Life Is Beautiful

BY LAWRENCE HOPPER, UTAH HIGHWAY PATROL ASSOCIATION, PRESIDENT

In September of 2005, I was sitting in the office of Major Mike Kuehn with the Utah Highway Patrol, reviewing the results from a hearing test that I had taken two days before. My path to become a trooper took a different route than most.

I passed all tests that were given; the physical, the general knowledge, the psyche exam, the polygraph, the Captain’s board, all the tests except for the hearing. When I was 5 years old, my ear drums had burst in both ears. They did not heal completely, and 23 years later it was keeping me from doing what I wanted to do since I was 8 years old: become a police officer. The decision to have surgery to fix the damage was an easy one, knowing that it would help me achieve my goal. When I heard the Major say, “It looks good to me, the academy starts in October”, I was so excited to have made it.

I have been a trooper for 10 years, working 6 years on the road in Salt Lake County, 2 years at the Salt Lake Community College, and two years at the Utah Highway Safety Office. I have been a member of the association from day one and have served on the board of directors for the last 8 years. As I take over as President of the Utah Highway Patrol Association, I want to thank outgoing President, Jared Cornia, for the work he did as president. He was always concerned about the members and their needs, always looking for a way the association can help out.

In 1997, a film came out called “La Vita e Bella”, translated to “Life is Beautiful.” It is set in pre-World War II Italy and tells the story of a Jewish man named Guido. Guido falls in love with a beautiful woman named Dora, who is way out of his league. He eventually wins her heart; they marry, and have a son, named Giosue. Life is good for the young family until war breaks out They are rounded up by Nazi soldiers and separated from each other. They are sent to a concentration camp where Guido tries to protect his young son from the harsh reality of where they are. He does this by making the difficult situation into a game. Throughout the film, Guido is able to keep a good attitude and remain optimistic, despite how bad things get.

There are times in our jobs where it can be easy for us to lose our optimism, or walk around with a bad attitude. All you have to do is look at the world we live in. It is far different than the world of twenty years ago, even ten years ago. Twenty years ago, I was in high school, worried about who to ask to the prom, not making DUI’s arrests and giving fatal notifications. Ten years ago, I was a brand new trooper, worried about keeping my shoes shined and my uniform looking sharp, not officer involved shootings that happen in states hundreds of miles away.

In this profession, it can be easy to get caught up in all the negativity we see and forget about the positive things. It’s easy to forget about the first day you put on the brown uniform and looked at yourself in the mirror, thinking “I can take on the world”. It’s easy to forget how cool it was, the day you got your first patrol car, driving down the road to see all the traffic stack up behind you. It’s easy to forget about the adrenaline rush you got with your first pursuit. It is easy to forget about the lives you have saved, just by being out there and being seen.

When you forget about how good your job is, you owe it to yourself to take a step back and reflect on all the good that you have accomplished as a Utah State Trooper. You ARE living the dream!

“La Vita e Bella!”