I IMMEDIATELY ASKED MY WIFE WHAT SHE THOUGHT of THE idea of me becoming a trooper, which had secretly been of interest of mine while growing up. She did not share my excitement. I proposed pursuing the idea in Utah, her home, and her interest increased. Her family in Utah knew a UHP captain who lived near them. We decided to seek his advice on becoming a UHP trooper.
On August 4, 1984, I began my career with the Utah Highway Patrol. My POST academy class consisted of 44 recruits, 19 of which were troopers. Colonel Dennis Nordfelt and his staff welcomed us all to the department. I remember how excited we were to be finally living the dream. At the time, I could never have imagined the opportunities in the years ahead.
My assignments as a trooper took me to Millard and Cache Counties, and then back to the Wasatch Front for a tour on the executive protection detail. I later served as a sergeant in Salt Lake and Davis counties before going to the Capitol as the lieu¬ tenant of both the uniform and executive protection sections. A memorable experience at the Capitol included a fire at the Governor’s Mansion, which nearly destroyed it. Miraculously, nobody was hurt. Later, I transferred to a Section 1 and then to Section 3 before moving over to investigations.
In 2003 I attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, an experience that exceeded all of my expectations. Upon returning, I was assigned back to the UHP. In August 2006, I was appointed UHP Superintendent, and in January 2009, Commissioner of the Utah Department of Public Safety. I then found myself a long way from where I had begun 24 years earlier. I still find it hard to believe, and sometimes I have to be reminded of the great responsibilities that come along with the job. I am very grateful for the chance to serve in so many different ways.
While it has been an extraordinary journey, the road has not always been smooth. There have been tough moments, difficult challenges, and occasional despair. Through it all I have been surrounded and supported by smart, hardworking people who are committed and passionate about our mission and objectives. The chance to work with Governors, Legislators, Honorary Colonels and other successful people has been an education, and quite remarkable. I couldn’t possibly have imagined, or asked for more.
I tell you all of this to illustrate the potential within each of you as you journey down your career path. In this profession, and particularly our department, the work is challenging, interesting, and at times very exciting. There are many opportunities for different assignments, education, training, and advancement. The people we work with are intelligent and motivated. Our mission is worthwhile, and makes a positive difference in the lives of the people we serve. Where else can you find this type of opportunity?
I am grateful and humbled to work in this organization with you. You have taught me much and together we have accomplished a great deal. Please continue striving each day to improve and increase your capacity to serve the people in Utah. They are fortunate to have such dedicated public servants working on their behalf. We are blessed to be able to contribute to the safety and security of this great state. I believe there are special rewards for people like you who sacrifice to make a difference in the world we live. Thanks for who you are, and for what you do. Please be careful out there.