During a routine traffic stop, Officer Ben Willkie fails to handcuff Buck Lester, who is on the run for a $62,000 payroll robbery that ended in murder. Lester escapes after shooting Officer Willkie in the back, and Dan Mathews and Officer Larrabee travel to the scene after the critically wounded officer fails to respond to several calls. Lester steals other license plates and, acting on local information obtained from a waitress, he and his wife steer their car onto a little-used back road in an attempt to flee the area. However, Dan knows that the back road is the only way to avoid the Highway Patrol's roadblocks and he and Officer Larrabee are able to set a trap for the cocksure couple. Written by
Lester steals a pair of license plates NXP430 and puts them on his black sedan. The black sedan complete with license plate NXP430 was reused from Highway Patrol: Fear, which aired one week earlier. It was also the villain's car. See more »
The foremost concerns of every officer of the Highway Patrol are constant surveillance and caution. A single second of carelessness can well mean failure in his duty, and possibly the loss of his life. On June 10th of last year, Highway Patrol Officer Ben Willkie committed just such an act of carelessness.
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A fun performance from Douglas Henderson as wily, extremely confident killer, Buck Lester (Barbara Knudson, his wife and willing partner in crime) and his cat-and-mouse with Highway Patrol Head, Dan Matthews (Broderick Crawford) makes this episode of "Highway Patrol" very entertaining. A Highway Patrol officer (Robert Dix) fails to fully frisk Buck after pulling him over for speeding, and this mistake left him vulnerable because he doesn't hand cuff the motorist (that and he left the wife unattended, too). Buck shoots him in the back as the officer was about to ruin his passage through the area, having called in the black Sedan's license plates. Buck decides to turn around, go to the nearest town, swap his plates (his car is similar to so many other Sedans) out, and get directions that would avoid road blocks. Stolen cash in their luggage and a criminal record behind him, Buck believes his plan, getting assistance from a local waitress in a diner they are eating, will prove successful while the Highway Patrol are spinning their wheels. But Matthews, working in concert with Officer Larrabee (Vance Skarstedt), put two and two together, soon guessing (rightly) that Buck might pull plates from a fully parked lot, calling them in, and concentrating on where the killer might go to avoid capture/detection. What I think this episode has going for it is the performance of Henderson, as his Buck considers himself quite smart and clever, far more intelligent than the cops out to catch him. His wife encourages his self-assurance, so when Matthews does catch up to him, the resolution is that much sweeter. It is a good episode documenting that police are human and fallible, prone to the occasional mistake which could lead to harm and violence. But even while bed-ridden and recuperating, his testimony was helpful to Matthews and Larrabee, so he wasn't a total failure. It was the kind of episode that does allow us to see that all procedures should be followed in order to prevent cop shootings such as this one. You could tell on Dix's face that his mistake was eating at him. Matthews needling Buck about his comment regarding the fallen officer's badge number is a satisfying close to the episode. As is often the case of this show, there's gunplay as the crook won't go down without drawing his weapon.
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