SPARTA, Mich. (WOOD) - Hunter Hall never met Paul Butterfield.
But dedication to duty helped bridge the nearly 5,000 miles that separate Soldotna, Alaska -- where Hall serves as an Alaska State Trooper -- and Manistee, Mich.
Hull traveled to Michigan to attend the funeral of Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield, who was shot in the head during a traffic stop Monday in Mason County and died a few hours later in surgery.
"I don't think that people understand the respect that we have for each other. Not just Alaskan State Troopers and Michigan State Police, but all law enforcement in general," Hull said. "It's a tough job. People don't see the bad side of it like we do."
And sometimes, that bad side creates a dangerous situation. Having each other's backs creates a unique bond. But there's more to it.
"Nobody ever calls a trooper or a police officer when they're having a good day. It's usually when they're at their worst point in their life or something's going horribly wrong that day. That's the only time we see them. When you deal with that for a long time, it starts to wear on you," said Hull, a White Cloud native who took the job in Alaska after working for the Newaygo County Sheriff's Department.
A shared understanding of what it's like to put on the badge helps smooth out the rough times. It strengthens the bond, creating what most consider a brotherhood among officers -- no matter where they work and no matter how great the distance.
Saturday, when the expected crowd of over 1,000 officers line up to honor one of their own, they'll be reminded of the dangers.
"It's a very sobering feeling.," Hull said. "You can't really describe it unless you're standing there, you're watching everything. Police officers from everywhere, they come to pay their respects and it's very sad," Hull said.
But for many, including Hull, the funeral of one of their own also serves to strengthen their resolve.
"When you can see that much support and respect from everybody, you realize, 'I'm doing the right thing. I'm out helping people and trying to make a difference in the world,'" Hull said. "That's the reason I took this job. I wanted to do something where every day, I could make a difference in somebody's life."
Public visitation will open around 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Manistee High School. Butterfield's funeral is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. It will air on WXSP and stream live on woodtv.com. There will not be a public funeral procession or graveside service.
Those wishing to make a memorial contribution to the Butterfield family may send checks payable to:
Michigan State Troopers Assistance Fund
1715 Abbey Rd, Suite B
East Lansing, MI 48823
Memo: Tpr. Paul Butterfield II
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