College News

Barton Criminal Justice student finds success as Kansas Highway Patrol Officer

patrolman standing in front of car

November 16, 2021
Story and photo by Joe Vinduska

There is an old saying that “TV rots your brain,” but for 23-year-old Seth Gruber of Russell that was not the case. In fact, his penchant for crime shows lead to his career in law enforcement. 

“Criminal Justice was always an area that interested me since I was young,” he said. “I was always fascinated by all the small details that investigators were able to uncover during various investigations you’d see on TV.”

Gruber found his way to law enforcement through Barton’s Emergency Medical Services program. He discovered that taking EMS courses would count towards his Criminal Justice degree, so he dove in and worked his way through Barton’s program including the real-life-scenario-packed “Field Ops Day” that the department holds each spring. 

“I was able to do the Field Ops Day with the EMS program in 2017 and was very ecstatic that I did, as it was a great opportunity to see how all the agencies work together and see some scenarios I could be faced with in the future,” he said. “Then, as a part of the Criminal Justice program, I was also able to participate in the law enforcement side of Field Ops Day in the Spring of 2018. Again, this was a great opportunity to have certified officers from the surrounding areas come to share with us scenarios they have faced previously and provide us with advice to ensure we would have long-lasting careers.”

However, it was not just the hands-on experience he received during Field Ops Day that he found beneficial. 

“Some of my closest friends from Barton that were in the criminal justice program at the same time I was are now certified law enforcement officers all around the state, and they are a valuable tool and resource to reach out to,” he said. 

Gruber left Barton with his associate degree in Criminal Justice in 2018. However, he was still too young to enroll in the Kansas Highway Patrol’s (KHP) training program, so he worked for the City of Hoisington in various roles learning more and more about civic infrastructure that he hoped to one day protect and serve as an officer of the law. He also volunteered as an EMT for the Hoisington and Moundridge departments. 

Gruber turned 21 in late 2018 and enrolled in the KHP’s program. He was hired in June of 2019 and stationed in Western Kansas along I-70 in Logan County. 

While there were numerous agencies Gruber could’ve worked for, choosing the KHP was a no-brainer. 

“I chose to become a State Trooper as they were always viewed as the elite group in Kansas,” he said. “Also, there are no boundary or jurisdiction lines or restrictions on where they can go to help someone in need.”

Gruber said he took the job knowing it was a difficult one, but vital to the very existence of our society. His day-to-day life is filled with unknowns, but that is part of the allure for him. 

“Law enforcement officers are a necessity to hold everyone accountable for their actions, whether someone was watching or not,” he said. “My favorite part is never knowing what my day will consist of or who I will have the opportunity to meet. My office views from my patrol vehicle are something you won’t find anywhere else.”

Visit for more information on the Criminal Justice program.