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June 2006

Patrolman Michael "Rocky" Bailey

Montana Highway Patrol

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Patrolman Michael "Rocky" Bailey of the Montana Highway Patrol as Officer of the Month for June 2006.

As kids, Rocky and his brother Max were very involved in church activities and athletics; they excelled in gymnastics and weightlifting and both wanted to serve their community. Max became a firefighter and in 1993 Rocky joined the Montana Highway Patrol.

On a bitter cold Montana morning in December 1996, young Trooper Bailey received an emergency call regarding a partially disabled man who had accidentally driven his car off a bank and on to a rock shelf in the Yellowstone River. Trooper Bailey, realizing that the man was trapped, selflessly jumped into action and tried to secure the truck from falling further into the river. To his horror, Trooper Bailey was unable to free the man alone. As water and large bricks of ice rushed past them, the young trooper stayed with the victim in the freezing river for close to an hour, keeping his head above water, until additional personnel and rescue equipment arrived. For his selfless act, Trooper Bailey received the Montana Highway Patrol Award for Meritorious Service.

As any trooper will tell you, no two traffic stops are usually ever the same. In 2002, Trooper Bailey was struck by drunk driver while making a routine traffic stop. Thankfully, his injuries were such that he was able to return to the job he loved. Putting that experience to good use, he conducts lectures and seminars to area high school students about the importance of safe driving and the dangers and consequences of drunk driving.

The following year, Trooper Bailey was assigned as the investigating officer of a fatal, two-car, automobile accident. He was tasked with coordinating the efforts of the ambulance crews, firefighters, and law enforcement authorities, while keeping traffic moving on a business section of roadway. Having investigated many accidents, Trooper Bailey concluded that this one was likely the result of driver error. His thorough investigation provided the jury enough information and evidence to find the surviving driver guilty of negligent homicide.

Ten years after rescuing the gentleman from the raging waters of the Yellowstone River Trooper Bailey responded to a call of a house fire. Upon his arrival at the scene, he was informed that the home was owned by an elderly couple, who had not been seen. Trooper Bailey attempted to enter the home but found the front door locked. Racing to the rear he entered the building in a frantic search for the homeowners who were asleep and unaware that their home was ablaze. They were awakened when they heard Trooper Bailey shouting for them. Grabbing coats to shelter them from the deadly Montana winter, he was able to escort them out of the burning house. His next step was to move the couple's vehicle out of harms way and after which he assisted the firefighters prepare the water hoses to extinguish the blaze.

In presenting Trooper Bailey with the Attorney General's Outstanding Employee Award, Montana Attorney General Michael McGrath, stated that, "Trooper Bailey's caliber of selfless service to the state and his neighbors in the Bitterroot Valley are unparalleled. He truly does 'Do unto others'... in the finest sense." For his unrelenting efforts, dedication to duty, and his willingness to risk his own life to save others, Patrolman Michael "Rocky" Bailey was presented the 2005 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the Victor Masonic Lodge #43. He is a member of the Montana Highway Patrol Officers Association and is a board member of the Montana Hope Project, an organization dedicated to helping terminally ill children.