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Throughout her life, Sayeh Rivazfar says, people have told her she's a survivor. The 35-year-old state trooper thinks "fighter" is a more accurate adjective to describe her refusal to give up. Throughout her childhood Rivazfar was struck with overwhelming challenges. While a little girl living in Pensacola, FL, she had been abused and neglected at the hands of a mother who pursued drug- and alcohol-fueled partying, leaving Rivazfar and her siblings behind. She would also endure sexual abuse at the hands of a man who threatened her, demanding secrecy for the crime he committed. The darkest storm came when she was 8 years old. Rivazfar was kidnapped and raped repeatedly by the same man who molested her a year before. This took place moments before he slit her throat, narrowly missing her jugular vein. The man then murdered Rivazfar's younger sister, Sara, in her presence. It was a reality to be faced with, but it wasn't enough to keep Rivazfar from pursuing the life she knows she was meant to live. For her, the brutality she experienced in the vulnerable years of her childhood served as fuel to meet her goals. On Tuesday afternoon, the trooper conveyed the battle she won to approximately 30 students of Brian Amphlett's criminal justice class at the Finger Lakes Technical and Career Center. "There will be times in your life that it feels like you can't get above it," Rivazfar told students. "But I'm telling you, I surrounded myself with positive people and positive things and I fought. I kept fighting to push through and move on. I'm telling you what, it has not failed me yet." As she did last year at FLTCC, and as she has done repeatedly on a variety of stages since the horrific incident occurred, Rivazfar told her story to students. She included the majority of the brutal details along the way. Rivazfar lived with her mother, Patricia Pafford, and her father, Ahmad Rivazfar, in Pensacola. When she was 5, her parents got a divorce. Despite doubts about her ability to support her children, Pafford was granted custody of Rivazfar and her two younger siblings, Sara and Arash. The children would bounce from house to house with their mother as she regularly consumed drugs and alcohol amid run-ins with the law. The lifestyle came to a head the night of Sept. 21, 1988, which was a school night, Rivazfar vividly recalls. Her mom had gone out to party. Shortly after falling asleep in the bedroom she shared with her 6-year-old sister Sara, Rivazfar remembers being awakened and carried out of the home. When she looked up she immediately recognized the man carrying her as a boyfriend from her mother's past — Ray Wike. It was a year prior that Wike had molested her, Rivazfar explained to students. It was a dark fact that Wike threatened her into keeping a secret. "He told me that if I told anybody, he would kill my family," Rivazfar said. After he placed her in his beat-up old green Dodge, Wike went back inside Rivazfar's home, reemerging with her little sister. It was later determined that after finding out that the two little girls were alone at their home, Wike used a crowbar to pry the back door of the residence off its hinges at some point between midnight and 1 a.m. Sept. 22, 1988. After loading the girls into his car, he drove to a secluded area, pulled off onto a dirt road and parked the car. After he bound Sara's hands and feet, the fear between them became palpable, Rivazfar said, and they began to cry. "Ray told us if we are good, he'll bring us to our mother," she recalls. "He told us she's right up the road." Wike then raped Rivazfar "until daybreak," she said. When that terror ended, Wike moved on, having Rivazfar walk into a portion of the woods as he carried her 6-year-old sister behind her. Around 150 feet off the dirt road, he stopped. "He says, 'Say your prayers,'" Rivazfar said. "And as he says that, he takes out this large black-handled knife and he begins to cut my throat." She recalls the blood and then dropping to the ground, aware that if Wike saw her move, he would finish killing her. Wike then turned to Sara, who Rivazfar heard begin to panic. Rivazfar looked down as she told students that she could feel the vibration on the ground from her sister, who was kicking at the earth at Wike turned the knife on her. "And then all the sudden, she doesn't make any more sounds," Rivazfar said. When done, Wike jumped over Rivazfar's motionless body. She heard the rustling of the brush as Wike retreated from the scene, hopped into his car and drove away. Rivazfar would stand up and approach her lifeless sister, who also had her throat slashed. "I looked at her," Rivazfar said. "I knew she was not going to answer, but I still called her name over and over again." According to court documents from Wike's murder appeal process filed in Florida Supreme Court, at approximately 6:30 a.m. Sept. 22, 1988, a couple saw an 8-year-old Rivazfar longside a rural road in Santa Rosa County. The little girl was waving one hand and held the other to her bloodied throat. The couple picked her up and drove her to a nearby store to call for help. During the drive, she told them that a man named Ray had taken them from their home and killed her 6-year-old sister. On Tuesday, Rivazfar played for students the audio clip of the call the woman who picked her up that morning made to 911. Rivazfar also played for students a clip of the 911 dispatcher calling Wike hours after the murder. Thanks to the information Rivazfar provided to Santa Rosa County sheriff's deputies, Wike was located along with his green car and his bloodied clothing at his parents' house. The dispatcher woke Wike up when she called to tell him that his house is surrounded by law enforcement and he needed to come out with his hands up. "Is this a joke?" you can hear a drowsy and baffled Wike ask the dispatcher. As for Rivazfar, a doctor told her that the tip of the knife barely missed her jugular — which, if punctured, would have ended her life. "The doctor said I survived by the grace of God," Rivazfar told students. "I don't consider myself to be a religious person, but I am spiritual and I believe that there is a higher power and there are reasons for things that happen. I believe that I was supposed to survive. I was supposed to make sure that this monster paid for what he did to my sister and I, that he was not able to do this to anyone else." It was a mission that was fulfilled. With the help of Rivazfar's testimony at trial, Wike, who was 30 at the time of the offenses, was convicted of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping, sexual battery and attempted murder. Wike was sentenced to death. With appeals, he evaded execution for 15 years, but in 2004 he died of cancer while behind bars. Ahmad Rivazfar, who lived in Greece, was granted custody of Rivazfar and Arash, considering Pafford's displayed inability to provide a stable environment for her children. Pafford would fight to get her children back, but through the support of politicians, the media and the masses, Rivazfar and her brother stayed with their father, who she describes as "a rock." With her experiences in place, Rivazfar passed the New York State Police exam in 2001. She would then marry in 2010. Next month, her son Noah will turn 4 years old. "It a very happy life now for sure," Rivazfar said. Rivazfar provided a series of important messages to students on Tuesday: the importance of family, surrounding yourself with positive people, not ignoring something suspicious or someone in trouble. Underlying it all: Rivazfar was a victim, but she survived. "The best advice I can give you is don't give up, especially when times are tough," Rivazfar said. "When you're provided a challenge … it's not there to beat you, you're there to beat it. So keep fighting, keep pushing through the tough times and the good will come." Canandaigua Academy student Tristan Jiroux expressed gratitude for Rivazfar's appearance after Tuesday's presentation. "It was a sad story, but the message is important," he said. "It's nice to know that you can overcome it."
Story Courtesy of Irondequoit Post
The University of Wyoming’s University Store recently donated 100 teddy bears to the Wyoming Highway Patrol Association through the customer-supported Share a Bear program. The bears will be placed in patrol vehicles to help comfort children who have experienced traumatic events. University Store Director Misty Eaton says the program began back in November and has seen great support from customers and the community. “The program allows customers to purchase a plush teddy bear at checkout and donate it back to the store,” says Eaton. “The University Store then collects all the bears and donates them to the Wyoming Highway Patrol Association.” “These bears provide a lot of comfort to those children in one of the most difficult times in their lives,” says Wyoming Highway Patrol supervisor Lt. Michael Simmons. Eaton says that the University Store plans to bring the program back during the next holiday season. “At this point in time we have a few bears left,” says Eaton. “We were really excited to partner with the Highway Patrol Association, and hope to continue the partnership.”
For a little boy enduring grueling chemotherapy sessions, state troopers decided to brighten the family’s holiday with a $500 donation. Since he was diagnosed with Burkitt leukemia in July, 5 year-old Cohen Smith has endured six chemotherapy rounds at Mayo Clinic in Rochester to battle the aggressive cancer. When his story came to the attention of troopers at Mason City’s post, their union unanimously voted to give their yearly $500 charitable donation to his parents for medical and travel expenses. Two troopers surprised the family with the check at their home on Thursday morning. With a bald head, clad in a red GAP sweatshirt and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pajama pants, Cohen was subdued by the unexpected attention, clinging to his mother as cautiously gave one trooper a high-five. “It breaks your heart,” said Trooper Keith Duenow afterwards. He hoped “maybe it makes a little bit of an impact.” When Cohen started complaining of stomach pains and flu symptoms for about a week last summer, his parents Steve and Brenda Smith took him to Iowa Specialty Hospital in Belmond, thinking he had a gastrointestinal issue. Doctors told them he might have a twisted intestine. None of their four older children have had any serious health problems. The cancer diagnosis at Mayo was a shock. “Some days are good and some days are bad,” Brenda said of her son. “He very rarely complains about not feeling good.” Since July, she has given up her daycare business until at least the spring to take him up to Rochester every two weeks for appointments. When he goes through chemo, they are typically in Minnesota for three to five days at a time. In September, daycare customers and church friends held a benefit that raised several thousand dollars for his cancer costs, she said. Cohen is currently in remission, but has two chemotherapy rounds left, and will subsequently be checked for cancer every year. “We just left it to God, it was really out of our hands,” Brenda said. As the two troopers left her son with a patrol hat, badge sticker, temporary tattoos, coloring books, and stickers, she said he was normally an outgoing child who likes to play outside and loves watching “Paw Patrol” cartoons on television. He wants to be a firefighter or police officer when he gets older. She couldn’t guess how much the final bill will be for his cancer treatments, she said. The $500 check the troopers left will probably be used for gas expenses to Rochester. Dealing with pediatric cancer has reset some of their priorities, now more grateful for the time they spend together, especially at Christmas. “The kids could have had nothing under the tree and all of us being together would have been plenty,” she said. And, enjoy every moment: “Life is just too short to do anything less than that,” she said.
Story Courtesy of Globe Gazette
A little boy got a special gift this Christmas from an Ohio State Trooper who made a big impact on him earlier in the year.When two-and-a-half year old Jibsen’s grandmother, Linda Miller, was pulled over by trooper Adrian Wilson several months ago, the little boy was scaredbut the trooper managed to comfort him. Wilson made such an impact on the child that the little boy dressed as a trooper for Halloween. The boy’s mom, Natalie Miller-Stulley, told INSIDE EDITION: “This little act of kindness before he allowed his grandmother to pull away was much appreciated. Taking a few extra seconds to make this little guy more comfortable in an uncomfortable situation certainly has allowed Jibsen to see the positive side of law enforcement rather than only a negative.” She added: “Unfortunately, too often here lately law enforcement is getting negative media attention so I was just hoping to share some positive light here locally for these men and women.” According to Natalie, her mother wrote a letter to commend Trooper Wilson for his kindness. Just in time for the holidays, Trooper Wilson stopped by the boy’s house to deliver a special gift – his own police car. “When I told Jibsen that Trooper Wilson would be visiting, he immediately wanted to put his costume on for his visit. We appreciate Trooper Adrian Wilson going above and beyond as do we appreciate all the other men and women in law enforcement,” Natalie said.
Story courtesy of Inside Edition.
As an Indiana State Trooper, Nicole Cheeks has seen it all. “Sometimes our jobs, it gets nasty,”said Cheeks,“But for the most part we’re dealing with 90 percent of good citizens out here. We prepare for the worst, but we usually end up getting the best.” Cheeks often patrols different parts of Terre Haute. It was in one of her neighborhoods that she met Jennifer Diekhoff and her children. “They’re good kids, they’re smart kids,” said Cheeks, “They introduced me to some things in Terre Haute that I wasn’t aware of.” One of those things being Shop With a Cop at Meijer, which happened in the middle of December. Cheeks says Diekhoff’s kids, Brandon and Hailee, told her about the event, asking her if she could be their shopping partner. However, the day of the event, the children were unable to attend. “They were really bummed out about not being able to go,” said Cheeks. Cheeks and her husband went back to Meijer following the event, picking up toys and toiletries. On Christmas Day, Cheeks delivered the load of gifts personally to the Diekhoff household. “I figured I could give back to them just for helping me,” said Cheeks. Watching the smiles of her children, Diekhoff says this Christmas is a dream come true. “It’s a blessing,” said Diekhoff, “I can’t even express how grateful we are, you know, it’s a Christmas miracle.” For 8-year-old Brandon Diekhoff and his 11-year-old sister, Hailee, it’s an experience they will always remember. When asked what they were going to say to Trooper Cheeks, in unison they said, “Thank you! You’re amazing.” In the midst of all the excitement and gifts, Cheeks hopes the Diekhoffs will unwrap the life lesson of paying it forward to others and helping those in need. “When those kids get older, they’ll do the same thing,” said Cheeks, “They’ll remember when ‘I wasn’t able to do something, someone stepped in and helped us out’ and they’ll continue to do that.”
The holiday season, for most, is a time of joy spent with friends and family, but for some it comes with a painful reminder of lost loved ones. In 2012, State Trooper Marshall Lee Bailey was shot and killed in the line of duty, leaving a family with a gaping hole. And for his seven year old son, Wyatt Bailey, the pain of losing his father hits hard during the Christmas season. So when he asked his mom if he could drive an Army truck for Christmas, the West Virginia National Guard was all too happy to help. When a child has a special wish for Christmas most parents will do whatever they can to make sure that wish comes true. For Wyatt’s mother, Tammy Bailey, her son was no exception. Wyatt's father was a state trooper who was shot and killed in 2012, and for Wyatt not having is father for Christmas has been extremely difficult. "We get a new ornament for his father every year and hang it up on the tree, he got really sad and stopped decorating and we talked about his dad and then later we started talking about what he wanted for Christmas and he started talking about the Army tanks,” Tammy Bailey said.Wyatt’s wish this year was to be in the Army and ride an Army truck; a unique wish that his mother was determined to make happen. "I had posted on Facebook if anybody knew how to make this happen, and a friend of mine Stefany Drake and her husband Jason got it started,” Tammy said.After a few connections, the West Virginia National Guard knew exactly how to make Wyatt’s dream a reality. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin invited Wyatt and his 9-year-old sister, Lauren, to the Capitol to give them a special title. "We made him the national adjunct general of the day and we presented him and Lauren with honorary Mountaineer Brigadier so they are now officially ambassadors for the National Guard every day,” Major General Jim Hoyer said.Wyatt was given an Army uniform and got to ride in military vehicles to the Charleston armory. For the rest of the day, Wyatt was put in charge of the soldiers and airman as they toured the base. For Wyatt and his family, this was the perfect Christmas gift. "I was happy and I was proud." General Hoyer plans to invite Wyatt and his entire school class to tour the base in the near future. Wyatt said his favorite memory from the day was getting to ride in the Humvee.
Massachusetts State Trooper Dan Mather was driving on the interstate in Milford, Massachusetts when he saw a child’s teddy bear fly out the window of a car driving ahead of him and into traffic. What he did next made the day of a very happy little girl! Trooper Mather was able to retrieve the bear from the lane and return it to its rightful owner, Emma, and her parents, Scott and Beth. Emma was so thrilled that her mom sent a grateful note to Trooper Mather. She explained, “Emma has loved her polar bear for some time. He doesn't leave her sight. Polar goes to school with her, on vacation and everywhere Emma goes. They're inseparable and [he] gives Emma comfort.” State police said that the sweet card made Trooper Mather’s day.
“Usually, when I come up on somebody, it’s the worst moment of their day,” Trooper D.B. “David” Whited of the Princeton Detachment, West Virginia State Police said. “Not today.” Before he left on his patrol Thursday night, Sgt. A.P. Christian of the Princeton Detachment gave him four, crisp $100 bills to distribute at Secret Santa stops. Christian ordered
Whited to find people who he thought could really use $100. After about 90 minutes on the detail, Whited was conducting his fourth traffic stop on an older model green Saturn on Maple Acres Road at the entrance to the Maple View Church of Christ.As he approached the driver, Whited used proper police procedures. The exchange between Whited and Michelle Thompson was certainly not a bad exchange.“She was the nicest person I ever stopped,” Whited said. Thompson handed Whited her proof of insurance without him even asking. As he brought her license and vehicle registration back into his cruiser,he was excited by how nice Thompson was. He returned to the vehicle and handed Thompson her license and registration back. She immediately came up out of her seat. “I am truly blessed,” she said as her two children looked on in amazement. “Oh dear God! Thank you Jesus!” She threw her arms around Whited’s neck and hugged him for dear life. She said that her home was recently broken into. “This is for them,” she said, sobbing as she motioned toward her children with the $100 bill in her hand. “This is for my kids.” Whited took Christian’s orders seriously. He searched for people with children riding with them. He stopped a young lady traveling on Athens Road who pulled over in front of where the Vietnam War veterans are selling Christmas trees. “She had just picked up her little sister from day care and was bringing her back home,” Whited said after returning to his cruiser. When he walked back to the vehicle and handed Veandala Coleman the $100 bill. “That’s awesome!” she said. “I’ve never been on the other end of Christmas giving before.” Whited spotted a green Ford pickup truck with a gentleman and two young children in, so he initiated a pursuit. Aaron Summers had just picked up his son and daughter, Mackenzie and Aaron Summers Jr., from a party at school. Aaron Jr., told Trooper Whited that he enjoyed eating pineapple at the party. “I didn’t know why he was pulling me over,” Aaron Summers Sr., said. “I knew I wasn’t speeding.” And of the money? “Every little bit helps when you have two young ones,” Summers said. Leona McCoy was lost, so she pulled up beside Whited who was parked on Stafford Drive, rolled down her window and asked if the trooper could direct her to the old Armory. She had the directions to the Toys for Tots distribution location written on an envelope. Whited served with the Princeton Police Department, so he told McCoy he could lead her there. “She’s going to pick up toys from the Marine Corps League’s Toys For Tots,” Whited said. “I think she could use a little help.”After he got on Mercer Street, he motioned for McCoy to pass him. He followed her for about a half-block before putting his lights on. He approached her, asked to see her license and registration and said he thought her license plate was expired. He returned briefly to his cruiser, but soon returned to give her license, registration and a $100 bill. She emerged from her vehicle with tears streaming from her eyes, and hugged Whited. “It’s just hard to do, being a single mom,” she said. “Mom is trying to help. I love my little ones so much. Oh, my God. Thank you,” she said as she hugged Whited around the neck again. She offered the only thing she could in return. “Come to Applebees, and I’ll do my best to help you,” she said. Sgt. Christian explained that this is the second year that an anonymous donor had given the detachment some $100 bills for the troopers to distribute. Christian said that he didn’t want anyone to know his name. “We don’t even know if he’s from Mercer County,” Christian said. “He just wanted the troops to give people some help for the holidays.”
Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived in style with a motorcycle police escort to the Department of Pediatrics at Tulane University School of Medicine. With lights flashing and sirens blaring the duo was dropped off at the front door on Canal Street in New Orleans on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2015. This is the tenth year that state police have generously sponsored the department's annual holiday party by providing gifts and refreshments to children in need.
In the true holiday spirit, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper helped a stranded South Florida visitor get home by personally, and anonymously, paying for his bus ticket. The young man from Georgia was visiting South Florida the weekend of Dec. 6 when the trip went sour. The man said he was left stranded with no cell phone, no wallet and no help from family or friends. The man said he walked for hours through the streets of South Florida dragging his luggage. The man had little more than $20 to his name. He finally ended up at the Greyhound bus station, where he happened upon FHP Trooper Terence Hicks. "He told me that he only had $20 to his name, that his wallet was stolen. I took it upon my heart to assist him," Trooper Hicks said. The traveler explained his desperate situation and, without hesitation, Hicks reached into his wallet, and his heart, and gave the man $120 to purchase a bus ticket home. The man said Hicks would not give him his name, but told him that if the roles were reversed and he found himself stranded in Georgia, he would want someone to help him get back to Miami. The kind gesture would not remain anonymous for long, as the traveler penned a heartfelt letter and sent it to FHP. In it, he called Hicks a "true American hero" and a "great human being." "It bought me to tears because when the people I depended on the most let me down, God still made a way," the man wrote. "I have never met anyone in my 25 year lifetime that could Care so much about another human beings wellbeing enough that they would do that for me. "I just want to thank him for not only helping me home, but for changing my heart towards people, and making me believe in law enforcement," the man wrote. He concluded his letter with the words, "Thank you thank you thank you, to a true American hero........ From a grateful American!" By providing a detailed physical description of Hicks, along with his age and the exact date and time they'd encountered one another at the station, FHP was able to identify Hicks as the trooper behind the compassionate gesture. In a statement, FHP said that through his actions, Hicks displayed "one of the most important qualifies a police officer must have, compassion."
The Maine State Police are honoring Wreaths Across America with a special license plate this week. The plates feature the Wreaths Across America logo and the state police seal. Troopers are part of the convoy headed to Arlington National Cemetery and have been for the past several years, officials said. The plates were funded by the Maine State Trooper’s Association and the Maine Trooper’s Foundation. After the plates are taken down, the trooper who displayed the plate will sign it and it will be given to families who have lost a service member in combat, or it will be auctioned off to benefit Wreaths Across America, Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said.
Kentucky State Police’s annual Shop with a Trooper allowed more than 70 children to participate this year. It is the 13th year KSP has hosted this event.
It begins with a ride in a cruiser to Wal-Mart where they eat breakfast, take a picture with Santa, and then they begin to shop. They start with the winter necessities and afterwards head for the fun stuff. Each of the children got to spend $125.00 this year.
The funds raised for the event are through fundraisers and private donations. “It allots us the opportunity to take 75 to 80 children from our five-county coverage area Breathitt, Knott, Letcher, Leslie and Perry's counties. We're able to take this children shopping and try to add a little joy to their Christmas experience," Jody Sims, police intelligence officer for KSP Post 13, said.
The United Steel Workers Local Union in Williamson, West Virginia joined in the fun also. They presented a $250.00 donation check to Kentucky State Police’s Pikeville Post on behalf of all union employees of Trinity Healthcare.
KSP also began its Sixth Annual Food Drive for local communities throughout Kentucky Dec. 6. In 2014, KSP collected over 230,000 pounds of food for needy families.
"When we have things like shop with a trooper, cram the cruiser, trooper island those are opportunities, to first, take care of our children, give back to the communities and interact on a positive base it shows that we do care even though it doesn't always appear that way to let people know how much we do care about the people we serve in our communities and to have a positive impact on those people," Sims said.
Sgt. Harold Norris (retired), the second oldest living state trooper in Iowa was called back to action Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. He was on hand to show off the original 1935 Ford Tudor Patrol Car at the rededication ceremony.
The restored patrol car looks exactly like the standard-issue car, and a trooper was dressed in the uniform used in 1935 to match.
Students in the automotive program at Des Moines Central Campus did the remodeling work on the vehicle, and the group Keep Iowa Beautiful partnered with the patrol in rededicating it.
“It’s about symbolism; it represents the State Patrol. It represents the officers that are long gone, and troopers,” said Keep Iowa Beautiful executive director, Gerald Schnepf. “It represents the troopers that are retired. It represents the troopers that are out on the field right now. So, it’s a good symbol, and Iowans need to see that. They need to see that piece of history, and then it should stimulate some thinking in their minds about protection and safety. And what the troopers have done for them.”
The car will remain on display at the Iowa State Bank for the next 30 days. After that, it will travel the state to be displayed at various car and historical events.Sgt. Harold Norris and the Executive Director of Keep Iowa Beautiful were recognized for their assistance in the project.
Ethan Vincent, son of slain Louisiana State Police Senior Trooper Steven Vincent, touched everyone’s heart when he was photographed by April Reeves. The pictures tell such a powerful story of a boy that will forever have his father’s spirit with him.
April Reeves, the Lafayette photographer who snapped the shots, posted on her Facebook,"As promised, I wanted to share more images of Ethan with his father's hat and flag. I truly hope that when he is older, he is as happy to have these treasures as I was to capture them for him. This child is amazing, strong, and so very proud of his dad. There is something about the way he lit up when talking about his dad and the pride radiated from him when he placed that hat on his head."
Trooper Vincent was shot and killed during a traffic stop in late August, near Lake Charles. Kevin Daigle, the man accused of killing Vincent, is awaiting trial. Daigle is also charged in the death of a second man.
All Photos by April Reeves Photography Please contact photographer for permission to use
"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.