At the start of every shift for Moscow police officers, there is a briefing meeting to pass important information between shifts.
On the night of April 30, that meeting had just begun when the radios in the room echoed news of a two-car collision with multiple injuries on Styner Avenue. Just like that, officers were running to their cars and rushing to the scene.
Flashing lights, an ambulance, one car completely damaged with both air bags deployed and the windshield shattered, and one of the drivers sitting on the sidewalk surrounded by medical staff.
The first driver had been turning left while picking up an item he dropped onto the floor, while the second driver was at that corner going straight and had no time to swerve out of the path of the distracted driver.
It was just another night for the officers.
They immediately went about their different duties – they have their routine down to a science. Traffic must be directed, insurance and family information taken from the drivers, ambulance and tow trucks called, interviews with witnesses and passengers, and communication between officers all has to happen quickly.
Sergeant Art Lindquist has been in law enforcement in the Moscow area for over 20 years, and said he has been personally affected by many calls he has been on.
“When we go on calls, we kind of play the what-if game – even on traffic stops I”m looking for any kind of averted movement,” Lindquist said. “Sometimes you just get that gut feeling that something is really wrong, but you still keep going forward.”
He said being an officer can be stressful, and living with a constant fear that comes with being a person who has put people in jail can affect officers” lives negatively.
“The average person doesn”t experience that,” Lindquist said. “They don”t experience walking out of work and having to look left, right, up and down because you”re looking for someone who could potentially attack you.”
Lindquist has a wife and three children, who he said have always been supportive and understanding. His oldest child, University of Idaho senior Kaytee Lindquist, said she is proud of what her dad does, but that she is in constant fear for his safety.
“It”s terrible and wonderful all at the same time. I get to say what my dad does and be prideful about it and know that he makes a difference,” Kaytee said. “But it”s a rough life.”
She said her parents sent her to counseling in 7th grade to help with her anxiety and worry for her dad.
“(The counselor) dealt with it by sitting in a room and telling me my dad was going to die over and over again,” Kaytee said. “A week later the police officer was shot, so that caused a lot of issues for a really long time for me.”
That officer was Lee Newbill, who died in the line of duty in 2007. Kaytee said her family knew Newbill well, and the aftermath of his death was horrific for her, but that her dad handled it well.
“He got home at like 9 a.m. the next day, I just remember him walking up and I didn”t know what to say to him for the first time in my life,” Kaytee said. “So I just gave him a hug and tried to be very numb with it all.”
When Lindquist got the call with the news of the shooting, he was put in charge of doing a background investigation on the suspect and working out a plan to negotiate with him.
“I actually blew the engine out that night because I was driving very fast to get in,” Lindquist said. “To get there and to try to distance yourself from the personal sorrow and a natural revenge was part of me doing my job that night.”
He said his kids all had issues with the event, and the stress of helping them through it was difficult in itself, but it also affected the department.
Lindquist said calls like that make him worry for his family.
“Most of the bad things I see I can deal with it, but when I try to extend it to my family as that possibly occurring to them, that”s where it becomes stressful,” Lindquist said.
He said he and fellow Officer Casey Green were the first ones on scene after the murder of UI student Katy Benoit in 2011.
“I didn”t know her, but it was a young lady that lost her life and that was very sad,” Lindquist said. “She had the same first name as my daughter and was she getting ready to start college, so that was kind of scary in that aspect.”
Lindquist said he has seen many deaths and injuries during his career, but that he loves serving his community and can”t imagine doing anything else with his life.
“I”m proud of my dad because he spends his life protecting other people – especially the people who don”t deserve it,” Kaytee said. “It would be really easy to walk away from those people, and he”s never even wanted to.”