Highway Patrol corporal named Missouri State Employee of the Month for unique handling of traffic stop for speeding
Jeffrey W. Huff, a corporal in the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Troop A, has been named Missouri State Employee of the Month for March for the care and compassion he demonstrated while responding to a teenager experiencing suicidal thoughts. Huff became eligible for the state recognition after being named Department of Public Safety Sworn Employee of the Month for February.
In August 2020, Huff stopped a vehicle traveling 113 miles an hour on Interstate 70 east of Kansas City. When he learned the driver was 16 years old, Huff had the boy call his parents. While the boy was on the phone, Huff learned the teen was experiencing depression and was suicidal.
Huff decided to share his own personal experience of loss. The corporal’s own brother had died by suicide. He explained to the boy how the loss of his brother had affected his entire family. He talked about the benefits of talking with others and working with medical professionals. The teen’s parents came to the traffic stop scene, talked with Huff, and then informed him they would take their son directly to the hospital.
Later, Huff was contacted by the teen’s mother. She told him she could never thank him enough for what he had done for her son. She explained that as they had driven away from the traffic stop scene, her son explained his plan to take his own life. He told his parents, “That trooper saved my life tonight.”
“One of the core values of the Missouri State Highway Patrol is compassion,” Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten said. “That is clearly what Corporal Huff demonstrated that night in his interactions with this young man. Corporal Huff’s concern went beyond dangerous driving; he made a conscious decision to share his own personal experience to help the teen get through a difficult time and seek assistance. This is an excellent example of the difference law enforcement officers can make in a person’s life.”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Lifeline provides crisis resources and best practices for professionals. Call 1-800-273-8255 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
This article was compiled from a press release via Mike O’Connell, Communications Director, Missouri Department of Public Safety.