Dusk was slowly descending on Halloween evening when I got into Trooper Cory Bradshaw’s vehicle at Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop A headquarters in Lee’s Summit for a ride-along.
Following a brief description of his duties and of the expensive, high-tech equipment at his disposal, including a computer and three types of radar, we headed for his beat – the highways.
Troop A’s jurisdiction includes 13 counties, and that night Bradshaw and trooper Corporal Charles Hoff were responsible for miles of roads and highways traversing Jackson County, looking for violators or motorists in need of help.
Within minutes we were dispatched to a motorist with a flat tire on heavily traveled Missouri 291. Bradshaw assessed the dangerous scene and slowly escorted Oak Grove motorist Julie Eulinger into a mall parking lot. Much to my surprise, Bradshaw began assisting the motorist with changing the tire when Mrs. Eulinger’s husband arrived to assist. I asked for her reaction, and she smiled and simply said, “I think it’s great, wonderful.”
Asked if he does that often, Bradshaw said, “Sometimes it’s necessary for safety’s sake.”
Out on the highway again, somehow the ever-alert trooper spotted a van with expired plates.
A trooper’s vehicle is also his office. He printed out a $93 citation and handed it to the disgruntled driver. Another $93 citation was given to a motorist for windows too heavily tinted and yet another with expired plates.
Soon we were almost back at the same spot on 291, assisting a mother with of trick-or-treaters in a disabled vehicle. We became sentries until a friend came to retrieve the kids and waited along with the worried parent until her husband arrived and a tow truck was dispatched.
Fortunately, there were no major crashes or other incidents, but I couldn’t help but notice that each time trooper Bradshaw got out of his patrol car he was endangering himself as cars came zooming by.
Sgt. Collin M. Stosberg, spokesperson for Troop A, says that “throughout the history of the patrol nine members have been killed after being struck by a vehicle while making a traffic stop.”
As for Missouri highway fatalities so far in 2013 – 649.
The Highway Patrol’s safety objective is to prevent that number from rising. Drive safely.
I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.
Jerry Plantz lives in Lee’s Summit. His website is at www.Jerryplantz.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.