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Law enforcement jobs unpredictable, dangerous in rural areas

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BOX ELDER COUNTY -- When most people think of Box Elder County, they think of Brigham City, Tremonton, maybe even Snowville. There's a lot of room in the western part of the county, though, where help is far away.

"The county is 6,500 square miles. The biggest portion is rural," explains Box Elder County Sheriff Lynn Yeates. "It'll take you two and a half hours to get to Grouse Creek from here (Brigham City) as fast as you can drive."

To patrol the western part of the county, deputies have three-day rotations.

"All they're expected to do is patrol the desert and the mountain areas for that three-day time period," Yeates says.

The deputies stay in cabins in Grouse Creek, Park Valley or Yost. This way, if anyone gets in trouble and needs help, a deputy is relatively nearby.

However, if something happens to the deputy, backup is far away. That's something they think about whenever pulling over a driver.

"I always take into consideration where I'm at. If I need help, what's the response time is going to be to get to me?" says Box Elder County sheriff's Sgt. Jim Summerrill. "We might follow a vehicle for a substantial amount of time if we feel something is not right, until we're closer to backup in case something does go wrong."

Summerrill is also a firearms trainer for Box Elder County. He says when deputies are on their own and something happens, their training is their partner.

"We teach them how to deploy out of the vehicle, how to use the vehicles as cover and concealment, how to access their firearms as quickly as possible," Summerrill says.

That training saved Duchesne County Deputy John Crowley's life. In 2006 he was trying to pull over a driver when the driver lost control on a snowy rural road.

That driver then came out shooting with no warning. Deputies shot back at the man, who died after getting hit several times.

Unfortunately, in Millard County Deputy Josie Fox's case, she never had a chance to return fire at the man who shot her.

"We never like to see a fellow officer get injured or killed especially," Yeates says.

He believes the case is a reminder of how unpredictable and dangerous law enforcement jobs can be, no matter what kind of training deputies receive.


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Alex Cabrero


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