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Troopers face ‘inherent dangers,’ says Nevada State Police Union president

No matter how well-trained and cautious they are on roadways, a highway patrol trooper’s career continues to be inherently dangerous, said the head of the Nevada State Police Union Thursday, hours after two troopers were killed by a suspected hit-and-run motorist.

“We’re sometimes out there on the road, or outside of our car, facing a one- two- three-thousand-pound missile coming at us,” union president and trooper Dan Gordon told the Las Vegas Review-Journal Thursday. “Unfortunately, that’s the nature of this job, that something like that can happen.”

Two Nevada Highway Patrol troopers had stopped early Thursday morning to check on a motorist who appeared to be asleep at the wheel before they were struck and killed, according to Las Vegas police.

Police said they later found the Chevrolet HHR involved in the collision. Jemarcus Williams, 46, faces counts of DUI and reckless driving involving a fatality, and leaving the scene of a crash.

The troopers, who officials had not named Thursday evening, became the 11th and 12th line-0f-duty deaths in Nevada Highway Patrol’s history, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page that tracks law enforcement fatalities.

In 2021, trooper Micah May, was killed by a pursuit suspect on the same highway, and not far from Thursday’s crash.

The last time two officers were killed during a single event in Southern Nevada was June 2014, when Las Vegas police officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck were gunned down while they ate lunch in an east valley pizzeria.

Gordon said his heart broke when he started receiving messages Thursday morning informing him of Thursday’s tragedy, describing the notice as a punch to the gut similar to losing a family member.

“If you’ve been on this job for any number of months, years, or more, you’re going to have close calls,” said Gordon about police and troopers out on roads. “There are some inherent dangers when it comes to doing traffic enforcement.”

Gordon is a 25-year law enforcement veteran, who has been patrolling Northern Nevada highways for about 17 years.

On the roadways — inside or outside their patrol vehicles — officers have to contend with moving traffic when assisting someone, pulling someone over or investigating a crash, Gordon said.

They have to rely on motorists to be safe, but that’s not always possible, he said about distracted and impaired driving.

He added that it is more dangerous for troopers during dark hours, when more impaired drivers are behind the wheel.

Sometimes, those motorists veer off the road or into incoming traffic with little notice, Gordon said.

“I can say with certainty that these two troopers were doing what they could to be safe,” he added.

Gordon said that officers are trained to be aware and “super vigilant,” and that they have no room for error.

Their recourse often involves trusting that civilians will do the same.

“When a mistake is made by another driver, impaired or whatever, they make a small mistake and the results can be catastrophic,” Gordon said.

On Thursday morning, Gordon was in Las Vegas, where he’s teaching a law enforcement class, when he began receiving the fateful news.

Gordon’s patrol area is less populated than Southern Nevada, but he said that watching cars zoom pass him while on the side of the road is always “eye opening and scary.”

“It’s never something that you get used to,” he said. “We try to be as safe as we can while we’re improving public safety.

“The dangers sometimes catch up with us.”

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com Follow on X @rickytwrites.

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