SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) “I talked to him and tried to build a rapport. It was very hard to talk to him. He didn’t want help. He didn’t want me there. Nobody cared about him.” Last Fall, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Kris Cope found himself trying to prevent a man from jumping to his death off a bridge over I-80. A split second decision with another trooper most likely saved the man’s life.
This week, in our Behind the Badge report – we learn more about that incident and we find out why Trooper Cope loves to serve and protect.
“He looked at us. And I could see in his eyes he was dedicated to jump. So, he let go of the overpass. I was able to grab his left wrist and Marino grabbed his right wrist.” “That’s when we had South Salt Lake – three or four guys from their crew come and just tackle this guy and pull him over the overpass and able to get him some mental health which was deeply needed.” Trooper Kris Cope had just stopped a man from jumping off a bridge over I-80. That might have been enough for most, but Trooper Cope wasn’t done showing the man he truly cared. “I went up to the hospital with him. He was quiet and emotional. He thanked me for saving his life.”
Trooper Cope joined UHP in 2012. He began patrolling the highways and state roads after working as a reserve officer for West Bountiful PD, and after spending six years as an EMT and working in emergency rooms. The 30-year-old says becoming a trooper felt like a natural progression. “In addition to plugging bullet wounds in the ER or responding to that shooting in an ambulance, I wanted to be there to protect those and help protect those before it even happened.” Trooper Cope says serving and protecting is a real thing and the reason he loves his job. “For me it’s about caring for more people than myself.”
He knows a lot of people think troopers are just looking for speeding drivers, but he says that’s not how troopers see their job. “Ultimately, our goal is to get people home safe every single day.” He says that is especially true after a tragedy. “For me its helping people get back up to where they want to be after something devastating happens to them.”
Trooper Cope says he loves police work because its never the same. “Each day is different. Which I enjoy. I go to work each day not knowing what I am going to do.” Sometimes it’s as simple as making a driver slow down. And other times it’s as intense as tracking down a killer. “I saw this gentleman who had a bullet wound entrance to his head. Both entrance and exit. And he was crawling in the street.” In fact, in 2014 he saw a man who’d been shot on the road in Salt Lake City and a man with a gun running away. “I made the decision to go after the man who pulled the trigger.” “I identified myself as an officer to drop his weapon and he turns around and starts running through a parking lot full of cars. And I can see he has a gun in his right hand.” He says he lost the gunman, when he ran around a corner, but quickly called for help. “I got containment set up with the helicopters. I called other troopers. Salt Lake City was en route.” And shortly thereafter – he got his man. We did find him. I wasn’t the one who arrested him. But we did find him.” That gunman is in the Utah State Prison. He is scheduled to stay there until 2024.
Trooper Cope is also a volunteer firefighter, and he is about to start training to be a tactical flight officer on the Department of Public Safety Helicopter Team.
To nominate an officer for a future Behind the Badge story – just go to http://www.good4utah.com/badge