PHOENIX - You see them everyday on Arizona's highways, but do you know what a typical day looks like for a DPS officer?
ABC15 recently rode along with Officer Scott Daugherty for a 10-hour shift in the East Valley.
He is assigned to the "Metro East" area which includes nearly everything in the Valley east of State Route 51. In other words, that's approximately 250 miles of roadway.
Daugherty begins his shift at
5:00 a.m.Unlike our previous ride-along with Phoenix PD where police are briefed before each shift, DPS officers bring their vehicles home. When they leave their driveway each day, their shift starts.
Daugherty said they bring their cars home so they can respond faster. He said if anything big happens before or after a shift, this makes them quicker to respond to a call.
ABC15 joined Daugherty just before
6:00 a.m. during our ride-along. The first stop we made was for a vehicle on the side of the road. Daugherty said he will typically check on people whose vehicle is stopped to make sure help is coming. In this situation, the driver's boss was on his way.
When it is a warm summer day, Daugherty said it's not uncommon for officers to get drivers off the road and into a cool place while they wait for a tow truck to arrive. DPS officers don't want drivers exposed to the heat for long periods of time, he said.
Right after this first stop, we started driving along the Loop 202 near the Loop 101 in Tempe when a Valley Metro bus stopped in the center lane. Officer Daugherty went to talk with the bus driver at
6:20 a.m. The driver told him that the bus stalled and he had to wait to start up the engine again.
7:15 a.m., Daugherty was asked to help with a DPS investigation. We waited for a suspect to get on the highway near the US 60 and Superstition Springs Boulevard for an hour but the suspect didn't show up. Officials were waiting outside the suspect's home, and once the suspect got on the highway Daugherty would have helped with the arrest. In this case, that didn't happen, so we moved on.
Daugherty did some carpool lane patrols at
8:15 a.m. He positioned his vehicle on the shoulder next to the HOV lane near Westbound I-10 and Baseline Road. After only 5 minutes, he saw a vehicle move quickly out of the carpool lane. It was discovered the driver didn't have any passengers.
9:00 a.m., Daugherty caught a vehicle speeding on the US 60 near Mill Avenue. The vehicle was traveling almost 78 MPH in the fast lane, 13 MPH over the speed limit. Even though the violation occurred near Mill Avenue, Daugherty didn't pull over the car for another mile, until there was a safe area to get out of his vehicle.
Immediately after finishing paperwork on the speeding violation, there was word on the radio of debris in the road on Northbound Loop 101 at McDowell Road. One officer was assigned to get out of his vehicle to get the debris. Daugherty was assigned to do a traffic break at
9:20 a.m. Traffic breaks are conducted so vehicles are stopped for a short period of time and an officer can get the debris out of the road.
10:00 a.m. it was time for a lunch break, but 40 minutes later, there was another report of debris near the WB US 60 and Loop 101. When Daugherty arrived at the scene, no debris was found. Sometimes his calls turn out to be nothing.
While driving down the Loop 101 in Chandler, we next received a report of a car that crashed into the back of a semi truck near Queen Creek Road on Eastbound I-10.
Daugherty arrived at the scene at
10:55 a.m. to find 3 vehicles involved in the crash.
After talking with everyone involved, it was determined that one of the vehicles crashed into the back of the semi while attempting to merge. The semi-truck involved in the crash was also taken out of service because of bad tires.
An officer from the commercial vehicle inspection team will always arrive to the scene when there is a semi involved. The officer makes sure driver logs are accurate and insures the truck is okay to be on the road. A truck driver is allowed 11 hours driving a day. In this case, the truck was taken off the freeway to make repairs to the tire. Once the tire is repaired, the truck is allowed to be on the road again.
While at the accident scene, Daugherty's squad car actually overheated. His vehicle had to be towed to a DPS station. His vehicle has around 145,000 miles on it. Daugherty told ABC15 most vehicles are traded out after 100,000 miles, but his hasn't yet been replaced.
The officer who was inspecting the semi-truck took us back to the station. While heading back, we arrived on the scene of a rollover accident at
12:50 p.m. The accident was near 40th Street on Westbound Interstate 10. No major injuries were reported.
After quickly swapping out cars at the station, it was time to get on the road again. At
1:45 p.m., Daugherty pulled over a vehicle that had expired tags. The vehicle's registration was 6 months expired. The driver ended up getting a warning because she was due in court in a couple of days.
Our last stop of the day was at
2:15 p.m. It involved a vehicle that had expired registration as well as a seatbelt violation. The driver ended up having a temporary plate, but it was not placed on his car.
Officer Daugherty has been with DPS for the past eight years. Before working for DPS, he was an Mesa police officer for six years in the Superstition District.
What is Daugherty's favorite part of the job? He tells us it's the flexibility. He enjoys not being tied down to a cubical all day, saying he has the freedom to meet different people and do different things everyday. He told us the worst part of his job is telling a loved one about a fatality.
Daugherty eventually would like to work on the criminal investigations unit, where he would look into crimes such as hit and runs.
He grew up in Louisville, Kentucky before coming to Arizona in 1998. He lives with his wife and 3 children in Mesa.