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...
An escaped "unicorn" gave authorities a run for their money on Wednesday. Sandra Boos -- and the California Highway Patrol -- spent more than three hours chasing her runaway pony, who was outfitted with a unicorn horn, through orchards and roads in California, but she says that isn’t even the wildest part of the story. Boos says what stopped her in her tracks was the reaction of some bystanders. “I heard crazy things like, ‘They are real!’ and ‘I didn’t know unicorns were real,’” Boos, of Fresno, California, told ABC News. “I would just stop running and say, ‘They’re not.’” Boos, a professional photographer, was doing a photo shoot with her white pony, Juliet, near the Madera Ranchos, California, ranch where Juliet is boarded when the pony got loose and ran away at around 5 p.m. Juliet was wearing, as she often does for photo shoots and birthday parties, a pink halter with a gold unicorn horn attached. “She moonlights as a unicorn, which helps offset the expenses of having a horse,” Boos said, adding that the pony was a gift to her 5-year-old daughter, Tatum. Once loose, Juliet ran through more than five miles of orchards and traffic in rural Madera Ranchos. It was not until California Highway Patrol officials activated one of their helicopters in the search that Juliet was able to be corralled into the fenced-in property of a nearby house. “They tracked her down with infrared lights, then they’d switch to flood lights and we were able to see where she was,” said Boos. “A friend hitched her horse and rode into the orchard in the pitch dark -- wearing a reflective vest -- and she called out to Juliet and she ran right to her,” Boos said. Juliet was “a little tired and cranky” after the chase, but not injured, according to Boos. The first call Boos made after Juliet’s capture was to her husband so he could let Tatum know her pony was okay. “She was absolutely elated but also said that she was a very naughty pony and needed to go in time-out,” Boos said.
In a crowded room of cheering supporters Wednesday afternoon, nobody could care less about the world record than Capt. Ron Arthur, except maybe his 9-year-old daughter, Madi. Whether or not he beat the Guinness World Record for most push-ups in an hour was secondary to the money his feat had raised to send around a dozen children with diabetes to Camp Kno-Koma. The night before Arthur's shot at the record, Madi reminded him of what was truly important in the grand scheme of it all. "She said it best last night: 'The kids are going to camp anyway. Jesus is more happy about that then he is with the push-ups," Arthur said, eyes bloodshot and visibly shaken after his attempt at the Guinness World Record for most push-ups in an hour with 2,505 reps. "That took the pressure off." Initially unsure he could even knock out the 2,221 push-ups required to break the previous record, the 46-year-old West Virginia State Police captain from Winfield made only one promise before he began to the roughly 50 supporters packing Robert's Running Shop in Huntington. "Every day is a gift from God so we owe a perfect effort in honor of God giving us that day," Arthur said. "I promise a perfect effort right here. Whether I'm way ahead and going to break it or way behind and no chance of breaking it, my effort level will not change." Finishing a quick prayer as Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit" bounced from the speakers, Arthur knelt and placed his palms to the floor for those first reps. "Here it is," he said. "Let's see how close we can make it." Working in around 45-second bursts with 10 second rests between intervals, Arthur pounded out 50 push-ups within the first minute. The clock rolled, and Arthur's skin grew red and slick with fatigue, his breaths raspy under stress. Eclipsing the 1,000-rep mark just under 21 minutes, Arthur reassured the room he was hanging in there. "I'm warmed up now," he said to laughs and cheers. At the 30-minute point, Arthur had completed 1,408 push-ups, but his fatigue was more evident. His breaks became longer, sweat began to puddle on the ground under his forehead, and he even swapped his water bottle for a few drinks of Coca-Cola. Through all the cheers, Madi's voice calling "Come on, Daddy! You're awesome!" was the only one he really heard. "She knew when to time it," Arthur said. "Oh my gosh, the strength that goes through your veins when that happens." At 51 minutes and 15 seconds, Arthur repped push-up No. 2,221, possibly breaking the record set in 2014 by Carlton Williams in the United Kingdom. He didn't stop. He didn't slow down. Arthur was out to give a perfect effort, win or lose. By the time the clock ran out, his perfect effort totaled 2,505 push-ups. "None of us are perfect; we haven't a need to prove that," Arthur said. "All we can prove is a perfect effort. The only thing I can control is my effort." "Whether Guinness accepts it or not is really insignificant to me." Raising at least $3,600 to send children to Camp Kno-Koma, a summer camp for children with diabetes in the Monongahela National Forest, Arthur's could hug Madi knowing what his perfect effort was worth. "The first 2,221 were to break the record," Arthur said. "Every one after was for her." Diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes herself, Madi said it means the world knowing her father would go to such painful lengths for kids like her to have a happier childhood. "I'm really proud," Madi said. "He never gives up, and he always does everything perfect, whatever he does." Arthur extended his gratitude to his supporters, adding their contributions to the fundraiser meant far more than the push-ups. "We have a great community, and anybody who doesn't believe it needs to come to West Virginia," Arthur said. "Thank God. God bless America." "The push-up record is back in the USA."
Viddie Wallace grew up without knowing her hero. When she was 13 months old, she fell into a bathtub at her Taylor County home. Her mother ran for help, and ran into FHP Trooper John T. Shepard. That was in 1959. Shepard turned her upside down and shook the water out of her lungs. Just before he began mouth-to-mouth, she moved. "She moved, and then she cried, and I cried," recalls Shepard, now 82. Viddie's mother rushed her to the hospital. Time went by after that. Shepard moved away, Wallace grew up. All she had were newspaper clippings, and the stories her parents told her about the trooper that saved her life. She never thought she'd meet him until last year. Turns out, he'd been looking for her. "My daughter got on Facebook at 10 o'clock one night and said mama, mama, I said what...she said they're talking about you on Facebook," said Viddie. "I said who's talking about you on Facebook? The man that saved your life is on facebook...hes talking about you." The two arranged a reunion, thanks to the Taylor County Historical Society. That was last year, but they now see each other as regularly as they can. "He's my angel," she said. "If he hadn't come along when he come along, I wouldn't be here today."
The wreck that closed the southbound lanes of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway on Friday afternoon (Feb. 19) occurred after a pickup truck crashed into a disabled vehicle about five miles from the south shore, bridge General Manager Carlton Dufrechou said. A state trooper who happened to be near the scene rescued two women from the stalled vehicle as it burst into flames. The two women, who were not identified, were taken to East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie with cuts but reportedly no burns. Their conditions were not immediately known. The police officer, identified as Steven Paulus of Troop L, may have saved the women's lives, Dufrechou said. The wreck occurred around 1:30 p.m. after a Dodge Ram pickup truck broke down. It was rear-ended by a Ford F250 pickup, causing the stalled vehicle to catch fire immediately, Dufrechou said. Paulus was traveling nearby and rushed to pull the women from the burning vehicle. "He probably saved their lives," Dufrechou said. The southbound bridge was closed while firefighters extinguished the blaze and workers cleared debris from the span. It reopened at about 2:45 pm.
Things people do in an hour might be cook dinner or watching the news, but how about doing 2,200 pushups? It's a world record and one man with the West Virginia State Police is up for the challenge. Madi Arthur is in fourth grade. She loves softball and playing on the monkey bars after school. She's a pretty normal kid for the most part, except for a few things. "She has to have twelve finger pricks a day. She has an insulin pump with a one inch steel port that gets stuck in and out of her every other day," WVSPT captain Ron Arthur said. Madi is one of the thousands of children in the U.S. living with type one diabetes. Her parents check her levels about every two hours, even as she sleeps at night. "It's not work when it's for someone you love. It's not work and it's not a burden." Now, her family gives back every way they can to causes for childhood diabetes. That's where their love of pushups comes in. Madi's dad is trying to break the pushup world record, all while raising money for kids with diabetes to attend the Greenbrier Youth Camp this summer. "I said well, this may be my next event I think I might be able to break this record," Arthur said. Right now, the world record for pushups is 2,200 in one hour. Arthur will have to do 37 pushups a minute to set a new world record. "The big thing for us is we just want to get as many people here as we can. It's an hour long- to come in and cheer him on," Kathleen Clark, with Robert's Walking and Running, said. Arthur said it's not about getting his name in that record book; his goal is not to be a champion athlete, it's to be a champion dad. Eyewitness News will be at the pushup challenge next week. Donations can be dropped off at Roberts Running and Walking shop on Fourth Avenue in Huntington.
South Carolina Highway Patrol troopers fed and served about 40 homeless people Wednesday at Whosoever Community Church in Florence. The officers said it's their way of giving back to a community that's so deserving. "We come in contact with a lot of people that don't have any place to go on 95, on 501. So, now we partnership with Whosoever Church and House of Hope and we wanted to do this. And I think it's one of the best things for us to do because we could be in that same boat," said Captain Jo Nell, with SC Highway Patrol. "Troopers are very involved in their community whether it's with a church or school, coaching a youth athletic event. We live here. We work here. We have a vested interest in the well-being of the people here. And if we can give back in any way to any group of people, well, that's just helping us build our community, " said Cpl. Sonny Collins, with SC Highway Patrol. Whosoever Community Church doubles as a homeless shelter and provides temporary housing for about 40 people in need of a warm place to stay. Felicia Stafford, 26, makes her home at the shelter for now. "I became homeless really, I say, when I was 18, 19 after I started having my children. My finances weren't stable and I couldn't find work because I didn't have a baby sitter," said Stafford. Cynthia Boan, 53, finds herself in the same situation. She's been staying at the church for three weeks, but has been homeless for the past 12 years. "I've slept outside, behind trash cans, things such as this. Sometimes people would take me in and let me take a shower," said Boan. Both women said they're thankful for the troopers reaching out to them instead of looking down on them. Stafford said, "It's a blessing because not too many officers in different cities gather together to help the homeless people as one. So, it's a pleasure." Collins said they're happy to help others in need. They plan to feed the homeless this year in all six Pee Dee counties, as well as Horry and Georgetown counties. "At the end of the day, we need everything to be better and I hope today made it better for these people today. And we're gonna continue to move this forward, and to help people in other areas of our coverage in the Pee Dee and Grand Strand. And if we can keep doing that I know it's gonna have a positive impact on the community," said Collins.
Connecticut State Police K-9 Arek and K-9 Union are now suited up to take on the bad guys. They just got their bullet and stab protective vests thanks to a charitable donation from Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. K9 Arek is a four-year-old German Shepard trained in all patrol functions including tracking, building searches, evidence recovery, apprehension, obstacles, obedience and narcotics detection. K9 Arek works at Troop H in Hartford along with Troop First Class Matthew Herz. K-9 Arek’s vest was sponsored by a fundraiser hosted by Hairy Barker’s K9 Activity Center of Deep River. His vest has been embroidered with the sentiment “Safety from Hairy Barker’s K9 Activity Center.” K9 Union is a three-year–old German shepherd who is trained in all patrol functions including tracking, building searches, evidence recovery, apprehension, obstacles, obedience and narcotics detection. K9 Union works at Troop A in Southbury alongside Trooper Christopher Porrini. Union’s vest is sponsored by Beth DeGroat of Stafford. His vest has been embroidered with the sentiment “In Dogs We Trust, the DeGroat Family.” The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $1,050. Each vest has a value between $1,795 – $2,234, a five-year warranty, and an average weight of 4-5 lbs. There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States
Alaska State Troopers helped rescue a hypothermic Chatanikaman from the side of the Steese Highway on Monday night. Troopers responded to a report of an intoxicated pedestrian sitting alone along the highway, according to a dispatch Tuesday. The man was reportedly shivering in wet clothing near Mile 48. AST located 40-year-old Samuel Foster when they arrived at the scene. They say he was in a state of hypothermia and severely frostbitten, and wasn't able to move on his own. The responding trooper carried him to the patrol car, and transferred Foster to an ambulance. Medics say his temperature was recorded at 89 degrees.
For most speeding vehicles, Jeremy Freeman's reaction as a state trooper is routine. Siren. Flashing lights. A stop, and then a conversation. Sept. 15 was different. A life was at stake, and fortunately for the driver of the speeding vehicle and his wife, Freeman was the trooper who saw him. On that day, he was on patrol on N.C. 87 East and observed a red Ford pickup driving well over the posted speed limit. Freeman proceeded toward enforcement action, turning on his siren and flashing lights. The driver yielded and pulled over to the side of the road, jumped out of his vehicle and began shouting, "My wife, my wife," Freeman said. After quickly surveying the situation, the trooper realized the man had been speeding toward a hospital. "I got to the passenger door of the vehicle, and I quickly realized that the man's wife was not responsive," Freeman said. "The husband and I lifted her up, placing her in the truck bed of his vehicle. I ran to my trunk to retrieve my patrol issued medical kit and radioed communications for an ambulance on location." Freeman is one of just three troopers out of Bladen County with a background in emergency medical services. "From there, I quickly checked her pulse and respiration, noticing that she had a pulse, but was not breathing," Freeman said. "I attempted ventilation with my bag-valve mask, but no air was moving through. First thing that popped into my mind was that her tongue must be at the back of her throat. So, I grabbed my oropharyngeal airway device, inserted it sideways, twisted it at a 90-degree turn, which moved her tongue, allowing air to enter into her lungs. I then continued using the bag-valve mask, watching her chest rise and fall." Shortly after, the husband told Freeman that the victim was under the care of a physician, and prescribed morphine. With this new knowledge and his background as an EMT, Freeman asked if she was also prescribed naloxone, an antidote for emergency situations. The husband, a nurse himself, remembered they did have some in the car. Freeman assisted the husband with the auto-injection of naloxone and continued performing ventilation on the woman. By the time the EMS arrived, the woman was breathing on her own and beginning to talk. For his efforts, Freeman's efforts earned him the Highway Patrol Samaritan Award. It's awarded for going beyond the call of duty. Col. Bill Grey, commander of the State Highway Patrol, and Frank L. Perry, secretary of the Department of Public Safety, presented Freeman's award and several others in a special ceremony recently. The awards given included the State Highway Patrol Meritorious Service Award and the Appreciation Award in addition to the Samaritan Award. "The men and women honored here today have demonstrated exceptional dedication to the citizens of North Carolina," Grey said during the ceremony. "I am proud to work with employees that display such a willingness to serve." "The sacrifices displayed by the sworn and civilian members of the State Highway Patrol serve as outstanding examples of the unwavering service provided by state employees," Perry said. Freeman is from Lumberton. He began his career in service as an EMT Basic in Robeson County, spending his free time as a volunteer firefighter at Allenton Fire Department. After a few years of service as an EMT, Freeman decided to continue to serve in a different capacity, pursuing a career as a state trooper. In October of 2013, Freeman graduated from Patrol School and began his work in Troop B, District 5 of Bladen County. "My mindset, the mindset of every trooper, is to protect and preserve everything that I can," Freeman said. "Sustaining life is our job."
When Missouri Highway Patrol trooper Jim Thuss witnessed a fiery crash last week, he knew he had to get the driver out quickly. “I’ve worked enough crashes to know that if there’s fire already, the whole vehicle eventually will go up,” Thuss recalled Wednesday. “I just hoped I could get her out of there in time. People are calling him a hero and a lifesaver after he pulled 60-year-old Becky Crawford of Belton from her 2015 Honda Civic right before flames engulfed her car on Feb. 2. The dramatic rescue was caught on the dashboard camera of Thuss’ patrol car. The Missouri Highway Patrol released the video this week. “There is no doubt in my mind that he saved that woman’s life,” said Sgt. Bill Lowe, a spokesman for the patrol’s Troop A. “She was not in a position to get out of the vehicle, and without his quick thinking and quick actions she would have been more seriously injured or possibly killed.” The morning of the crash, Thuss, a 19-year patrol veteran assigned to Cass County, was headed north on Missouri D just north of Missouri 58 near Belton when he saw a 2002 Cadillac DeVille traveling 68 mph in a 50 mph zone. “I turned my lights on to initiate a traffic stop, and when I turned around I could tell he was really moving along at that time,” Thuss said. “I checked his speed again at 101.” As the Cadillac approached the intersection at Missouri 58, other traffic had stopped at a red light. The Cadillac went around vehicles in the turn lane, ran the red light and smashed into Crawford’s car. “It was a pretty spectacular impact,” Thuss said. “There was an instant fireball towards the back of the vehicle and a big plume of smoke after that. There was the aftermath of the crash of some vehicle parts in the air with the smoke.” When he pulled up, he could see fire along the driver’s side of Crawford’s car. “I didn’t bother trying the driver’s side because of the impact being there and then also the fire. I thought there would be a better opportunity to go through the passenger side,” Thuss said. “I ran around the front of the car and the passenger door opened up easily, luckily.” Thuss climbed inside and found Crawford stunned and moaning. “I got her out of her seat belt and pulled her across the console and out of the vehicle and eventually up the hill,” Thuss said. An off-duty Johnson County deputy sheriff helped Thuss carry Crawford away from the car. Ron Crawford said Wednesday that his wife is doing well for someone who has gone through what she has. She suffered serious injuries in the crash. He said she expected to be released from the hospital Wednesday and transferred to a rehabilitation facility. Crawford said he has thanked Thuss for his quick actions. It took a lot of courage for Thuss to do that, Crawford said. “I thanked him because he risked his life to save the life of my wife,” he said. “There’s no question in my mind that if he had not taken that action, she would not be with us today. He had only seconds to rescue her and he did. He’s a genuine hero.” Crawford said he believes there are three parts to this story — the selfish actions by the Cadillac driver, the selfless and heroic actions of Thuss, and divine intervention that protected his wife from worse injuries. The driver who caused the crash fled. He was seen ripping a plastic bag open, and a white substance flew out. Belton police arrested a suspect a short time later. As the man was being loaded into an ambulance, a trooper noticed a strong smell of marijuana, according to court documents. Troopers also found methamphetamine and will test blood on the bag to see if it matches the driver, according to court documents. The Cass County prosecutor charged Benjamin W. Clark, 23, of Belton, with resisting arrest and leaving the scene of a accident, according to court documents. Thuss said he doesn’t want to sound cavalier when he says that all he was doing was his job. Any other trooper he works with would have done the same thing under the same circumstances, he said. “I did what I was supposed to do,” Thuss said. “I was there because of the individual I was trying to stop. Honestly, I didn’t really think much about it. I just knew I had to get her out of the vehicle before it went up.”
A State Trooper who stopped a vehicle for speeding got the surprise of a lifetime when he discovered why the couple was speeding. Danny and Shawna Lowe admit, they were speeding on U.S. 72 Sunday morning. Shawna had not only gone into labor, she was close to delivering the baby. "I got out and went to [Trooper Kesler] and I said, I'm sorry I know I was speeding but my wife's about to give birth," Danny Lowe said. "I don't think he believed me." That changed when Shawna Lowe screamed. "And she said pull my pants down, he's coming. I saw his head so I grabbed his head and he started coming and I grabbed his neck and just guided him right on out," Danny says. He says Trooper Kesler was helpful every step of the way; he brought towels to wrap up baby Barrett from the 29 degree temperatures and called an ambulance to get mom and baby to the hospital. "Without hesitation, Trooper Kesler quickly acted and assisted in the delivery of the baby," said Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier. When the ambulance arrived, Kesler coordinated directions between the family doctor via cell phone and EMS. The mother and baby then were transported to Athens Hospital, while Trooper Kesler accompanied Danny to the hospital to be with his family. Kesler then went to a local grocery store and purchased flowers, cupcakes, and a newborn 'starter kit to bring to bring to the new parents. "I got to witness a 6 pound 10 ounce baby being born and it made my day worth coming to work," says Kesler. This moment will likely create a permanent bond between the newly expanded family and their savior in blue. "It's a newly acquired friendship. We're going to know each other a long time," says Kesler. Danny says it was a blessing the trooper stopped them "because if he didn't, we would have been 2 more blocks and she would have to do it on her own. Or we would have wrecked... by him stopping me and doing his job he probably saved our lives." Secretary Collier said, "Trooper Kesler's actions today exemplify the mission of the Alabama State Troopers -- to serve and protect. I want to personally commend Trooper Kesler for his swift actions and going above and beyond the call of duty." Going above and beyond wasn't lost on the Lowe family. "I've been fighting to get his middle name changed to Michael," jokes Danny as his wife shoots him a look. Whether that happens or not, there's no doubt Trooper Kesler will be a permanent part of little Barrett's life. "He doesn't have to do that kind of stuff, it came from his heart," says the proud father. Danny Lowe was issued a speed warning by Trooper Kesler.
Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper Justin Hansen recently returned to the job he loves."It feels great to be back on the road, it's been a very long and trying journey," said Hansen.After losing part of his leg two years ago when he was hit by a vehicle while working. "All the work I put in to become a trooper was nothing compared to the work I've had to do to get back doing what I love," Hansen explained. In January 2014, he was responding to a crash when he was getting traffic cones from the back of his car when he was hit and pinned between the two vehicles. "When I think back to that day, I just think about how that day forever changed how I live myself," Hansen said.As a result, part of his right leg was amputated, and his left leg had several fractures. "The hardest thing about it was learning how to walk on the right prosthetic limb with a left broken leg," said Hansen. "It was very hard to deal with both injuries at the same time." Hansen said one reason it was important to get back to work was to show his kids you can overcome adversity and challenges that are thrown your way."When they have challenges in life that they can look at me as an example how to overcome diversity, and problems," said Hansen. He explained since being back on the road, his injuries haven't slowed him down. "A lot of times when I've come into stuff on duty, or off duty, and I need to react quickly I almost forget I have the prosthetic leg and I just proceed normally," Hansen said. He added although the road to recovery wasn't always been easy, it has been worth it. "This is what I love to do, it's the career I enjoy, I have great passion about," said Hansen.
A California Highway Patrol officer was caught on video pulling a man from the edge of a bridge. A terrifying scene on a highway overpass above a busy street in north Fresno. The chilling moment captured on a driver’s cell phone video: a man walking right on the edge of the bridge, posing a danger to himself and the drivers below. Then, CHP motorcycle officer Christopher Swanberg arrived on scene. “It looked like he might fall over. I was very concerned he was just going to fall over because he was so unbalanced,” said officer Swanberg. Utilizing his training, Swanberg talks to the man as he tries to get closer. Then, standing on the edge, or k-rail, the man slips and officer Swanberg moved in for the rescue. “I don’t think I had time to think about it. I just reacted to it,” said Swanberg. Officer Swanberg struggles with the man who makes a break for the edge of the overpass. Swanberg said: “there was maybe a couple seconds while we were on the k-rail where I was actually looking over the side, where it was pretty nerve racking.” That’s when Daniel Martinez and his friend George pulled over in their work truck. “We were driving, and I had seen he was wrestling with this guy, kind of wrestling with him, so I slowed down,” said Martinez. “I remember looking back and both the driver and the passenger had this look of, ‘can I help?’ I was like ‘yeah, come help me,’” said Swanberg. With the help of the men in orange jumpsuits, the man was taken into custody. Martinez says the only reason they were able to help is because he missed an exit. “I would’ve passed all that up. So I just think we were there at the right time. I think it was supposed to happen,” said Martinez. Thankful for the help, this CHP officer says answering a call like this was a first. Swanberg said: “we’ve had pedestrians on the freeway many times here in Fresno, but I’ve never had one where I had to grab and go to the k-rail with and look over the side.”
At Midway Elementary, they are missing 11-year-old Angel. Classmates call him a great friend and hardworking student. He already knows he wants to be a police officer one day. But what he is dealing with right now is a heart condition. Midway Elementary Principal Rebekah Kim says Angel had surgery last week. "Just the fact that this is his second heart transplant shows how determined he is and what a fighter he is," said Kim. He's been out of school for nearly two months, receiving care at Seattle Children's Hospital. Wednesday afternoon, Principal Kim brought two special visitors: Sergeant Julie Judson and Trooper Scott Eng with the Washington State Patrol. "We heard a rumor that you want to be a police officer. Is that true? We have come to recruit you," said Sgt. Judson as she greeted Angel. "We brought some Washington State Patrol swag for you," added Trooper Eng. The presents produced a much needed smile across Angel's face. Angel and his two siblings have cardiomyopathy. Angel's mother has been by his side at the hospital everyday. There is anonline fundraising effortto help Angel's family
The hockey mom from Philadelphia hit 82 mph and never saw the silver patrol car in the median of the Ohio Turnpike. When she finally realized her fate and hit the brakes, Trooper John Williams already had pulled out. He hit the accelerator to catch up to her and switched on his blue flashing lights. Minutes later, the woman appeared to seethe as Williams, ever polite, handed her the speeding ticket and wished her a safe trip. The officer went on to make 11 stops in the next eight hours. For Williams, 39, that has become a typical day: He has written more tickets than any trooper in Ohio from 2010 through 2014, the most recent years available, according to a Plain Dealer analysis of Ohio State Highway Patrol tickets. He averaged nearly 2,000 tickets a year during that span. But Williams is far from a rigid, citation-writing machine. His empathy for drivers is matched by his attention to detail and concern for roadway safety. He has doled out warnings, calmed agitated motorists and offered directions to the misguided. In short, he does far more than send speeding drivers to court. Williams and a handful of troopers work from a turnpike post in Milan, near Sandusky. They cover 80 miles from Lorain County to Ottawa County. In the summer, with Cedar Point and the Lake Erie islands attracting visitors, the turnpike is the busiest roadway in the state. It also is the most heavily ticketed, the analysis shows. Troopers can patrol all of Ohio's roads, but they focus on state routes, the interstates and the turnpike. Unlike Williams and his colleagues who patrol the turnpike, most troopers are scattered across the state, working at county posts and running between traffic stops and crashes. They also help local authorities with investigations. Williams has done some of that, too. He is a 15-year veteran who has investigated accidents, arrested drunken drivers and found his share of illegal drugs in drivers' cars. But he has focused on speeding drivers on the turnpike. "I don't pay attention to (statistics),'' Williams said."I come out here to enforce traffic laws and to, hopefully, change drivers' behaviors. Excessive speed is a huge problem. "For me to work the interstate and not write tickets would be wrong. My chances to enforce traffic laws here are much greater than someone who is working in a county post.'' And that leads to a question he hears often: Do troopers face a quota? "There has never been a quota,'' Williams said. State troopers' salaries are paid with driver registration fees and taxes, not fines from tickets. The patrol has 1,600 officers, though many, such as crash reconstructionists, investigators and command officials, do not patrol roads. In the five-year span that the newspaper examined, troopers wrote an average of 540,000 tickets a year. At 6:17 a.m. on the coldest day of January, Williams began his day by checking and calibrating his TruSpeed laser gun. When it failed him, he grabbed a new one. He then spent just as much time, nearly 15 minutes, checking the new device. With a sugar-free Monster energy drink and the laser gun at his side, Williams wheeled his patrol car onto the turnpike for his day shift. He initially sought broken-down cars and trucks in the 3-degree weather. Finding none, he stopped in a median and pointed the laser gun at oncoming traffic and focused its beam on the front license plates of cars and trucks. Within minutes, he noticed a white Honda. A woman headed to work passed a semitrailer going 82 mph. The turnpike's speed limit is 70 mph. Williams wrote and printed out the ticket on a patrol-issued laptop, which troopers have in their Chargers. He thanked her for her time and urged her to be safe. She seemed too flustered to notice. Within the hour, he pulled over the Philadelphia mother in an SUV that had hockey team stickers on its back windows. He also stopped a father driving his daughter to college. Later, he stopped an older woman from Illinois going 84 mph. She was more concerned with Williams' health than her ticket. She feared he would get sick because he was working in such cold temperatures. The woman appeared to drive away somewhat upbeat, though still worried. "When I went to the (state patrol) academy, instructors said we would get 'thank yous' after traffic stops,'' Williams said. "I thought, 'What? You just gave a person a ticket and then he or she thanks you?' But it happens a lot.'' Others aren't as cheerful. Williams said he stopped a car recently with a set of parents and two children. The children, in the back seats, ripped Williams for what he did, while the parents sat silent. "I couldn't believe it,'' he said. "But you can't take anything personally.'' Later in the day, he stopped his patrol car along a westbound emergency lane and looked at a memorial built to honor Robert Perez, a fellow trooper at the Milan post who was killed in 2000. Perez's cruiser was rammed from behind as he sat in it on the berm finishing paperwork after a stop. He talked about Perez and the risks troopers face. The most dangerous involved approaching cars. On this day, as he does regularly, Williams headed to the passenger side of cars and trucks to avoid passing traffic. He then checked the number of people inside and what they were doing. "I've seen too many bad movies,'' he said. "We don't know whom we're stopping. We don't know what's going on in the car. So we have to be careful.'' Between stops, he bought a sandwich at a Subway shop off the turnpike and stopped briefly at the Milan post. He ate the sandwich and munched potato chips among colleagues while talking proudly about his two young children. Within minutes, he was back on the road. His stops included several drivers who gave him a litany of excuses. They said there is a lack of posted signs about speed limits, that they were unfamiliar with Ohio laws, that they weren't paying attention to how fast they were driving. "I've heard them all,'' he said. As the temperature crawled above 5 degrees, Williams struggled to stay warm. A young woman whom he ticketed for going 82 mph wanted to know where she could buy some water. The bottles that she had in the trunk were frozen. He answered several questions about the ticket, the roadway and area restaurants. He shivered as he jumped back in his patrol car. "Is it summer yet?'' he said. He was looking for speeding cars before he finished the question.
"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.