DPS volunteer reservist patrols the highways

Four days a week, John Brown cruises the county's highways and Interstate 40 looking for abandoned or broken-down vehicles or motorists in need.

Brown volunteers from 30 to 40 hours a week with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, driving I-40 or highways 93 or 68 in search of a stranded motorist whose car has overheated or ran out of gas.

Brown, 75, became a volunteer 10 years ago after spending time riding around with a neighbor, a DPS officer.

The former business owner from Colorado and his wife moved to Kingman 13 years ago.

"Like a lot of other things, it just happened," Brown said of his applying for the volunteer position.

With other counties like Yavapai County having as many as a dozen DPS volunteer reservists, Mohave County has Brown.

"We have the best," DPS Lt.

John Tibbetts, commander of the Kingman office, said.

"John Brown is the best there is.

Other counties have more.

We only need one."

In a patrol car similarly marked like a DPS cruiser, Brown carries extra water, tools, jumper cables, a floor jack and an empty gas can for stranded motorists.

He said he does not carry gas in the can because of the dangers of carrying gas but will occasionally transport a driver to a station.

Brown, who is not empowered to enforce traffic violations, may stop a vehicle, recreational vehicle or a tractor-trailer to point out safety issues such as an unsecured back door or window or a cargo door.

"It's a good thing I don't get paid," Brown said with a grin.

"Some days I just burn a lot of gas."

He is often mistaken for a highway patrol officer and has learned to approach a stopped vehicle with caution, coming up to the passenger side instead of the driver's side, as a DPS officer would normally do.

Luckily, he has not been involved with any serious incidents.

The worse case took place at a rest area on U.S.

93.

Brown, who smokes, was cussed out by a woman on a bicycle while he investigated another vehicle.

Standing toe to toe with the woman who objected to his smoking even though he was outdoors, the easygoing Brown ended up calling a DPS officer for help.

"If she had a knife, I'd be in trouble," he said with a laugh.

"I've learned a lot of different things from people I've seen."

The most memorable events are fatal accidents.

One fatality occurred shortly before Christmas during his first year as a volunteer.

"The poor, dead woman was trapped in the vehicle and there were Christmas presents scattered all over the place," Brown said.

"I'll never forget that."

Brown will assist DPS officers at accidents by helping fill out forms or control traffic.

He will also make mail runs to Phoenix, pick up supplies or deliver patrol vehicles back and forth to Flagstaff for repairs, Tibbetts said.

Summer is usually the busiest time of the year.

He has been known to drive up U.S.

93 to Hoover Dam and not see anything, then on the way back see a number of cars in need of help.

This winter he has seen an unusual number of blown tires, he said.

Driving the roadways, he finds on his own about 90 percent of vehicles whose drivers need assistance with the rest coming from calls from dispatch.

The county does have one other volunteer DPS reservist: a Kingman Methodist minister.

The Rev.

Bob Cutlipp mainly responds to serious or fatal traffic accidents by providing spiritual assistance to victims or highway patrol officers, Tibbetts said.

Tibbetts said to qualify as a volunteer, one would have to fill out an application and pass a polygraph test and have a background check.

Volunteers also may not have a felony record or have a checkered driving record.