(St. Joseph, MO)- The lights, the car and of course the blue uniform—these are just few of the well-known signs of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, but there's actually more to the stereotype.
That's what myself and 20 others will be learning over the next five weeks as part of the troop h community alliance program.
"People see that highway patrol vehicle on the shoulder, that trooper making that traffic stop and they think we are all about writing tickets. Couldn't be more dead wrong," said Sgt. Jake Angle of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
On the first night of the program, we got an exclusive tour of the Troop H Headquarters and got an introduction of what working in the patrol is all about. I was pretty surprised with all the various offices and divisions that come out of there alone. It was then time to learn the tools of the trade. It was amazing to see all the materials these troopers use day in and day out.
"People don't realize it but when we are out there out on patrol, we're by ourselves. So we have to have everything we need to cover as many situations as we can. They can see inside that patrol car and see what it takes to do the job," Angle said.
Next, we were introduced to the marine operations team. If you thought working out on the roads was a challenge, these guys have to go through some intense training in the water alone to make sure they get the job done.
"We're talking about swift water rescues, flooding, submerged vehicles, people go missing in the water. It's a tough job," Angle said. "They don't get a lot of calls, but when they do get the call, they are usually high risk operations."
We ended our first session meeting with a demonstration from the troop's K-9 unit. This German Shepard may look playful and cute, but don't let him fool you. This K-9's sense of smell has proven to be very valuable for the team.
"He's trained in narcotics detection and tracking," said Sgt. Mark Wilhoit of MSHP K-9 Unit. "I think the class enjoyed this. I think a lot of people think they are just a take home pet, but they're not. They are a working police dog."
Week One was sure fun and informative and the journey is just beginning.
"It's always satisfying for us to be able to tell people what we do for a living. Explain things and break it down," Angle said. "You're going to get to see the inside of the highway patrol most people don't get to see."
Next week, you won't want to miss part two of this series. Vanessa will be learning with the group about traffic enforcement and meet members from the troop's elite S.W.A.T. team.