BY CHARITY SALINAS, UTAH HIGHWAY PATROL ASSOCIATION, PRESIDENT
It was August 28, 2015, at 02:30 hours; I was sound asleep when my phone rang. It was a Lieutenant from section 3 calling to inform me that Sgt. Paul Kotter had been involved in a incident and had been shot while working an overtime construction shift in northern Utah.
My initial feeling was shock that a fellow Trooper was injured and my first thought was I hope he is alive and okay. Let me put this story on pause.
I grew up in small town U.S.A., Utah where things were quiet and not much happened. I was a good student in school, I played sports and had lots of hobbies such as photography and dance that kept me busy and away from anything that could resemble trouble. As I approached the end of high school I felt the need to serve and protect, I knew law enforcement was my calling. Helping people in need was a strong vision of mine and I knew my career path would lead me to where I am today. As fellow Troopers and Law enforcement officers you all know from experience the amount of training with and without firearms we participate in on a yearly basis to prepare us for situations just like this one. As great as the training programs are and no matter how often we participate in them they cannot prepare you enough for the real life call I got that night or for the dramatic situation that Paul was involved in. Un-Pause here.
I immediately jumped out of bed in a rush to get to McKayDee hospital leaving behind only a quick explanation to my husband as I rushed out the door. Thankfully Sgt. Kotter (currently a Lieutenant with section 16) was alive and okay that night when I arrived at the hospital. His wounds weren’t life threatening and he was in good spirits. Everyone actually shared a laugh about his injuries (cop humor isn’t the most timely). His training and his years in service helped him make the right decisions and avoid a more serious outcome. He recovered fully a few months later. Sadly some aren’t as lucky these days. As you all know police officers are being criticized, scrutinized, ambushed and dying in the line of duty at an alarming rate. Our field of work isn’t getting any easier. As President (V.P. at the time) of the UHPA it was my duty and my honor to be there at Paul’s side to not only show my support but the support of the UHPA. And frankly despite being woken up with startling news it was my pleasure.
The Utah Highway Patrol is a fellowship like none other I’ve been a part of. We have a higher standard than most and I take pride in upholding that standard and strive to find ways to raise the bar. And I want to show that being the UHPA president isn’t just a title to me. It is something I take seriously. I want to encourage any Trooper with any issue to bring it to me or any of our board members and give us your input to help find a solution. In times like these in the line of duty we need to know we can count on each other like family so that we can come home alive and safe to our families. What I have done in my years as a UHP Trooper and being a part of the UHPA are just the beginnings of what I want to accomplish. I hope to inspire and be an example of everything the UHP represents. As your UHPA President and fellow Trooper I want you all to know I personally will be there for you. Godspeed and may we all return home to our loved ones safe and sound.