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The Trooper Connection is the official newsletter publication of AAST. See what's going on around the country...
Welcome to Hampstead with its cornfields, two-lane roads and streets lined with American flags. It's a town of roughly 6,300 people that can't hide from the nation's heroin epidemic. "You here stuff around here, Westminster... you know a lot of different people that you wouldn't think how big of an involvement it is,” said Dawn Caltrider. “It's getting pretty big around here." But it's a little less big after an otherwise routine traffic stop on Interstate 95 landed a pair of drug kingpins behind bars after troopers discovered two kilos of cocaine in the trunk of their vehicle. At that point in the investigation, heroin in Hampstead or elsewhere was nowhere on their radar. "I was a Baltimore City police officer,” said Fred Geerken. “We had some of the same problems. How many police can you devote to that versus the other things that are going on, but I think maybe a task force---a special group." Enter the Carroll County Drug Task Force, which had already identified 32-year old Shani McDonald of Windsor Mill as a major heroin dealer in Hampstead, Manchester, Finksburg and Westminster. 49-year old Vernon Kidd, Jr. of Finksburg was the driver. "These two individuals were also suspects in what has been a six-month long investigation including law enforcement, not just in other states, but several departments here in Maryland and what they have found is that these two suspects were involved in the large-scale distribution of illegal drugs to include a lot of heroin, cocaine and other substances," said Elena Russo of the Maryland State Police. Police raided two houses tied to McDonald along with a pair of additional stash houses and turned up $140,000 worth of heroin, a pair of handguns and ten grand in cash, while shutting down a major distributor in Carroll County. "This operation has impacted the number of overdoses that we've seen particularly in Carroll County,” said Russo. “In 2015, there were 43 overdoses. In 2016, we are up to 113. That's a 162% increase, and again, our investigators believe that these two are directly impacting those numbers." At the time of their arrest, police believe the two men had just picked up the cocaine from New York and were bringing it back to distribute in Carroll County. A trooper initiated that stop when he noticed someone in the car wasn't wearing their seatbelt.
It's a busy late summer day on the Saint Lawrence River, and it's all to thank veterans and Fort Drum soldiers. Bob Cooke, North Country Troopers Assisting Troops said, "New Jersey State Police has an event like this. Some of our guys went there and said we would like to put something like that on here in a local sense with Fort Drum." North Country Troopers Assisting Troops hosted its fourth annual fishing event in Clayton Sunday to thank more than 80 active military members and veterans. The troops went out in boats with law enforcement and other sponsors to enjoy a day catching fish like walleye or pike. There were also 28 professional fishing guides from Cape Vincent, Alexandria Bay and Clayton, helping troops and troopers catch as much as they can. "We did better than last year," veteran Ryan Rhoades said. "I think all of us pretty much caught two or three fish a piece, so it's a pretty good turnout today." 10th Mountain Division soldier Isaac Rightnowar said, "We started out with a three and a half pounds mallmouth and we got that one in. These guys really took place in helping out and making sure that fish was in the live well." The fishing trip ended with a boat procession, led by the Coast Guard and a Clayton fireboat. Once they arrived back, they were greeted by civilians and state police officers, thanking them for their service. The troops said it means a lot. "The community coming out to thank us, we appreciate them," SFC Oswaldo Maldonado, 10th Mountain Division said. "We appreciate the New York state troopers. " Showing support with a calm summer day on the seaway.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and members of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Trooper Kenneth Velez was struck and killed by a vehicle while conducting a traffic stop on I-90, near the Warren Road exit, in Cuyahoga County. Trooper Velez had served with the Ohio State Highway Patrol for 27 years. He is survived by his wife and three children. End of watch: September 15, 2016
Nine new four-legged troopers with a nose for explosives have been welcomed to the Washington State Patrol. According to the State Patrol’s blog, Moss, Ralph, Maxo, Buster, Evie, Frankie, Mitchell, Vilma and Rex graduated from the 20th Explosive Detection Canine Handler Course on Sept. 2. Chief John Batiste himself presented them with their official Washington State Patrol K9 badges. Also honored were Master Trainer Steve Gardner and Trooper Matt Chatterton, who is Evie’s handler, who were presented with 20-year service pins. Kate Park was given a certificate of appreciation for her dedication to the Homeland Security Division.
A woman is praising a Massachusetts State Police trooper who she says went above and beyond to take care of her and her dog following a crash. She said the accident would have been routine if she didn’t have her large Great Dane dog in the back seat. Trooper Sullivan of the Newbury barracks, as State Police put it, “assisted in a Great (Dane) way.” The woman said Cowboy would have “lost his mind” if he had to stay in her car while it was towed. Great Danes are by nature sensitive dogs. So Trooper Sullivan let the dog climb into his cruiser. The trooper dropped the woman and her Great Dane off where she needed to meet her husband to get a ride. “Thank you!!! A million times over!!” the woman wrote to police.
You've heard about acts of kindness among strangers, but here's one that breaks the mold. The center divide of Interstate 80 is an unforgiving no-man's land populated by the broken down or the desperate. Last Saturday night, John Badial of Vacaville fit the latter category. "All my money for the week, all the money we had was in the center divide," Badial said. He's an auto mechanic and father of two who made the common mistake of leaving his wallet on the roof of the family car. "I went right over the bump and I happened to glance in my rear-view mirror and saw everything fall out of my wallet and hit the ground," Badial said. California Highway Patrol Ofc. James Morrell doesn't often receive calls about people crawling around highway medians in the dark on their hands and knees. "I thought he was broken down or ran out of gas, something like that," he said. As Morrell soon learned those $200 meant everything to a man with a family living paycheck top paycheck. "Everything is accounted for. Every nickel gets spent, pretty much, so it was a huge loss for us," Badial said. But there is more to this story because Morrell is second generation CHP and there was something about Badial's plight that touched him. As he escorted him to a gas station, he noticed a cash machine nearby. While Badial filled up his tank with gas, Morrell withdrew $60, walked over and gave it to him. "Because that is how I was raised, my parents taught me to help everyone in any way that I'm able to do. And that's again the reason why I got this job. I wanted to help everybody," Morrell said. "I was pretty thankful and got choked up about it because he doesn't know me from Adam, you know," Badial said. They know each other, now. Two strangers linked by bad luck and goodwill and an act of kindness on a busy highway.
Hundreds of Marylanders joined state troopers and their community partners at the JFK Highway Barrack's 2016 Safety Fair to benefit the Maryland Food Bank. Almost 600 lbs. of food were collected while youngsters had a chance to see K-9 demonstrations, sit in Maryland State Police vehicles, and play a host of interactive games while enjoying the free Nathan's hot dogs.
It’s been quite a week for the Connecticut State Police. A homicide investigation, manhunts, DUI checkpoints, motor vehicle accidents. But there is one story that put feather in troopers’ hats on social media: A post on their Facebook page about a hawk walking on I-91 in Cromwell earlier this week. The post on the Connecticut State Police’s Facebook page got over 1,000 shares and more than 320 comments. Along with publishing photos of the hawk on the side of the highway, the pun-laden post took flight, triggering a flock of comments. It read: “Troopers, Connecticut Department of Transportation service patrol and Connecticut State Environmental Conservation Police flocked to the area of I-91 north near exit 21 to provide some assistance to a hawk strolling along the shoulder. Luckily things didn’t take a turn for the worse and we were able to take the hawk under our wing and protect it from the cars flying by. No fowl play is suspected in this case - DEEP will be providing further assistance.” The hawk, which did survive, was taken by Cromwell Animal Control to recover. Days later, state police used the hawk story to get out a highway safety message. Using a photo of the hawk walking down the highway, Trooper Tyler Weerden, who is the state police’s social media specialist, created a graphic titled “Hawk’s Corner. Winging Good Information Your Way.” It answered the question: “recently saw a hawk on the highway and couldn’t help but wonder if any laws were broken?” After saying no laws were broken “just a few ruffled feathers,” it listed want is not allowed on the highway, like pedestrians, Segways, golf carts and “shenanigans.” The post, again, received a number comments and likes including one from Eva MariaPuo: “I have to say you guys are managing this page very well. You find creative and funny ways to get message across. Kudos to your social media rep!” Many other people are also noticing. In the last year, state police have greatly expanded their presence on social media with 19,962 followers on Twitter and 44,674 likes onFacebook. And, the bird stories keep on coming. On Saturday morning, Weerden posted on the state police Facebook page another bird walking on the side of the interstate highway. “Not sure what's going on this week but now we have owls hanging out on the highway, 84 E X31 in Southington. Animal control is en route. Hawk...owl...what's next?”
The Michigan State Police Jackson post is organizing a citizens police academy to familiarize residents with the department's mission, operation and local personnel. Participants will meet from 5:30 to 8 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday from Oct. 10 to Oct. 31 in a classroom at the state police post, 3401 Cooper St. Information will be presented through Power Point and demonstrations by state police employees. An Oct. 31 graduation ceremony will end the academy. The idea is to make people aware of law enforcement's role in the community and state police procedures, and to get to know Jackson troopers, according to a statement.
Eating dinner at Chick-fil-A tonight and witnessed this State Trooper showing his vehicle and the lights and all to these little boys and this family. Very sweet to watch... I'm pretty sure he just became their hero.
The Rhode Island State Police arrested a Providence man on Sunday after obtaining a warrant to search his home and finding what they estimated to be up to $2 million in narcotics. The police charged Raul Ramirez, 32, of 185 Pavilion St., 2nd floor, on multiple drug and weapons charges after seizing 22.5 kilograms of cocaine, 1 kilogram of heroin, a Glock handgun and drug paraphernalia. Ramirez was held without bail and scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday in District Court, Providence. The drug raid was conducted by the Rhode Island State Police High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, which combines the efforts of the State Police and several municipal police departments along with federal agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
A viral video trending on social media has millions of people realizing the horrific consequences of distracted driving just as local law enforcement agencies work to reduce distracted driving on Northern Nevada roads. Most people have been guilty of glancing down at their phones to check a text message or change a song including the people who are in a video that has now been viewed on Facebook over 6.4 million times in just under a week. It tells the tragic story of a woman who experienced the unthinkable because of a distracted driver. "An 18 wheeler swerved and hit my family's car. The resulting collision killed both of my parents. I spent two months in the hospital fighting for my own life,” said Jacy Good. She was permanently injured in a crash because of a distracted driver in Pennsylvania in 2008. The video is part of a YouTube reality show series sponsored by AT&T and their "It Can Wait" campaign. It's primarily aimed at young drivers who according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report the highest level of phone involvement in-crash or near-crash incidences. The Washoe County Sheriff's Office recently focused on distracted driver violations over a three week period and issued just under 200 cell phone citations during that time. This being indicative that distracted driving is an issue in Northern Nevada. "It only takes a moment and I mean only a brief moment of distraction to lead to a tragedy," said Bob Harmon, Public Information Officer for the Washoe County Sheriff's Office. AAA recommends drivers put their cell phone inside a compartment and on silent mode to lessen temptation to reach for it.
"Your gift will further my education and allow me to follow in the footsteps of family members before me. My grandfather, Captain Joe F. Dixon (retired), served Florida Highway Patrol for 39 years and my dad, Major Jeffrey S. Dixon, has been on the patrol for the past 25 years. My family has been in FHP for several decades and someday I hope to join the ranks of the patrol and pursue a career in law enforcement.