AAST fosters brotherhood and connects you to fellow troopers in your state and around the country.
The American Association of State Troopers Foundation, Inc. was founded to provide a special way to give back to trooper members...
AAST accepts scholarship applications from the dependents of trooper members for assistance with their post-secondary education expenses.
The Trooper Connection is the official newsletter publication of AAST. See what's going on around the country...
Have you ever heard of a drivable, wooden car? Neither have we, nor had the Nebraska State trooper who pulled over a cedar covered 1985 Pontiac. Nebraska State Patrol shared the find on their Facebook page on Thursday. They said the handmade cedar car is perfectly legal to drive. The trooper stopped the driver for a license plate violation on Highway 281 near the South Dakota border. NSP said the driver handmade the wooden exterior out of cedar. And they say craftsmanship is a thing of the past … Now, THAT made us smile!
Lyle and Kerrie Pohlen lost their 16-year-old son, Johnathon Pohlen, in a car crash in 2013. "To this day, we have good days and bad," Kerrie Pohlen said. "We struggle to get by sometimes." The Pohlens say the loss of their son is like a void that can't be filled. Recently, they got an unexpected reminder in the mail that showed them someone remembers Johnathon. "The card was from Officer Tom Erickson letting us know that he stopped on Interstate 94 to help a vehicle that had a damaged tire and in that process saw Johnathon Pohlen's Adopt-a-Highway sign," Kerrie Pohlen said. She says Erickson was the one who broke the news to them back in 2013 about their son's death. "Officer Erickson came to our home and had to deliver news that no parent would ever want to hear," she said. Erickson says he's driven by the sign many times and never paid any attention to who's name was on it. When he realized who it was, the memory came rushing back. "To add to the difficulty for me, it was the first death notification that I ever had to make to a parent as a parent," he said. "It was shortly after my first son was born." Erickson says he sent the card the day before the anniversary of Johnathon's death. "I thought I should reach out to the family and just let them know that I was thinking about them that day," he said. He wrote, in part, "I wanted to tell you what a great idea and thoughtful tribute it is to Johnathon to adopt the stretch of freeway where he tragically lost his life." It took Lyle Pohlen an hour to read the card. "I would read, like, a sentence and start to cry, and I kept reading it," he said. "It's hard for me to read, but it makes me feel good." The Pohlens say the pain of losing Johnathon is still fresh, but knowing Erickson cared enough to contact them three years later helps. The Pohlens plan on having the highway name adoption take place May 7.
A Virginia State Police trooper has been recognized for her efforts in pursuing the man who murdered two of our co-workers. Trooper Neff was honored with the Mid-Atlantic Association of Women in Law Enforcement Valor Award. The award recognizes “a law enforcement professional who distinguished herself by an act of extraordinary selflessness, personal bravery, courage or self-sacrifice.” Neff was honored for her courageous actions on August 26 pursuing the man who killed WDBJ7’s Adam Ward and Alison Parker. As Neff was pursuing the shooter following a several-hour search, he shot and killed himself.
A Mississippi father and his toddler son share a special bond through the Mississippi Highway Patrol. “I got my state trooper car! You got your state trooper car?” The Dedeaux family lives in Gulfport, but Adam is currently stationed with Troop E in Batesville, five hours away from his family. “We travel pretty frequently up there, and Adam, every chance he gets he comes home. So we try to still kind of keep them visiting,” said Kristen Dedeaux. Adam handmade his two-year-old son, Kannon, his very own trooper outfit with a hat, and even designed his car. “He hand sewed everything for Kannon’s uniform. He bought the little police car and it was black and white but he wanted to make it look like his car,” said Dedeaux. Adam has always had a love for the Mississippi Highway Patrol and has dreamed of being a state trooper. “I really do feel like it is a huge possibility that Kannon might fall in those steps because ever since he could talk, which he’s fixing to be three next month, ever since he’s been able to talk it’s everything’s highway patrol,” said Dedeaux. Little Kannon has always shown an interest in what his dad does. Law enforcement is beginning to look like a generational interest. Adam is a third generation cop, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. “It really hit home with him when he got his trooper hat, though. I think that’s when it really opened up his eyes and he felt like a real state trooper,” said Dedeaux. In the Dedeaux family, the saying rings true: Like father, like son. Officer Dedeaux recently completed his first year with the Mississippi Highway Patrol and 14 years in law enforcement.
A determined gaggle of baby geese separated from their mother by Highway 101 near River Road were rescued, reunited and relocated by a CHP officer, alerted by concerned drivers, the CHP said Monday. A few drivers called for help Saturday at about 6:40 p.m. to report the tiny birds on the edge of Highway 101 at River Road, CHP Officer Jon Sloat said Monday. Officer Josh Phillips, on patrol in the area, took the call. He found the mother goose had made it safely across but five goslings were stuck on the other side looked like they intended to walk into traffic to get to her. Phillips collected the tiny goslings in a bag and reunited them with their mother by the new Sutter Hospital, Sloat said. “They were determined to cross the road- just like the chicken that set a bad example,” Sloat said.
A Rhode Island State Trooper who sprang into action during the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013 is once again running in the race. Trooper Roupen Bastajian had just finished the race and was standing about 200 yards down the road when the first bomb went off. Despite being off-duty and out of uniform, he immediately ran towards the scene and started assisting first responders with tying tourniquets and getting the injured into wheelchairs. He is running again on Monday, just as he has every year since then. But he acknowledged that returning to Boston stirs up many feelings for everyone involved. “Obviously it was a horrific day and it’s a bad memory for everybody,” he told Eyewitness News. “All those families who lost loved ones, it’s like they have to live with that for the rest of their lives. So that’s just not something that goes away.” Sometimes the emotions return as he nears the finish line, he admitted, but along with them comes a sense of gratitude and resolve. “I feel it as I get onto Boylston Street and it just kind of…reality kicks in for a little bit, but you take it in and you’re grateful that the community and all the runners are out there and doing what they’re supposed to do,” he said, “supporting and not letting anything hinder the freedoms that we have in our country.” Along with several other Troopers who are running, Bastajian has helped raise more than $11,000 for the charity Cops for Kids With Cancer, which donates money every year to a deserving family.
The Indiana State trooper who pulled a man from a car that sank in a Steuben County lake last July, saving his life, was honored by the police force Friday. Trooper Chris Kinsey received the state’s third-highest award, the Bronze Star Award, at the Indiana State Police Awards Ceremony in Indianapolis. The Bronze Star Award is reserved for those who perform at a “level clearly beyond exceptions” with a focus on personal “bravery and self-sacrifice.” Joshua Dilley is alive today as a direct result of that. On July 23, then-22-year-old Dilley was heading southbound on Golden Lake Road near County Road 325 West in Steuben County when, for an unknown reason, he drove off the road and crashed into Big Bower Lake. Kinsey was on duty minutes away from lake when the call came in that a man was trapped in his car in the water. At the scene, Kinsey pulled off his vest and utility belt and grabbed a tool used to bust windows, then jumped in the water. The trooper said a witness was already by the car, about 20 feet off the shore and completely submerged. Kinsey said the witness saw the man as the car started to go under the water. Under water, Kinsey said the car’s doors wouldn’t open, but he was able to use the tool on the back window. “With several good hits I finally broke through,” he said. After feeling around the murky waters, Kinsey and Steuben County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Noll were eventually able to recover Dilley and pull him from the car – and to safety. Beyond expectations. Bravery. Self-sacrifice. “It’s very humbling,” said Kinsey. “I did not expect to receive this. I was just out trying to do the right thing.” Kinsey was one of seven state police troopers from the Fort Wayne area who received awards at Friday’s ceremony. Fifty-five officers and individuals received awards in all.
hen Charlie Jones was 18 months old, he came up missing in the house. His parents looked everywhere, but couldn’t find him. Finally, they heard Charlie laughing and followed his voice to the kitchen, where they found him on top of the refrigerator with his hand in the cookie jar. The next day, they put Charlie into a gymnastics program. He was a natural climber, taking after his mother, who also was a gymnast. “That was a big part of my childhood,” Jones said. “My parents were right there behind me the whole way.” Jones went on to become one of the top-ranked young gymnasts in the U.S. He earned 30 national-level medals, including 11 golds. He’s a four-time All-American, and he nearly went to the 2004 Summer Olympics on the U.S. National Gymnastics Team. Jones, an Aurora native, now works as a Colorado state trooper and lives near Mancos with his wife, Chelsea, and kids Ariella, 3, and Titus, 1. At age 17, Jones was ranked as one of the top 15 U.S. gymnasts. He was invited to live and train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. His roommate was Olympic gymnast Steve McCain. Speed-skater Apolo Anton Ohno lived in the room above him. “It was a fun time in life,” he said. “I had opportunities that no one else gets.” Jones trained three times a day, six days a week, going home on Sundays. He was surrounded by some of the best athletes in the country. But he said he soon learned that even world-class athletes deal with ordinary struggles and insecurities. “I realized that you can’t find your identity in being an 11-time national champion,” he said. “My identity can’t be in that, because one day it will all go away.” It went away sooner than he’d expected. Three months before an important Winter Cup competition in 2003, Jones dismounted during practice, and his right shoulder separated. Doctors told him he needed surgery, but could still compete at the Winter Cup without further damaging his shoulder. Jones’ vault was crucial to the team score, so he went through with the competition. Several days later, he had shoulder surgery. “When I came out, the doctors said ‘We’re sorry, you’re done,’” Jones said. After his initial injury, an MRI had missed a razor-thin bone chip the size of a pea, Jones said. The chip had been carving away at the cartilage in his shoulder, and by the time it was discovered, he had almost no cartilage left. He had been training for the 2004 Olympics, and hoped to be at the top of his class for the 2008 Olympics. The hope was gone. “It was a shock,” Jones said. “I was supposed to be getting into my prime, but that went away.” As Jones’ life changed instantly, he thought of his friend Ricky Deci, a 13-year-old gymnast at the Olympic Training Center. He recalled Ricky’s infectious smile and happiness. “He was always having fun,” Jones said. “He couldn’t be brought down in his attitude.” When older kids picked on him, he’d laugh it off. No matter what came his way, Ricky was happy, confident and full of joy, Jones said. One day, at the end of a workout, the team was competing on the pommel horse. Ricky was up last, and to win, he had to nail the dismount. But when Ricky came off the pommels, he landed awkwardly and fell over. A trainer went to Ricky and discovered that he wasn’t breathing. Jones ran across the gym to find more people to help, and when he got back, the trainer was performing CPR. The 13-year-old soon was being hauled off in an ambulance. Two hours later, trainers announced that Ricky had died of a heart arrhythmia. Doctors said there was no way to predict or prevent the attack – Ricky was otherwise in perfect health. As Jones struggled with his injury and loss of career, he remembered how Ricky never let things get him down. “Nothing you threw his way could shake him,” Jones said of his friend. “He lived that way until the end.” Jones turned to his faith. “Those are the moments that make you think what life’s about,” Jones said. “It’s not about being the Olympic gold medalist. It’s not about being a super trooper or being the best at your job. It’s about the relationships you have with your family, your friends and God. ... It was easy for me to transition into the next phase of life.” After retiring from gymnastics, Jones’ journey took him to South America, where he did missionary and humanitarian work for the next few years with Open Doors and 2nd Glance Ministries, a group started by his father Clay Jones. In Colombia, Jones helped liberate orphans from the oppressive FARC guerilla group. In 2011, he worked with Peruvian government officials and civic leaders to fight sex trafficking. After returning to the U.S., he coached gymnastics for about six years. During that time, he began ministering to former military personnel and law enforcement officers. One of those men was a former Navy SEAL. He taught Jones how to use a weapon, and Jones became a proficient shooter. Jones soon found himself expecting a daughter and wanting a stable profession. He applied to the Colorado State Patrol Training Academy in January 2013. Six months later, patrol assignments were available in Lamar, Colorado and Montezuma County. Jones and his wife had always wanted to see Mesa Verde, so they chose Southwest Colorado. Since summer 2013, Jones and his family have lived on a hill outside Mancos with a spectacular view of the La Plata Mountains. As a patrolman, he deals with people who are having the worst day of their lives, Jones said. He meets them in those moments and tells them it will be OK – people are there to help. “I like being a cop because I meet people on that worst day, and I help them through that process,” he said. It’s sometimes stressful, but because he’s grounded in his faith, Jones said he gets through it. He learned how to do that at the Olympic Training Center and with Ricky Deci. “Whether my job goes away tomorrow or I have a career-ending injury – I don’t want to invite those things, and I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt – you’re grounded and you can get through those trials,” Jones said. “You don’t always get out unscathed, but you know you’re coming out of it. That’s what being a gymnast taught me.”
A Virginia State Police trooper made a rescue over the weekend when she found two dogs in Appomattox County. It was shared on the Virginia State Police Facebook page. The post reads: “VSP has gone to the dogs…as we have another K9 rescue to share! Over the weekend, Trooper R.S. Mann was on patrol when she saw two dogs alongside Route 460 in Appomattox County. She immediately stopped and found one canine was injured and the other – the one she’s holding – was not injured. The two dogs were together because the uninjured pup refused to leave the injured dog’s side. Trooper Mann found medical help for the injured K9 and a shelter for the uninjured dog.” The post has been seen by thousands of people since it was posted Sunday night.
A group of Arkansas State Troopers helped make a 10-year-old’s birthday party a celebration that he’ll never forget. When Toxey invited all 21 of his classmates to his birthday party on April 2, not a single person bothered to show up. “Just heartbroken and helpless. It’s the last thing you want to feel for your kid is that no one cared enough to come,” Toxey’s mother Angela Andrews told local reporters. Two days later, five state troopers and Rhino the police K-9 showed up to the Andrews residence to kick off the public relations photoshoot of a lifetime. “Not only did they bring him a birthday cookie cake, but they also brought him all kinds of presents, let him play with Rhino, the K-9, and play with the sirens in their cars,” Angela Andrews wrote on Facebook. “They ate his cake with him and played basketball with him, All out of the goodness of their hearts. They made my sweet baby's day, and his year,” she continued. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will never be able to repay the kindness you showed my family today!" Toxey told THV11 that he "cried a little bit," and that he now wants to become a state trooper when he grows up. So let's hope, for the sake of all the minorities in the area, that Toxey's classmates start treating him better so he'll end up becoming one of the good guys.
It shouldn't take an officer down for communities to realize cops are only human. But when a hit-and-run driver reportedly reversed on Interstate 80 Thursday, running over a motorcycle officer other drivers risked their own lives to stay by his side. "All I could think of was that, to hold his hand and talk to him ... so somehow he would know people cared," Mike Vavak told FOX40. And that is all the injured officer's family could hope for. Vavak said he was knelt down in the fast lane, next to a woman who prayed over that officer's body. He says he was taking slow, labored breaths, but couldn't squeeze his hand. "The amount of emotion that was going for this officer that was down was really touching. Everyone was really shaken up by it,” Vavak said. But those he says he saw taking it the hardest, were the other men and women in uniform who arrived later. Those like CHP officer Jenna Berry who told FOX40 the officer likely stopped to help the driver of that truck who was stopped near the center divider. “We stop to check it the vehicle is out of gas or if something is not wrong, as when he pulled up that vehicle intentionally ran him over,” Berry said. Witnesses told CHP the driver backed into the officer on purpose, then yelled at him before fleeing. That driver left the scene on I-80 near Elkhorn Boulevard, stole a commercial pickup truck near Northgate Boulevard, and led police on a chase to Fairfield where he was eventually arrested. "We investigate the best we can, and pray for a full recovery,” Berry said. CHP has confirmed that the officer is in stable condition. The suspect's identity, however, has not been released. What we do know, that the compassion in Sacramento today overshadowed the cowardice of this act. "How heartless can you be to just do that to someone?” Vavak asked.
When retired state Trooper Steve Sulligan reflects on his life, he more often than not sees the many blessings. That spurs him to look for ways to bless others, especially children. Recently, Sulligan, owner of Blue Ridge Tours in Travelers Rest found a way to bless children and a former high school classmate who has become an author of children's books. Sulligan purchased 25 copies of "The Crumbgrabbers Meet The Honeylou Kids" a children's book authored by Susan Rochester Zucconi. The books, he said, will be donated to the Shriner's Hospital for Children and the Ronald McDonald House, both in Greenville. The books being donated are of Zucconi's Crumbgrabber series of books for children. Sulligan said he noticed on Facebook that his classmate from 35 years ago had become an author and he contacted her. "I thought it was neat what she was doing," Sulligan said. And the title of the book "grabs your attention. I thought the kids would like it. I liked it." So, Sulligan decided to help Zucconi by buying the books and to help children by donating them. The book donation is just one way Sulligan and his wife, Donna, give back to the community. Sometimes,their Blue Ridge Tour business donates a trip to a school that would otherwise not be able to go on a field trip. "We try to choose a school that we know would not be able to go," Donna Sulligan said. During one of the trips, they learned that some of the children had never seen the ocean, much less put their feet in the water. "That's what it's all about," Donna Sulligan said. The Sulligans also provide scholarships for students who can't afford to take a field trip with their classmates. When the scholarship foundation was launched in 2011, Donna Sulligan said she did not know there would be so many children in need. "We have now tripled the scholarships that we're giving to schools and we're also giving field trip grants," she said. Steve Sulligan, a native of Sayreville, New Jersey who has always loved working with kids, spent 25 years in law enforcement in South Carolina as a police officer and a state trooper. While serving as a state trooper spokesperson in the mid-1990s, he got involved in doing Safety City programs and talks at grammar schools. Sulligan said he was also the only state trooper to teach D.A.R.E. in public schools in Greenville County. Sulligan has also long held a passion for buses. When he was transferred to Greenville as a trooper, he'd just reached the age where he could learn to drive a bus, he said. In 1988, he started Blue Ridge Tours on a small scale to make some part-time money because "being a trooper back then, we didn't make a lot of money." The business, he said, "kind of grew" to now being one of the largest in the Upstate. Ninety-nine percent of Blue Ridge Tours' business is with schools, largely field trips with clients statewide and beyond. The business also drives college and professional sports teams on their road trips around the U.S., he said. Personally, Steve and Donna have traveled all around the world because of the job he's had, he said. "I've been blessed with what I have, that's why I give back," Sulligan said. "I realize that when U take a a group of kids to Washington or New York, that may be the only trip they go on in their life, where I've gone on it 100 times.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Trooper Dermyer’s Family and the mebers Virginia State Police. Trooper Chad Dermyer was shot and killed while speaking to a suspicious person inside the Greyhound bus terminal in Richmond, Virginia at approximately 2:45 pm. He and other officers were participating in an interdiction training course and were conducting stops of suspects. He spoke to the man briefly before the man suddenly produced a handgun and opened fire, striking Trooper Dermyer. Other officers who were on scene shot and killed the subject when the man opened fire on them following a short foot pursuit inside the bus terminal. Trooper Dermyer was transported to VCU Medical Center where he succumbed to his wounds. Trooper Dermyer was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. He had served with the Virginia State Police for 17 months and had previously served with the Newport News Police Department. He is survived by his wife and two children.