Thanks for traffic ticket a bit unusual, but respect for service underscores Roeland Park man’s outlook

Todd Steinbrecher with a scrapbook of Navy memories and his time on helicopter missions.
Todd Steinbrecher with a scrapbook of Navy memories and his time on helicopter missions.

It’s not everyday that someone feels grateful for getting a traffic ticket. Todd Steinbrecher of Roeland Park was not only grateful, but he came back days later to thank the officer who gave him the ticket.

Steinbrecher was on his way to the airport, headed to New York in November, when he was driving around Bishop Miege and was pulled over by Roeland Park officer John DeMoss. It was a special trip for Steinbrecher, a Navy veteran with three combat deployments. It was fulfilling a long delayed promise to his wife, a chance to tour the 9/11 Memorial, and be there near Veterans’ Day and a gathering for Iraq veterans.

Anxious about the trip, Steinbrecher said the police stop actually let him savor the New York experience. “It slowed me down and put me back in my shoes. I had an amazing and heartfelt experience.” He and his wife were given a special veterans tour of the museum.

“I know it is atypical, but I have respect for the police force. I wanted to show him pictures of the trip and how he helped slow me down – literally,” Steinbrecher said. “I live in this community and I want to know that I support them.”

Steinbrecher’s story – and his respect for service – runs deeper than the traffic stop, though. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1999 to 2008, becoming a Search and Rescue swimmer – they guys who go into the water under the toughest conditions. His deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq were mostly spent on a helicopter.

And on one of those missions, he was crew chief on a helicopter that went down in the Arabian Sea. With water coming in, they were able to get an engine restarted and limp back to ship. He was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his actions that day.

Steinbrecher’s father served in the Navy. One grandfather was in the Coast Guard and one in the Navy in World War II. His interest in becoming a Navy rescue swimmer came from a shared love with his father of flying, motorcycles and “Top Gun.” His last four years in service were as a rescue instructor in San Diego. An injury during the service years led him to decide on ending his military career.

Steinbrecher and his family moved to Arizona to help when his father was diagnosed with cancer. His father’s death influenced his next career choice – a community liaison for a metro hospice program. He especially focuses on getting veterans the help they need at such a critical time. “This was my dad’s final gift … (for me) to help as many people as possible.” His dad’s passing, a car accident with his daughter (everyone came out Okay) and the birth of another child within weeks in 2013 helped set him on the new course when the family moved back to Roeland Park.

When he made contact at the police department, Chief John Morris signed him up as a block captain.