The say when you join law enforcement you join a brotherhood. Brothers Clinton, Jared and Blaine Schmidt are making it a family affair. All three are troopers with the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
"It's nice to know that people that you know are going to be there, minutes, seconds if you need anything," said Blaine Schmidt, the youngest of the Schmidt brothers.
Together they have close to 20 years on the force. Clinton, the oldest of the three, joined the department first after returning from serving in the military. He wanted to work in a field that resembled the military and his father suggested he look into the highway patrol.
Blaine joined next, after suffering several injuries, his baseball career was put on hold so he began riding along with Clinton.
"He knew how to be a cop before he even became a cop," Clinton said.
Jared was the last of the brothers to join. He too would ride along with his brothers. But, for him, his main motivator to join the force was that he wanted to help people.
Growing up they've always been competitive. Jared says it's that competitive edge that has helped all three of them become better at their job. If you were to ask them, Blaine is the most competitive and the biggest jokester in the family.
Too often when they're together it can be hard to get them to turn off the "police talk," even at family dinners.
"My mom has to tell us to stop," Clinton laughed.
The Schmidt's are very close. They like to spend as much time as they can together and with their family.
"It's always family," Blaine said. "Thursday nights we go out to eat. Friday we hang out with our dad. Saturday it's usually something — there's always a birthday we have to go to."
It's always family first.
With the type of career they've chosen, their parents, especially their mother, get asked often how she deals with all three of her sons being in law enforcement. Clinton says that his mom softened up to the idea after he returned from serving in the military but says she prays a lot for her kids.
The Schmidt's say their entire family is proud and supportive of the work they do and the careers they have chosen.
"We spend a lot of time together outside of the job because we know that this job can take that away from you at any time," Jared said. "...You cherish being around your family a lot more."
Over the years they've each had experiences and responded to calls that have shaped their lives.
"I'd say the worst call is calls involving children," Jared said. "The best call is a no-call because when we do get called out it's usually something bad."
For Blaine, it was when he was nearly hit while laying down spike strips. He said up until that moment he had a mentality that he was invincible.
"I was coming up on a vehicle that we were in pursuit of and came within about a foot of me at 100 miles-an-hour. Tried taking me out," he said.
For Clinton, it was responding to a wrong-way driver.
"I didn't know if I was going to get hurt or anything like that. When I actually T-boned it into the wall," he said.
Clinton remembers that incident the most. It happened a few years ago. He was patrolling near Rose Garden and the I-17 when the call came in.
He headed in that direction looking for the vehicle when he came across it. As it headed towards him he knew he had to act and T-boned the car into the wall.
"We go into it knowing that we're gonna have to take it out and it's gonna be pretty bad, especially all the speeds and the curves of the freeways. I think that's what we talk about a lot, is going to it and know that it's going to be expected," Blaine said.
Blaine recalls the time he was on patrol when in a flash a vehicle went right past him at a high rate of speed, he radioed for help and another officer stationed down the road was able to stop the vehicle just moments after. He says in that moment he could have lost his life.
While their experiences to these situations have differed to various degree, they say the emotions and feelings that come with these calls are the same.
"If you're gonna come up on it are you gonna hit it? Are you gonna take it out so it doesn't take someone else out," Jared said.
"If we don't get a wrong-way stop, we're gonna end up with a serious collision and then we gotta see a bad side of it," Blaine added.
They say it's the anticipation; knowing that a vehicle is headed in their direction with only seconds to take action when they see the headlights that puts their lives into perspective.
"We're human, we have kids and families," says Clinton. "We're here to help."
Despite the dangers of the job, the Schmidt's say they absolutely love what they do. If anything, the job has only brought them closer as a family.
"It's nice to have them as my backup," Clinton said.
"All of us, we have each other's back," Blaine added. "As well as our squad."