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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : opinions : opinions April 17, 2015

9/10/2013 6:02:00 AM
Editorial: Heroes drive toward danger

In the wake of the Yarnell Hill fire, in which 19 of Prescott's Granite Mountain Hotshots died on June 30, a lot of talk has arisen about what constitutes a "hero."

In our book the firefighting crew and their actions exemplify that moniker. Not to overuse the label, Department of Public Safety Officer Jeremy Barr also is a hero in every sense of the word.

This past weekend we brought you the story about his encounter with a wrong-way driver - his second in four months - on Interstate 17.

Why was he so determined in stopping this second one? The first, on May 25, after barely clipping his patrol car, ended minutes later with the wrong-way driver and a woman in another of three vehicles dead, as well as a third person sent to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Thus, on Labor Day, when the call came about a wrong-way driver traveling south in the northbound lanes of I-17 near Cordes Junction, Barr placed himself in harm's way to stop this threat and prevent injuries. With some tricky maneuvering of his patrol car, Barr angled his police car and hit the woman's vehicle on the front driver's side, forcing her into the median - with him going 50 mph and her traveling at an estimated 70 mph.

"It's unnerving to have headlights come at you in the dark. But I knew with the traffic behind me, if she didn't stop, she was going to kill someone else," he told Prescott Newspapers, Inc.

And, thankfully, neither Barr, nor the driver, was injured in the collision.

We are sure you have heard the mission statement of "Protect and Serve." Some might say that Labor Day encounter is the nature of his work. But when society has people who run toward danger rather than away from it and do so with service above self in mind, we cannot help but cheer.

Angels, guardians, Good Samaritans and heroes exist among us and oftentimes we do not know their names. This one, Jeremy Barr, works for DPS.

"I was just trying to do what I can do. The timing was perfect. She walked away and went to jail, and I walked away, and the car will be fixed eventually," he said.

Kudos go to Mr. Barr and our heartfelt thanks for a job well done.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by: Rancher up north

So Tom thinks it's less dangerous for an officer to race ahead of a misguided missile headed into unsuspecting oncoming traffic that's moving at highway speeds in its direction, throw down a spike stick and then fall back behind the missile and pray it works before they both get slammed? Whoa there, Tom! We use variations of that maneuver (sans the spike strips) working roundups. But we aren't talking cowy horses and cattle here. My hat's off to Officer Barr, Officer Malloy and the others that summon courage and risk their lives when needed to protect the public. Good job!

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by: Rick Weigele

Officer Barr is truly a hero in his actions on
I-17, Thank you Officer Barr and thank you Arizona Department of Public Safety for what your agency does to protect us on a daily basis.
There is another officer I would like to mention that did the exact same maneuver on I-17 a few years back, his name is Officer Duncan Malloy (Retired DPS) and he rammed his car into a wrong way driver near Sunset Point causing both his patrol car and the drunk driver to crash. I am not taking anything away from Officer Barr, he is a Hero, I am just mentioning another Hero that no one knew about.
What a great day to honor heroic individuals as 12 years ago today many died as a result of the terrorist attack on the United States.
God Bless Officer Barr and Officer Malloy and God Bless America

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by: AT HOOTY HOO

"Is it legal to shoot a person who's doing that?"

The subsequent investigation would find it "Within Policy" and there will be no prosecution. As in almost all police shootings. The miniscule few that do result in prosecution do not result in a conviction.

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by: Old Gringo

Now Steele is an expert on law enforcement procedures. I can hardly wait until he shows up at a fire and starts to critique the firefighters methods ! Tom, just go back to checkers and leave the public safety issues to the big boys.

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by: B W

Sorry Mr. Steele, but I am certain, in the heat of battle or the crisis of an emergency no one has ever said "thank God there was an attorney present."

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by: REAL AMERICAN C.P.O. USN Retired RETIRED OLD MAN

NO 'PROFESSIONAL SPORT' athlete is a HERO!!! When you look at it they are just 'PLAYING GAMES' and got mostly 'LUCKY' and have SOME skills to play pro sports 'anything'!!

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: Alan Whitney

They also ride to the sound of guns...

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: Hooty Hoo

I like the permanent one way tire spike strips idea. It's usually a drunken mistake, and that would probably prevent a problem "down the road" so to speak. Maybe those things are hard to go over at 60 miles an hour or something. So off ramps are pretty high speed.

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: Hind Sight is 20-20, they say

I agree with another poster here...sometimes decisions have to be made in just seconds, not minutes. And, yes, perhaps there was not time to get spike strips in place, and there was an absence of tire pokers on the on-ramps. This officer made a quick decision using quick thinking, to avoid something he had seen happen in the recent past, even though it put himself in the direct path of harm's way. Whether DPS would 'like' it, it follows policy or not, this officer IS a HERO. I pray that God (mine, maybe not his) bestows this man with many blessing in his life. There is no greater sacrifice than a man who lays down his life for others. This is exactly what he did. Now, put in those on-ramp pokers, supply every officer with spike strips, then maybe next time, the situation won't call for such drastic measures, but this one did and Officer Barr rose to the occasion. Let's call it what it was, heroic!! Kudos and Thanks to Officer Barr!!!

-A Prescott Woman

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: Too many wrong-way in same area

Too many wrong-way in same area. Somebody ought to look into how ADOT designed that intersection. It leads people in the wrong direction.

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: Gary Dean

To all of you that are questioning the actions of the DPS officer, let me ask you this, what would you have done? During my driving career, I was asked twice by DPS to use my truck as a road block. I was more than glad to do it,and my company stood behind me. However it was a bit unnerving to have a LEO lean over the front fender prepared to fire at the approaching car. But, if I have the chance to do it all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat.Anything to save an innocent person from harm. Thank you officer Barr.

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: Local Citizen

Some of the citizens will never be happy with any law enforcement decision. Maybe YOU should apply, strap on the badge and gun and show us how its done properly.

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: @ SM

As with many posters, you want to go back to the beginning of time and correct all the mistakes that have been made, but nothing you suggest would have dealt with the immediate problem of this woman coming down the highway the wrong way. Saying "we should have" is fine, but the fact is we didn't, so we have an actual situation that needed to be dealt with, not some plan for dealing with the future. There is no time to go back to the drawing board before dealing with the current situation.

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: Hooty Hoo

Is it legal to shoot a person who's doing that? They are almost always blind drunk if they keep driving like that. The ones who make a mistake pull off the road. I think it happens a lot on the reservations. A friend of mine's wife was hurt by a wrong way driver in I-17 some years back.

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: S M

Officer Barr's conduct was exemplary, but unnecessary. Installing permanent one way only tire flattening spikes at the exit ramps would stop drivers from entering, and going the wrong way. It is distressing that a solution to this frequent problem, and so many others, is rarely any part of the conversation. We have become a society obsessed with treating symptoms, instead of causes. The application of intelligence will reduce our need for heroes.

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: Carol Burnett

Gosh, somebody should write a front page story about this guy. Maybe it's not that our language is deteriorating, but our ability to comprehend it is always being challenged.
Read your article yesterday with admiration for the officer, read this today and now I'm suspecting somebody's just trying to manipulate my feelings.

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Steele

I doubt if Barr's DPS management approved of what he did with the liability and his potential loss of life. While it was an heroic act, would he have been better off throwing down a spike strip and following the wrong way driver?

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