SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 UTAH) The Unified Police Honor Guard represents the department at events like parades and funerals for officers. They stand guard near caskets and they handle the folding the flag, escorts and the twenty-one gun salute.
The guard is made up from the 17 officers in Unified's motor squad. While they are a unified unit - each member has his own unique story of how he got there. In this week's in our Behind the Badge profile - we catch up with one of the team members.
Officer Jason Appleman is one of just five full-time Unified Police Motor Squad members. And he covers a lot of territory in the Salt Lake Valley. "We'll go somewhere where they need help. If Herriman is busy we go out and help Herriman. Magna. Kearns. Wherever they need help we go out and help." Appleman says it's a true privilege to be on the squad and he says a fortunate decision several years ago started him on the road to get here. "I was working out at a precinct and an opening came up for one of our precinct motors. A good friend of mine said you ought to try it - its a lot of fun. I trusted him and I went ahead and tried it and fell in love with it at a precinct level." Appleman then "managed to work up to a full time motor position." "I feel honored to be one of the five. It is a very difficult position to get."
The 46-year-old enjoys being on a bike more than a patrol car. And says it often helps when it comes to catching the bad guys. "We had an incident not to long ago when we had a shoplifter. He came running out of the store and were on bikes and I don't think he saw us coming - but we were able to get off quick and take him into custody right away." That's not to say he didn't do a lot of that before being with motors. With 19 years of law enforcement work he has seen it all. "He was shooting through the walls inside the house." He's had bullets fly past him. "You could hear them go overhead." And he's helped save a life. "There were people standing around. The car was fully engulfed - couldn't tell if anybody was in it. So, my sergeant - Sgt Burge - said I think there is someone in there." "Went up to the car and sure enough - went up to the door - had to cut her seat belt off - pulled her out. And we pulled her out her pants were still smoking."
Officer Appleman says he loves police work, but not because of the big busts or those moments of excitement. "I think you have to be compassionate to do this job."For him it is all about opportunities to help. "That's where I get my satisfaction - those small daily things - where you just treat people decent. And I'm in a position where I have a lot of freedom and I can do that. I really do enjoy that."
Officer Appleman has been on the motor squad for six years. He says being on a motorbike provides some interesting moments. He shares one in our web extra online. To hear his story and to nominate an officer for a future behind the badge story go to: http://www.good4utah.com/badge
"I was actually stopped at a stop light next to a car and the passenger threw a cigarette out and almost hit me...So, we made sure we lectured them on the proper way to dispose of a cigarette."
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