Rural Missouri - September 2021 - 43
Taking the Time
A traffi c stop that ended with more than a ticket
by Heather Berry | email@example.com
t was after 10 p.m. one hot Sunday night in August
2020. Missouri Highway Patrol Cpl. Jeffrey W. Huff
was westbound on Interstate 70 when the headlights of
a speeding car quickly came up behind him.
" I clocked the car at 113 mph in a 65 zone, " recalls the
patrolman. " The driver seemed to know what he'd done,
immediately slamming on the brakes and pulling over. "
According to the patrolman, the driver - a 16-year-old
boy - was alone in the car and seemed depressed. He
brought the teen back to his patrol car while he processed
paperwork for the impending ticket. While he
worked, the corporal started a conversation
with the boy, inquiring why he was driving so
fast and why he was out so late.
" Eventually he started sharing he was headed
down to the World War I museum and that he
'wanted to clear his head,' " says Jeffrey.
The chance conversation ended up saving the
teen's life when he opened up to the patrolman
about his plan to end his life that night.
The patrolman reminded the teen that it was after
11 p.m. and the museum was closed. Jeffrey then told
the kid, " Just so you know, you're calling your parents, so
go ahead and call them. "
While the trooper continued processing the paperwork,
he could overhear much of the conversation between the
teen and his father. Soon the trooper asked the teen for the
phone so he could talk to his dad and go over the incident
" I can't make parents come to the scene, but I always
ask if they'd like to come pick their teen up, " Jeffrey
shares. " His parents said they'd come right away. "
As they waited, the offi cer kept asking questions, trying
to get a handle on what was going on in the teen's mind.
Further questions revealed the teen had been isolated
at home due to having COVID-19, even missing football
practice. Jeffrey eventually learned the teen recently had a
heated argument with his best friend over a girl they both
" I think a lot of factors played into how emotional and
depressed he felt, the common factor being the girl. While
it might not seem like a big problem, to him it was, " says
Eventually the boy shared that he had planned to go to
the memorial, climb to the top and jump off to kill himself.
Hearing this, the patrolman took a deep breath and
began to share from his own personal experience.
" Listen, " Jeffrey began, " I had a brother who committed
suicide. While it may seem like an easy choice for you,
your decision touches many lives. It won't solve anything. "
The teen's parents soon arrived and heard of their son's
plan to commit suicide. They planned to take him straight
to a hospital for evaluation.
To the offi cer's surprise, the teen's mother called the
next day, stating they could never thank the offi cer enough
for all he'd done for their son. She said her son had told
her, " That trooper saved my life tonight. "
Jeffrey says that's the last he heard from the family but
is glad they got their son the help he needed.
" That entire stop probably took 30 minutes, but having
empathy in the situation made a world of difference to that
boy, " says Jeffrey.
Earlier this year, the patrolman was chosen as the
Department of Public Safety Employee of the Month.
The time he took to listen and help someone in crisis
falls under one of the eight core values of the
Missouri Highway Patrol: compassion. He chose
to listen to the teen and chose to get involved
on a personal level by sharing his family's own
story of loss.
As a husband and father, the 38-year-old
trooper, based at Troop A in Lee's Summit,
strives daily to embrace the eight core
values set by the Missouri Highway Patrol:
integrity, responsibility, respect, professionalism, compassion,
resourcefulness, character and commitment.
When asked, Jeffrey is open to sharing the story of his
own brother Kenny's depression which drove him to take
his life. " Everyone's situation is different. In my brother's
life, it was a series of events that caused a domino effect
that ended in tragedy. "
The trooper's goal is to make people aware that there is
help available for those who need it - as well as advice we
can all apply in life.
" It didn't take a lot for me to pick up on the clues this
boy offered, " Jeffrey says. " But it did require me to listen,
with my heart and my ears.
" Some of the best advice I can offer is for people to think
about what they say. An offhanded 'I'm going to kill myself'
or 'I'd rather die' isn't so funny when you fi nd out the person
next to you might be thinking about it, " Jeffrey says.
" Life is harder for some people than others. Be a human
being and treat other people with respect. You don't know
what someone else might be facing in life. Maybe just listening
could make the difference. "
You may reach Cpl. Jeffrey W. Huff at jeffrey.huff@mshp.
dps.mo.gov or by calling 816-622-0800.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and
confi dential support for people in distress. For resources,
call 800-273-8255 or go to www.suicidepreventionlifeline.
org. Help is available 24/7.
SEPTEMBER 2021 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP 43
Rural Missouri - September 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - September 2021
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Rural Missouri - September 2021 - Contents
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