When my father was missing, Guilderland Police Officer Brust went above and beyond

To the Editor:

With so many stories in the media lately casting a negative light on law enforcement, I thought it was important to show that there are good police officers out there.  Officers who do, in fact, help protect our community, and who actually help people.

A couple of weeks ago, my 72-year-old father was missing.  He was driving from Florida to New York to visit my brother and I, and his grandchildren.  He was supposed to arrive on a Tuesday, and was going to stay with my brother.

Wednesday morning, I was getting texts and phone calls from my brother, saying, “Dad isn’t here yet, I’m worried.”  I was starting to get worried, too, as he was not answering his cell phone, or returning phone calls.  We decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, thinking maybe he took our advice and decided not to drive straight through, and actually stayed overnight somewhere.

By the time I got home from work, my dad still wasn’t here, and still was not answering his cell, or returning calls.  My brother and I decided we needed to get a missing-persons report out.  I tried to call the New York State Police; however, they told me that, since my father resided in Florida, I needed to contact the Florida State Police.

I was a little frustrated with this, as I knew at that point he wasn't in Florida; however, I did what they said.  After being directed to several different county and state police departments, I finally got the correct one.  After giving them all the information, then waiting two hours for a deputy to call me back, I was instructed I needed to go to my local police department.  I needed to get their fax number so that the sheriff’s office in Florida could fax a report there that I had to sign in front of a police officer, and then have them fax it back.

This is how I met Officer James Brust of the Guilderland Police Department.  I remember sitting in the waiting area, waiting for the Florida sheriff’s office to fax over whatever it was I had to sign.

“We will fax it over right now,” they told me.  I sat there waiting, and waiting.

I was shaking and crying because I was worried about my father.  Officer Brust then had me come and sit where his desk was.  At least three or four times he and another officer went to check the fax machine — still nothing.  Next Officer Brust called the deputy in Florida I had been dealing with and had him email whatever it was I had to sign.

Once he received the email, he helped me fill it out and sent it back to the deputy in Florida and again, we waited for a response.  While we were waiting, he took all the little sticky notes I had with my father’s information (his cell phone number, his address, the deputy’s name and number in Florida, etc.) and neatly wrote everything out for me on one piece of paper.  Everything I had was so disorganized because I had been trying to write things down, while on my cell phone — so, needless to say, it was all over the place and messy.

He then started giving me ideas of ways to try to find my father — he asked me if my dad had an EZ-pass; he asked me if the Florida sheriff had tried to ping my dad’s cell phone.  He even tried to call my dad’s cell phone while we waited. Next he called the deputy in Florida to ensure he received the fax (which he did) and asked if there was anything his department could do to help.

Since this was technically “Florida’s case,” there wasn’t much Guilderland could do, but that didn’t stop Officer Brust from trying to help. He called me the next day to see if I had heard anything.  He said he had tried to call my dad’s cell phone several more times after I left the station.  Since I wasn’t getting any answers from Florida as to if they were able to ping my dad’s phone, he asked someone in his department if Guilderland could do it.  Unfortunately, they could not. It wasn’t their case.

I tried to get any information I could to the Florida deputy.  I sent a picture of my father to go with the missing person’s report.  I sent them his doctor’s information and bank information so they could try to track his account.

I just felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere, and they weren’t giving me any information.  I received another call from Officer Brust, stating that he had attempted to call some of the local Veterans Affairs hospitals to see if they had any information on my dad.  He told me that he was leaving the next day for vacation, but that he had sent an email to everyone in his department telling them where all the paperwork for my case was in case I called needing any assistance.

Even though this was not Guilderland’s case, Officer Brust was more helpful to me than anyone I spoke to in Florida.  I understand that each state has different laws and regulations as to how things are handled legally, but I really felt like Guilderland did more to assist me than Florida.  I had to continually call the Florida sheriff to ask for updates, whereas Officer Brust called me daily to see what he could do.

I finally got the missing persons report upgraded to a Silver Alert due to my father’s medical conditions. I sent a more recent picture of my dad the deputy in Florida.

 It was Friday now and still no sight of my father; he still wasn’t answering his phone or returning phone calls.  My brother and I were frantic. Finally, later in the day Friday, my father showed up at my brother’s house.  We were both ecstatic that he was safe and OK. I called Florida to let them know my father was here and was safe so they could cancel the Silver Alert.

My next call was to Officer Brust to tell him the good news. He was as relieved as I was.  I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Officer Brust for all of his help and assistance.  You went above and beyond to help me and I cannot put into words how much that meant to me and my brother, and how thankful we both are for everything you did.  You are an incredible officer!

One last thing, remember how I said I emailed an updated picture of my father to the deputy in Florida?  I got an email from him, thanking me for the updated picture and for my help — a week after my father was found and the Silver Alert had been canceled.

Stephanie Carter


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