FOREST CITY — While many siblings and relatives work in law enforcement together, none share a working relationship quite like the Horton brothers, who are all troopers with the North Carolina Highway Patrol and assigned to Rutherford County.
The Hortons are the first and only trio of siblings who have simultaneously worked for the NCHP.
Oldest brother John, 34, has worked in law enforcement with the NCHP for nearly eight years. While attending Appalachian State University and working toward a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, John became interested in law enforcement.
“My interest was sparked by my roommate who joined the Highway Patrol around 2003,” John said. “He’s a lifelong friend and started recruiting me, and he’s actually a trooper currently assigned to Rutherford County, too.”
Middle brother Nick, 28, has served four years in law enforcement. Prior to joining the NCHP, he worked as a reserve deputy with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office for a brief period of time. Nick attended Isothermal Community College but joined the patrol before graduating.
“Unfortunately there will always be crime, and my brother (John) talked me into joining the Highway Patrol,” Nick said. “There was also the lure of fighting crime, high-speed chases and things of that nature, as well as the good benefits with the job.”
Youngest brother Joe, 24, joined the NCHP about three years ago and was assigned to Rutherford County in August 2013.
Like his brother Nick, he was taking classes at Isothermal Community College but joined the patrol prior to graduating.
“I heard these stories of glory and crime fighting, and my brothers talked me into joining the Highway Patrol,” Joe said.
Although the Horton brothers work for the same law enforcement agency, they each find different aspects of the job to be most enjoyable.
“I enjoy the autonomy of the job — being able to go, do and see,” John said. “I try to mix my days up the best way I can so it’s not so routine.”
John said he likes the ability to pick and choose what assignments to cover, from seatbelt enforcement and registration violations to speeding citations and investigative stops.
“Other times I try to focus on different motor vehicle laws, too,” John said.
As for Nick, providing road assistance is at the top of his list.
“I really enjoy helping stranded motorists by assisting them with getting gasoline or contacting a tow truck to help get them back on their way,” Nick said.
While Joe appreciates several aspects of the job, what he likes most is serving the citizens in his hometown.
“I enjoy being able to protect and serve the community I grew up in,” Joe said.
Despite the positive components of working in law enforcement, a career with the NCHP is not without its obstacles.
The Horton brothers each encounter their own set of challenges including rotating shifts between days and nights, pulling over family members or long-time friends and responding to various incidents.
“Going from the scene of a robbery to investigating a wreck, it can be difficult to transition so quickly and keep even emotions,” Joe said.
Since joining the patrol, the Hortons have learned a variety of professional and personal skills.
“I have a better understanding of what goes on in the court system, a better understanding of people and better time management skills,” John said.
“I have learned about investigating vehicle collisions, drag factors across different surfaces and how vehicles react to collisions involving movable and non-movable objects,” Nick added.
Joe even credits his safe driving skills to his job with the NCHP.
“We went through a two-week driving school, and I can drive better since joining the force,” Joe said. “I have also learned how to interact with people better and have worked on my public speaking skills.”
Yet, there is one major similarity that John, Nick and Joe share — working with the NCHP together has literally been like a brotherhood.
“A goal of mine was I wanted to see my brothers join the Highway Patrol, and there was an understanding with supervisors that we would get to work together,” John said. “Being able to work with my brothers is getting to be with people who I can trust. It’s actually a brotherhood and a great working relationship to have.”
Nick said he and his brothers have responded to serious wrecks together and the relationship has been working out well.
“It’s always great working with family. We were raised to get along,” Nick said.
“Knowing that law enforcement has your back, especially your own brothers, it’s a whole other level of trust,” Joe added.