Trooper Buck L. Up received his badge Monday at the Nebraska State Fair.
“We are very excited to unveil our new mascot,” said State Patrol Col. David Sankey, who presented the badge. “Trooper Buck will be used by our troopers across the state promoting our agency's mission of saving lives on Nebraska roads.”
Sankey said Trooper Buck is “a little modest,” so he would do the honors of talking about the mascot and his purpose.
The number of fatal crashes on Nebraska roads has gone up this year, compared with last year, and troopers are having difficulty pinpointing one specific reason. Of the 116 fatal crashes so far this year, 29 of the people killed were wearing seat belts, he said.
This Labor Day weekend, the State Patrol and other local law enforcement agencies, will be taking part in “You Drink. You Drive. You Lose” campaigns to pair education with enforcement, he said.
While troopers are out on patrol, Trooper Buck will make appearances at various community activities to further spread the patrol's message of buckling up, obeying the speed limit, driving sober and keeping distractions to a minimum when behind the wheel, Sankey said.
“Trooper Buck's No. 1 role is to spread a public safety message,” he said.
The mascot was created by Canadian company Street Characters Inc., which is the same company that created the Nebraska Cornhusker's latest Herbie Husker mascot, he said.
The Nebraska State Patrol Foundation, with a grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation, purchased the $9,000 mascot costume. A committee worked with the Street Characters company to come up with Trooper Buck's look. From his hat to his shoes to his utility belt, “he's a state trooper,” Sankey said.
Marisue Wagner, a State Patrol employee, said the committee submitted photos of actual troopers for reference. As a result, Trooper Buck may resemble a few troopers in the state.
“He's got a little bit of a lot of people in him,” she said.
Sankey said the mascot's name was one of about 100 submissions. Mary Jones, a staff assistant at Troop C in Grand Island, and her children, Kaylee, 11, and Justice, 8, submitted three ideas. Their suggestion of Buck L. Up was selected as the winner.
The patrol has another mascot, Trooper Ted, an large inflatable mascot who debuted in 2004. Sankey said Trooper Buck is more lifelike in appearance and may be more approachable due to his smaller size.
“It is our hope Trooper Buck will engage the young and the young at heart as we work to encourage everyone to wear their seat belt, every trip, every time,” Sankey said. “We think Trooper Buck will make a connection with people.”
The unveiling ceremony concluded with Sankey pinning Trooper Buck's badge to his chest, exchanging salutes and shaking the new mascots hand.
“Welcome aboard,” he said.