FARMINGTON (ABC4 News) – Sergeant Brian Cooper will tell you there’s no such thing as a routine traffic stop. He never knows who or what is inside the vehicle he’s approaching but he’s prepared for however the situation unfolds.
“Fox 6. 27, 29,” he says into his radio during a recent stop.
He speaks in code but Sgt. Cooper hasn’t always been in law enforcement. He used to be in banking and finance before changing careers about 10 years ago.
After putting himself through the Police Academy he wound up as a rookie patrolling the streets of Farmington.
“I remember the first time I stopped an impaired driver and how intimidating that was,” Sgt. Cooper told Behind the Badge. “So I made it a goal that I would become good at that.”
The experience reminds Sgt. Cooper of a favorite quote: ” ‘If you’re not willing to be a fool then you’ll never become a master’ and I took that to heart with how poorly I felt I performed on that first DUI arrest and just made it a goal and a passion to go after.”
Sgt. Cooper completed extensive drug recognition training so he can spot the signs of marijuana, methamphetamine and opioid impairment. He’s received awards for his numerous drug arrests.
“With me, it’s not about punishment,” he explains. “It’s about helping those people to get to a point where they are able to get off the drug and get help.”
Sgt. Cooper recently encountered a driver who was acting erratic, delusional and paranoid.
“I was able to quickly determine this was not a drug impairment issue and likely a psychological issue,” Sgt. Cooper said.
Instead of going for his gun or his taser, Sgt. Cooper reached for his cellphone and called a family member.
“She told us that he is schizophrenic. He’d been gone for three weeks which was common behavior when he’s off his medication,” Sgt. Cooper said. “The appropriate action was an involuntary commitment to the hospital so we took him into custody and took him to the hospital.”
The man got the medical and psychological treatment he desperately needed and returned to his family.
“It feels awesome. That’s why I’m doing this. That’s why I have a passion for this,” Sgt. Cooper said. “We always want to do the right thing and want those positive outcomes…We want to know that we’re making a difference. That’s vital. It’s important.”
On a recent snowy afternoon, Sgt. Cooper pulled over a woman for stopping her Lexus in a crosswalk but let her off with a warning and they shared a laugh. “I’ve got a fun job,” he told her.
The next time you’re headed to Lagoon or Station Park, slow down or you might have the opportunity to meet Sgt. Cooper in person.
As for that man he took to the hospital, his mother recently called the sergeant to say he’s back on his medications, healthy and doing very well.
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