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Trooper Justin Hansen

Trooper Justin Hansen was nominated by Keith Squires, Utah’s Commissioner of Public Safety, who wrote the following letter:

“The intention of this email is to explain (or attempt to explain) why I think Justin Hansen is a great asset to the Department of Public Safety but especially to the Aero Bureau. I will list a couple of bullet points or characteristic traits and give a few examples and stories about him:

– Dedication and commitment – It is not always as easy and glamorous to be a TFO as people think. There are many late night call outs that result in long hours. The TFO position is a secondary assignment with a very high knowledge and efficiency requirement and in order to maintain that knowledge and efficiency there is a lot of training required. It also requires a lot of the TFO’s own time to be proficient at the various tools. Justin has shown a very high interest level and a strong desire to be the best he can be, often calling me in the evening or early morning just to discuss an idea that he had to make the unit better. He puts in a full time effort for a part time assignment.

– Professional – One of Justin’s greatest talents is his ability to professionally talk to whomever we are working with. The helicopter is used to support agencies throughout the state. When we arrive on scene it is the TFO’s job to brief with the Sheriff or Search and Rescue Commander to come up with a plan of how to use the helicopter. Every situation is different and I have been very impressed with the way Justin has represented the Highway Patro and DPSl in these situations. He has always been able to meet the needs of the Sheriff and devise a safe plan of action for the helicopter crew.

– “Street Smarts” – I briefly mentioned above that every situation that we go to is different. One of the things that makes Justin so valuable to our unit is his “street smarts” or his common sense. Flying in the helicopter presents its own challenges and trying to use all of our tools to the benefit of the mission would test the abilities of any Trooper. Justin has the ability to overcome these challenges and be very effective. He has great ideas on where we could be of most use, and what we need to do to be effective.

– Kind – I know that this is usually not something that people think of when they think of Police Officers. When we rescue people they are having a very bad day. The whole situation can seem intimidating, they are embarrassed that the helicopter had to be called. It would be very easy in these situations for the TFO to just load the victim into the helicopter and transport them the couple of minutes to the command post and then leave. Justin goes out of his way to make sure the victims are comfortable with the situation and that their needs are met before we depart.

There is a lot more I could say about what Justin adds to our unit, but to avoid sounding like this is a eulogy I will end there with the bullet points. Justin has been on numerous rescues where his actions have directly affected the outcome of the mission. There are people alive in this state because of the things that he has done. Last September he was on the mission to search for a missing hiker on Lone Peak, the hiker was located but deceased. Recovery efforts were underway when the rope from one the rescuers on the ground was pulled into the main rotor causing significant damage. The helicopter spent about 15 seconds rotating very rapidly and hitting into the side of the mountain, but was able to fly away and land safely. Justin suffered a severe concussion and whiplash from this incident. Even though he has been out of work since the incident, he usually doesn’t let more than two days go by without calling me to see how things are going in the unit, with an idea on how to improve, and express a desire to get back to work.”