ORLANDO, Fla. – When Trooper Steve Montiero first started with the Florida Highway Patrol, he had no idea he would end up one day as the traffic safety expert at WKMG News 6.
But thanks to Lt. Kim Montes, he got the experience on television and got that chance.
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Montiero recently sat down with Montes ahead of her retirement from the FHP after nearly 30 years.
“What was the deciding factor in grabbing me and pulling me out of the tourist district and saying, ‘You’re no longer on motors. And you now work for me.’ How? Why? I had no formal training,” Montiero asked.
“I did not have any help. And I had a lieutenant that was on a fatal scene overnight and called me and of course, you know, six counties getting up every night to come to every fatal was challenging,” Montes said. “And so he said, ‘Hold on, I’ve got a trooper here, looks good in uniform. Let’s have him deal with the media.’ So he basically threw you out in the fire. And the next day he came to me and says, ‘Wow, this guy, this guy, I could see him doing exactly what you do. He was professional. He looked good in uniform. He did everything, he helped get the information, the media.’ And that’s how it kind of started.”
Montes joked about Montiero bringing her into the ever-changing world of technology to assist with the job.
“You started our Twitter account here,” Montes said. “I was in my late 40s. And I did not want to tweet. That’s not something that a lot of older people do. And you took it and ran with it before you even officially started working with me. And I saw that.”
Montes said the biggest reason she chose Montiero to work with her was their similar passion for traffic safety.
“I think me wanting somebody that kind of had the same mindset, the same mission, the same goal for traffic safety, the same passion. I was so thrilled that you got to come work for me,” Montes said.
But working for Montes led to more opportunities for Montiero.
“There would be no Trooper Steve without Lieutenant Kim Montes,” Montiero said.
“When I got that phone call from your news director saying that she was going to steal you from me, I had mixed emotions. I clearly was selfish, because I know how good we work together,” Montes said. “But I was so proud that they thought that you had done such a good job, and you represent FHP so well. I was so proud that they thought to take that and run with a new perspective on how to do traffic news. And a traffic anchor being a trooper is genius. That transformation made me proud. And I call you my work son.”
“Thank you,” Montiero said. “Because you paved my life, you’ve changed it. And I don’t know what the future has. But I am glad that no matter what, you and I will still be friends.”