Ride Along: DPS Troopers in Action

Ride Along: DPS Troopers in Action

Anum Valliani

NewsWest 9

WEST TEXAS - It's a job where you've gotta love two things: the road and the unexpected. More DPS troopers are being assigned to the Basin. According to officials, it's because the demand is so high but there's also a small shortage in the department.

Public Information Officer, Trooper Elena Viramontes, let NewsWest 9 shadow her for the morning. We hopped in with the camera shooting in the front seat while avidly listening to stories and hoped for an exciting stop.

Step 1: "There's nothing routine about a traffic stop," Viramontes said.

Even though they have a seven-step checklist that they can't really deviate too much from. After they pull someone over, she said the situation is ever-changing.

As we navigated through Midland County, near Highway 349, we came across the first offender. A white work pickup had an unreadable license plate. 
Lights flashed and he was pulled over. She came back and ran the driver's information through the computer. "And he's clear," she said. The man was let off with a warning.

Step 2: Everyone's initial target is different.  

Different Troopers navigate towards a certain violation. Some might catch people they see cutting in between the wire median, others might just work construction or accident zones. As for Viramontes, she scours for unfastened seat belts.

Just by looking through the windshield, she spotted one driver coming down the opposite lane without wearing one. She whipped the car around and tracked him over to the side of the road. Upon inspection, his driver's license and registration were also expired. (He had apparently just purchased the old pick up about a week ago.) "I like your truck," she complimented to the driver before sending him on his way. "I like beat up trucks," she told NewsWest 9 after.

Overall it was a slow day with no major crashes or busts. Still, sometimes a simple stop, could turn into a more serious offense.

"You find a lot of different things here. I used to find a lot of dope. A lot of drugs, especially Saturday, Friday Nights," she said.

Viramontes recounted a story where she came across a couple during her rookie days that she had pulled over for something trivial but was sure they had some narcotics on them.

"She had it in her, I could just tell. But we don't do body cavity searches," she explained.

She added that often people think they can fool the troopers but sometimes their body and behavior just give them away.

"Certain people, their carotid artery is the first thing that goes off. And you can't control it," she said.

Another person had to keep wiping off beads of sweat from his head that had already soaked up his headrest. 

Some people have even urinated on themselves in fear.

"He couldn't control it. He was just lying but I was just catching him with so many lies," she said.

But Viramontes isn't a stranger to fear either.

"I think if you're not scared, you're not human. I think fear is part of our lives and not necessarily let's be in fear 24/7 but a little bit of fear is good. It makes us human  and it makes us more alert, more attentive, we pay more attention," she said.