot that experience or the way it made me feel when I realized that his mother and wife were sitting there. Since then, I have seen numerous people hurt in the same way. I often wonder,

 many family members, friends, co-workers or loved ones,
                         are hurt by loose, careless, mean and non-thinking comments.

I then talked with the suspectís wife and mother and learned they were LDS. It seems they were the ones that brought the suspect to the hospital because he was too intoxicated to drive when he arrived home. Our noseless suspect was also LDS. In name anyway. When I talked to his wife and mother I was very sad that these two women had this man in their lives to deal with. Both told me they were active members of the Church and how much pain and anguish this man caused in their lives. I wish I could say there was a happy ending to this story but Iím afraid I canít. The doctor asked me to go back to the bar parking lot and try and find the nose so he could reattach it. I went back and found it but it was in extremely poor condition. It had already been run over at least once. I took it back to the hospital and gave it to the doctor. He looked at it and gave it little chance of successfully reattaching but he said he would try. I saw my noseless friend a little over a year later. To say what I saw was ugly would be flattering. This experience is one Iíve never forgotten because it is applicable to everyday life.

As a police officer I get to see the mistakes and bad choices that people make on a daily basis. In the past twenty years of my law enforcement experience, I can say with authority that a large percentage of crimes and domestic violence are the result of drugs and alcohol use. They diminish or remove completely, the ability to be reasonable. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches abstinence from both. Our noseless suspect was taught that as well but chose to ignore those teachings. Now like so many others, he suffers with the consequences. But even worse, are those around him who love him and have to suffer as well. I am grateful to live in a time when the Lordís true gospel has been restored to the earth. We must live itís principles and teach them to our children. If we refuse to or fail to, the old phrase ďCut off your nose to spite your face,Ē may have a special place in your mind and heart as it now has in mine.

There are many police experiences I could tell you that have helped me build my testimony of the truthfulness of this gospel, but there is another part of my life that I would rather tell you about. These experiences are worth more to me than my police experiences. They come from a time in my life that seems so long ago yet going back there is so refreshing and comforting. Itís a place in my past that helps me make sense of the future and offers me the rope of hope I told you about.

I am a convert to the church. I joined the Church at age nineteen. Most of my friends were LDS and fortunately for me, like Nephi, I was raised by goodly parents. At a young age I realized that it was very important to choose friends wisely. All my really close friends were either LDS or very morally sound people. They didnít drink, smoke, steal or commit any types of crimes. My best friend in the ninth grade just happened to be Sam Jeppsen and now he is my brother-in-law. You see, I married his kid sister. Anyway, Sam tried to get me interested in the Church and I wasnít very receptive. One day I went rabbit hunting with another LDS friend of mine also named Sam. His car broke down and we were stranded for several hours in the desert. During that time Sam talked to me about the Church and this time I listened. When we arrived at Samís home, he gave me a Book of Mormon and I told him I would read it.

               When I returned home to my house, I started to read the book.
                                                   After the first fifty pages I knew the book was true.

I called Sam the next morning and told him I wanted to join the Church. The missionaries came the next day and I was baptized the next Saturday. A year later I was given a mission call to the Indiana, Michigan Mission. I was blessed with many great experiences that strengthened my testimony while I was on that mission. Because I learned the discussions fast, after about three weeks my mission president made me a senior companion and gave me a new junior companion. A guy by the name of Elder Rowley. Rowley and I worked really hard and we had twenty-one people taking the lessons in about eight weeks time. We lived with a stake missionary and his wife. They were the Tapleys. Brother Tapley made a bet with Elder Rowley and I, that we wouldnít baptize anyone this particular month. The bet was for a pizza.

Elder Rowley and I fasted and prayed about the bet and we doubled our efforts to baptize one of our twenty-one people that we were teaching the discussions to. We were coming along well with our investigators, however, it wasnít going to be possible for us to baptize any of them by the end of the month. The Wednesday before the last Saturday of the month, I found an old file box containing investigators that previous missionaries had left behind in our apartment. I started looking through them and I came across the name of a young woman named Sandy. According to the elderís records, Sandy had all six discussions and was attending church. The only problem was the fact the records were over a year old and Sandy was no longer coming to church. I decided to call Sandy to see if she still lived at the same address listed on her file card and maybe find out why she wasnít baptized. I called the phone number and a woman answered the phone. I asked the woman if her name was Sandy and she said it was. I then introduced myself and she responded in a very friendly way. She said ďOh hi Elder, what can I help you with?Ē I asked her if she would like to attend a baptism on Saturday and she responded by asking me who was getting baptized. I then told her it was her baptism. About fifteen seconds of silence went by and Sandy said, ďOK , What time?Ē I then made arrangements with Sandy to be interviewed by my zone leader for her baptism and I met her for the first time with my zone leader. Sandy passed her interview with ease and I then asked her why she hadnít joined the Church earlier. Sandyís answer was simple. She said, ďNo one asked me!Ē

Sandy was baptized before the month ended. However, Brother Tapley failed to keep his end of the bargain. Elder Rowley and I didnít get our pizza. Within two weeks, both Elder Rowley and I were transferred to new areas. Sometime later I asked the elders that were transferred into our area about our investigators. They told me that eighteen of the twenty-one were baptized into the church. Elder Rowley went on to become an assistant to the mission president. It is ironic that the only baptism Rowley had on his entire mission was Sandy. I finished my mission with twenty-one baptisms and I often wonder why Elder Rowley and I werenít allowed to reap the harvest of our endeavors in Garden City, Michigan.

          I often fell that it may be because we were foolish in making the bet
                                   and the Lord was teaching us a lesson about the importance
                                                           of the souls of our brothers and sisters.

My next assignment was Battle Creek, Michigan. The ward was very good and we received many member referrals. As time went on, Elder Easler and I received a call from a sister that had just given birth to a baby boy with a serious heart defect. She requested we come immediately to the hospital to give her baby a blessing. Elder Easler and I had a fast prayer and drove to the hospital. When we arrived we had a short conversation with the mother. She was very upset and she told us she was an inactive member of the Church. We then talked to the doctor and he told us the baby was going to die and that it was just a matter of minutes before the end would come. The doctor told us that the baby had a hole in itís heart and that if it wasnít for the fact that it was bleeding so badly the baby could have been flown to Lansing where their facilities and doctors could operate on the babyís heart. The doctor said he didnít know very much about the LDS Church but he hoped that our presence would help the babyís distraught mother. Elder Easler and I gave the baby a priesthood blessing. We had to do it by laying our hands on the incubator. I pronounced the blessing and we talked to the mother and father a few minutes and then left. We went back to our apartment and said another prayer asking that the baby would be healed.

The next day, we received a call from the doctor. He told us the babyís heart stopped bleeding fifteen minutes after we left. The baby was flown to a Lansing hospital and according to the doctor, the surgery was a success and the baby was doing fine and should be able to lead a normal life. The doctor asked how he could learn more about the LDS Church and we got hold of the elders in his area and gave them the doctorís name. I donít know if the doctor joined the Church or if the baby recovered fully, because we were transferred.

My next assignment was Evansville, Indiana. While there my new companion and I were teaching a sister that was divorced with a four year old daughter. This sister was a secretary at the college and she didnít have very much money. After the third lesson, this sister became touched by the spirit. However, her family was against her taking the lessons and said they would disown her if she joined the Church. We tried to set an appointment for the fourth discussion and she was hesitant and told us she would give us a call if she decided to continue with the discussions.

The next day, my companion and I drove approximately forty miles to contact a person that had
visited the Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah. On our return trip we took a different route home and checked out some small towns in the area we might tract in. On the way, we stopped at an antique shop and while we were in the shop, we placed a Book of Mormon in the book case containing antique books. The Book of Mormon was marked and had our names in it. This antique shop was  off the beaten track and I donít think Elder Gough or I could have found it again without a great deal of trouble.

About two days later the sister we were teaching called us and requested that we come and talk with her. When we arrived, we found the sister crying. When we asked her what was the matter, she handed us a Book of Mormon with our names in it. I was sure she had decided to stop taking the lessons and was giving us back the copy we had originally given her to read. However, it was soon made clear to us that she wanted to join the Church. This sister explained that she was gaining a testimony of the gospel when her family started giving her a problem about joining the Church. She told us it was very upsetting and she prayed for a sign. On Saturday, her day off, she decided to go for a ride in the country in her car to think over her problem. She said she found herself at an antique shop. She went inside and as she was looking at the antiques, she found a Book of Mormon on the book shelf. She was beside herself when she opened the book and saw our names in the book.

This sister was crying because our Father in Heaven answered her prayers in an unmistakable manner. This sister joined the Church and was also given a lesson in tithing. Before she joined the Church she had another crying session when we explained the law of tithing to her. She showed us her budget and explained she couldnít pay the tithing and her other bills.

          Being the kind of elder that wouldnít let a little problem
                          like tithing stop a baptism,
                                      I testified to her that if she paid her tithing first
                                                    and trusted in the Lord, that all would be well.

I went on to promise her that if she paid her tithing, that Elder Gough would pay any bills she
couldnít pay. Everybody had a good laugh. This sister paid her tithing and before the month was out, she had been given extra jobs from a professor that needed some research papers typed. The next month, she had been given a raise in pay and because the professor was so happy with her work, he recommended her to other professors that needed typing. In two months, she had extra money that she didnít have before.

I have a strong testimony of the gospel and the principles taught therein. I have strong a faith and I have a strong testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I know this is the Lordís true church and that it has been restored to us in these last days. We must live its principles and teach them to our children. I have seen too many evidences of it in my own life, in the lives of others and while I was serving a mission for my Lord to believe otherwise. It is my hope and desire that as members and non-members of His church, we remember to thank our Heavenly Father for His Son Jesus Christ and all He has done for us. For His gift of the atonement which gives us the opportunity to return and live with our Heavenly Father again.

                          These things I know.

                                          Officer (&RM) Olin W. Tefft Badge #2800


If you are or were a police officer, soldier, fireman
or wife, mother, father of such or some other branch of emergency personnel
and would like to share an unusual testimony building experience with others,
please contact us for details at

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Thank you and God bless,


"Think About it..." mailed to your home for only $14.95   S&H included

Read "Think About it..." Online Warrior Stories  | Excerpts | News Articles | Poems
Rear Cover | Reviews | About the Book | About the Author | Order | E-Mail  |  Home

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P.O. Box 7899   Mesa, AZ 85216-7899
A 317 page full size book, mailed to your home for only $14.95   S&H included