Years of service: Senior trooper honored at badge-pinning event
The Nevada Highway Patrol honored the trooper with the most time under his belt on Friday afternoon.NHP bestowed the title of senior trooper — the longest-serving on the force — on Ron Larson at a ceremony at the Division of Public Safety in Carson City. Larson, a veteran of 24 and 1⁄2 years, was honored by his fellow troopers, sergeants, lieutenants and retired NHP personnel.Larson’s wife pinned the senior trooper badge on him in front of all his compatriots while one of his daughters and his granddaughter sat in the front row, the 16-month-old playing with his official hat.Larson has had a storied career in Northern Nevada, moving his beat between Reno and Carson City, depending on when he tired of one or the other. He spent five years as a sergeant — a supervisor — but found it wasn’t his thing.“I enjoyed being a supervisor but it’s more fun to be a trooper,” he said. “(Being a supervisor,) it wasn’t any fun anymore.”Larson feels the need to be on the road and to be his own boss, not the boss of others. Larson, a light-spoken man, nearly beams when he talks about his job and more so when he talks about his passion: catching DUI drivers.“Taking a drunk driver off the road is a sense of accomplishment,” he said. Every DUI driver taken off the road is a potential fatal accident or injury-accident prevented.Larson put it even more bluntly: one less mother, father, daughter or son was at risk every time he managed to get a drunk driver off the road.With seniority comes privileges, such as being able to work Monday through Friday. Despite not working the weekends, Larson said he is often times able to get more drunk drivers than his weekend-working swing-shift compatriots. He knows what he likes. He likes being on the road. He likes swing shift (noon to 10 p.m.) He likes slick-top cruisers — police cars without the lights on the top of the vehicle, rather in the windows and grills. “Trooper truly is the best job on the highway patrol,” he said.Chief Troy Abney, who retired in California before moving to take the chief position in Nevada, lauded Larson.“We have our customs, rituals and relic,” Abney said, adding that Larson is not one of those relics.“He’s our senior trooper and there can only be one” he said.Abney told the audience he hopes the senior trooper badge will become one of the NHP’s traditions.Larson looked around the room. He saw a retired sergeant who had been his supervisor when he first started. He saw other lieutenants and sergeants whom he had first trained on the street, who have risen through the ranks.“You never thought you’d be in that position,” he said of his senior status.Larson said he plans to retire in April and allow the next most senior trooper take the status.