LEXINGTON — Troop D of the Nebraska State Patrol has a new trooper. Kaden Brandt graduated with Camp 59 on Friday, Oct. 26. Since then he has been taking part in field training with troopers in Troop D, learning the ropes and putting his training to use.
Brandt moved several times during his childhood but seemed to keep coming back to Dawson County. He has gone to school in Cozad, Elwood, District 16, and Lexington. He has also lived in Oklahoma and Iowa. He met his wife, Emily, in Iowa and the couple moved back to Cozad, where they currently live. Brandt said he still has extended family in the area, including grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Before deciding to join the Nebraska State Patrol he worked with Landmark Implement. Brandt said he has always had an interest in law enforcement but during his time in high school he wasn’t sure if he would be a good fit for the work.
The moves he undertook to different states and towns also made him question where he would work if he did enter law enforcement. He also wasn’t sure if he met the stringent requirements demanded by law enforcement.
It wasn’t until he spoke with Trooper Josh Emhovick, that he realized how qualified he was. He looked around at different agencies to join, but after a few ride alongs with the NSP, he was sold. Brandt said he also liked the freedom of decision a state trooper has, he said it was preferable to having to worry about who the next sheriff was or driving stop sign to stop sign in a town.
During training camp the core values of the NSP were "burned into your head," said Brandt. The values are honesty, professionalism, self-discipline, officer safety, attention to detail, sense of urgency, adaptability, performance driven and team oriented. Brandt said these words were posted everywhere he went during camp.
He said the integrity one might be the most important, he said troopers are to be honest in all their dealings, if they are found to be lying about something, no matter how small, they are fired immediately, he said.
Discretion is something that is taught during camp. He said that every trooper is different but they all try to figure out where to draw the line. Can a lesson be taught to someone who is pulled over with just a warning, or does the situation require a citation be made out, this discernment is taught to the troopers.
Brandt said he did not know what to expect at camp and found his confidence lacking a bit at the start, but then he got into it and things started to change. He said the training is very detailed, the recruits go through scenario after scenario, trying to familiarize them with how the NSP wants them to operate and how to stay safe on the job by being ready for anything thrown at them.
One area of training which proved challenging for Brandt was domestic violence; he said it was the area he had the most trouble with. Brandt said one mistake at the start of an event could have repercussions throughout the rest of the engagement. He said that initial contact is the key to success or failure.
Brandt said in many scenarios things are moving quickly, he wasn’t sure what was entirely going on and decisions had to made quickly. One rule the NSP follows is trying to avoid making the situation worse for the victim, although this is not always straight forward.
Brandt said in one scenario the "husband" immediately laid his hands on Brandt as soon as he walked in the door, he went to handcuff the husband but then the victim, the "wife," also began to hit him. NSP guidelines say the victim shouldn’t be handcuffed, but in this situation, what was the appropriate response? Brandt said as he got through more training it became clearer on how to handle situations.
"Overall the training was very good," Brandt said, "I don’t think they could have done a better job than they did."
Brandt said he was much more confident in himself after he completed camp and graduated with Camp 59.
For the time being Brandt is accompanying a field training officer whose job it is to evaluate Brandt for a period of nine months. Starting in February he will switch over to nights, which will be his shift when he completes the field training.
While he learned much in camp, Brandt said he is learning even more out in the field. "There is always uncertainty about how people will react to information," he said, "People may be happy you are not going to give them a ticket, others might react badly when they learn you will ticket them." So far he has yet to arrest someone, Brandt said.
It’s not all disciplinary action though, Brandt said during the most recent snow storms a mother with a three year old child had a flat tire on the interstate and called the NSP saying that drivers were not changing lanes. She was afraid for the safety of her child, fearing a collision. Brandt said she had called a tow truck and was waiting for them.
Brandt said when they arrived they found the woman had everything she needed to change the tire and he told her to cancel the tow truck call and changed the tire himself. Later on the woman found Brandt on Facebook and personally thanked him for what he had done. Brandt said it was good to see his actions resulted in this positive impact.
Brandt’s current goal is to finish his field training. He said in the future he does not want to become complacent, he said he doesn’t feel that now, being fresh out of camp, but it is a mindset he wants to avoid in the future.
Now having donned the uniform after training camp, Brandt said he sees the difference the NSP makes on a daily basis. He referenced the semi-truck accident near Cozad, when one semi struck another that was parked on the side of the interstate. Brandt wondered aloud how many other collisions they had helped prevent by getting vehicles off the side of the interstate.
He added that it’s important seeing the results of their actions, he said during training, they made their decisions and then the scenario ended, now he can see what happened after he made this choice, helped this person, etc.
Brandt said he is happy to be back home in an area he grew up in and now can help make a difference here.