Longtime Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman to retire

ST. CHARLES, MO (KPLR) – For the last 16 years, Sgt. Al Nothum has served as the spokesman for the Missouri State Highway Patrol. But he’s retiring June 13.

As Nothum inches closer to retirement, he's trying not to count the days. He respects the job, but said now is the right time to move on.

“It’s been an amazing career,” Nothum said. “I loved the patrol. They have taken care of me, so it’s with mixed emotions I leave too.”

Nothum has been with the state police for 22 years; he also served as a member of the SWAT team and Missouri Honor Guard.

“I was always honest with the public and told them what happened. Sometimes I told them too soon and things changed, but it was better than not telling them anything,” Nothum said.

Of all the memories, Nothum first brings up the loss of coworkers and friends.

“Ralph Tatoian, my partner on SWAT, was killed; Joe Schuengel, our pilot. Dennis Engelhard was killed on I-44 Christmas Day a few years back,” he said.

As he leaves the patrol, Nothum said distracted driving remains the number one cause of crashes, but people have been doing better with their cellphones.

“It’s the other things causing distractions, like cigarettes, shaving, reading; take eyes off road for a split second,” he said.

Nothum said until people start wearing their seatbelts, we’ll never stop the fatalities that come with serious crashes. He believes if we could get 95 to 97 percent seatbelt use, it would cut the state’s fatal accidents in half.

The outgoing sergeant has one other message for the public: the state police needs good men and women to apply for jobs. When Nothum applied for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, he said approximately 5,400 people applied for 54 spots. The last application process that was held, only 300 people turned out.

“I’ve seen some of the most amazing men and women come through here, highly educated. They could be doing anything else, making 10 times as much, but they choose to do this career,” Nothum said.