From Behind the Scene to On the Scene - Why a Dispatcher Became a Trooper

Behind the Badge with Sgt. Mary Kaye Lucas

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 UTAH) She went to college with plans to be an engineer. But her goals changed and today she and her husband are sergeants with the Utah Highway Patrol. 
   
"A police dispatcher job came open for the highway patrol and I said, that sounds interesting." Mary Kaye Lucas started her law enforcement career as a dispatcher. She says she loved how it could go from zero to 60 in a matter of a phone call.  "Everything is calm and then 'snap' - that quick. Things can change and the phones light up." "So you are organizing chaos and sending resources where they need to go and it was exciting and an adrenaline rush and satisfying all at the same time." 
 
But Mary Kaye felt she needed closure on some of those calls she was handling. So, after nine years, she decided to go from behind the scene as a dispatcher to on the scene as a trooper. "The job I was doing in dispatch was exciting, but I really felt like there was more I could be doing on the other side of the radio."
 
I asked her about the first car she pulled over as a trooper. She says it was a memorable moment. "I was so nervous and I remember talking to the lady and she was sitting there shaking and it hit me that she is just as nervous as I am. And the reason she is nervous is she was just pulled over by the police and could get a ticket or something like that. I'm nervous cause I don't know what I am doing and don't know what to say. But at that moment I realized I have an effect on people when I pull people over and they get nervous." Trooper Lucas said she uses that memory as a reminder when she interacts with motorists. "I want them to feel well informed and everything is explained as simply as possible so they are not confused." 
 
After patrolling the highways for a few years Trooper Lucas was assigned to alcohol enforcement. "We did a lot of undercover stuff - going into bars and making sure people were abiding by the laws." After that assignment she was moved into officer investigations - looking into possible wrong doing by fellow officers.
"Some of them we would go through and interview people and find there is nothing here and close it with no action. Other times there were some serious offenses." She says it's a tough job, but a necessary check and balance. And she wants the public to know, in her opinion, most troopers, officers and deputies are good people and good law enforcement officers. "When it comes down to the ones who get in trouble it is less than one percent of the total number of officers in the state."
 
Today, the 43-year-old is a Sergeant with UHP. She is in charge of a unit and its a job she says she absolutely loves. "You still get to go out and stop cars and work with great people and help the guys that work with you and make sure they have the tools to get the job done." I asked her to describe her job. She says it is like being a mom. "A lot of times I feel all the helping I'm doing I'm just being a mom to make sure they've got what they need and they're doing OK." Which is fitting because she also works in the same building as her husband. "He's running the motor squad on the other side of the building and I'm here." Sergeant Mary Kaye Lucas and Sergeant Donovan Lucas. Same rank, but only when they're at work. "At home I am Sgt. Major. Ha. Ha. Ha." "At work were are both sergeants and were friends and co-workers, but at home I'm Sgt. Major."
 
Sgt Lucas - Mary Kaye Lucas - has been in law enforcement now for 20 years with 10 years at UHP. 
Sgt. Donovan Lucas has been a trooper for 22 years. 
     
To see our Behind the Badge stories and to nominate an officer, deputy, trooper or fire fighter for a future story - go to: http://www.good4utah.com/badge
 
   

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