North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers aim to combat misconceptions

NCHP Ride Along

“We are not here to hand out tickets and to put people in jail.  We are here to save lives.”  Those were the words Tuesday of N.C. Highway Patrol 1st Sgt. Jimmie Silver during a near daylong ride-along as he talked about misconceptions and stereotypes that surround the agency.  The ride-along was meant to illustrate everything the Highway Patrol does in order to keep Twin Counties drivers safe on and off the area’s roads each day.  From changing a flat tire to reminding a driver about a license plate that was about to fall from her car to responding to a wreck on Interstate 95 and more, Silver showed what troopers do each day to keep drivers safe.  He stressed throughout the day that changing the view of what the agency does is important due to people’s perception of not just the Highway Patrol but law enforcement in general.  “People think law enforcement is out to get them,” Silver said.  “I think that is because there is so much negativity surrounding law enforcement on television.”  He added parents telling their children that the police might come to get them if they misbehave does not help combat those stereotypes and misconceptions, either.  Local resident Keauna Blunt, who is a parent, said her perception of the Highway Patrol was only positive after trooper Macy Cannon changed a flat tire on Blunt’s car.  “I feel like this is great,” Blunt said.  “This is a wonderful thing because I really needed this.”  Cannon said knowing she made a positive difference in someone’s life just by changing a tire made her happy.  “Being able to help anybody makes doing this job worth it,” Cannon said with a smile.  Changing Blunt’s tire was just one of the ways that the Highway Patrol made a positive difference Tuesday in the Twin Counties.  Silver reminded one driver along U.S. 64 that she was about to lose her license plate because it was not secured and educated another about ways that a seatbelt can be worn without it causing discomfort, rather than giving the driver a ticket.  Silver said that both stops ending peacefully was encouraging.  “It makes you feel good,” Silver said, adding not every stop is so peaceful.  Keeping drivers safe from each other and from themselves is just one more way the Highway Patrol keeps the state’s roads safe.  Its employees also work in the state’s many weigh stations, making sure tractor-trailers are not overloaded or improperly loaded.  Silver said tracking tractor-trailers — along with checking the state’s rest stops, schools and other locations — is another side of troopers’ work that few people know about.  He said he hopes that by showing that work and everything else that troopers do, drivers would see that the Highway Patrol “is not out to get anyone, but just to save lives.”  Silver, who is also a military veteran, recently announced he will retire from the N.C. Highway Patrol at the end of this month.