Opportunity to Serve

BY COLONEL MICHAEL S. RAPICH, UTAH HIGHWAY PATROL HQ

It is with a tremendous sense of honor and appreciation that I write this article for the Utah Trooper Magazine, as Colonel of the Utah Highway Patrol.

The task of continuing the legacy of one of the greatest leaders I have ever known is as intimidating as it is exciting. Colonel Daniel Fuhr served as the superintendent of the Utah Highway Patrol for the past seven years, during which time he guided this organization to successes never before imagined. Through his passion and dedication he has defined the measure of excellence, and I am grateful for the chance to follow his legacy.

As many already know, I am a second generation Utah State Trooper. Growing up, I was able to observe the great men and women who have worn this uniform before me. I remember sitting and listening to stories they would share about stolen vehicle recoveries, DUI arrests, drug seizures, and crash investigations. The only way I could describe the admiration I felt, is that they were giants who were proud of the uniform they wore, and resolute in their conviction to serve a cause much greater than themselves. I recall wondering if I would ever be great enough to walk among them, and one day be counted as a Utah State Trooper.

That was nearly 30 years ago. Since then, the environment of law enforcement has changed in ways that are difficult to describe, and impossible to quantify. When I began my career, 24 years ago, incident reports were completed on a yellow legal pad and citations written from a ticket book. Today, State Troopers must be able to perform more tasks, with higher-level of complexity, and process more information than previously believed possible; and, they must to do so faster and with absolute accuracy. Our profession requires men and women who are proficient in technology, able to communicate information instantly and precisely, and make split second decisions which will be analyzed and second-guessed through mainstream and social media for months to come. Through all the rapid and accelerating change in law enforcement, one thing has remained constant.

Utah State Troopers continue to be giants of our profession, willing to serve whenever and wherever they are asked. Today, I still look up to each and every one, grateful for the opportunity to walk among you.

As State Troopers, we have been given the opportunity to serve in the greatest profession in public service. We have taken an oath to put the interests of others ahead of our own. We made a promise that when the freedoms or safety of others are challenged, we will be there. When tragedy strikes and someone’s worst nightmare becomes reality, we will be there. There are those who seek to color our profession with the negative actions of a very small few. However, we must never forget the good that is done, and the lives that are saved, through the opportunity to serve as Utah State Trooper. Always remember, we walk in the footsteps of those giants who came before us.

I started my career with this great organization wanting nothing more than to serve others as a Utah State Trooper. That is as true today as it was then. I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve as Colonel of the Utah Highway Patrol, while continuing to work alongside the great men and women who are called Utah State Troopers.