Corporal Kevin Linear has been working for the Troop B region of the Missouri State Highway Patrol for the past two decades.
"Everyday I go out, the goal is to make a difference whether it's writing someone a ticket or just happening up on someone who needs help," said Corporal Kevin Linear.
Linear said happening up on someone who needs help is an almost daily occurrence and something that he finds rewarding. On the other hand, delivering death notices to families is the task he finds most challenging.
"The very worst part is probably going to be death notifications. After an accident or something traumatic has happened to somebody, you're the person that has to go and notify the family that something bad has happened."
Linear is originally from Bowling Green, Mo. His duty is to serve and protect Macon and Shelby counties. He said he has noticed that the four-lane expansion on Highway 36 has turned it into a racetrack, one that he spends a lot of time patrolling.
During our interview, we asked him how he mentally prepares for the dangers involved in his job.
"It's not something that I dwell on but every time I pull a car over, I think this person could be waiting to harm me. So, I need to be ready to react to what they may bring."
For this story, we took a ride with Cpl. Linear down Highway 36. While there, we asked him about all of the gadgets in his car. He said the computer is like a timecard, that tracks how long he stays at accidents; he also uses it to complete accident reports on scene. While in the car, he also showed us the radars that track motorists in the front and back of the patrol car. Also, the car has a dash-cam and another camera to watch whoever is sitting in the front passenger seat. In case you didn't know, when someone is arrested by a Highway Patrol Trooper, they sit in the front of the car. Linear said this is because it is easier for the officer to react if a suspect becomes violent while riding in the car. After learning about all of the new technology in the patrol car, we asked Linear how it has changed the scope of his job.
"There've been some major changes. We've gone from handwriting reports with a pencil and paper to practically everything we're doing being on a laptop computer."
We also got Linear's perspective on the major problems the area is facing.
"Probably the biggest issue we have here is the meth trade. It slowed down for a while but it's starting to pick back up again. Also, heroin is making a big impact. Synthetic marijuana, K2, things like that and the people that are using it seem to be getting younger all the time. "
Before we ended our interview, we asked Cpl. Linear how he thinks he's making a difference in the Heartland. Here's what he had to say.
"People get to see an African American male not in the stereotypical role of a great athlete, pants-sagging rapper. For the most part, law enforcement in rural America is a white male dominated job. I'm one of the few. And that gives people a chance to see that we are capable of more than the stereotypical things that they see on TV. The stuff they hear on the radio. That's what I'm most proud of."