Minnesota Trooper of the Year

Minnesota trooper of the year

Dion Pederson of Park Rapids has been named the Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) trooper of the year. Pederson, an accident reconstruction specialist and academy instructor whose career as a trooper started in 1997, received the award Feb. 14. It recognized his service during 2017. An announcement about the award on the MSP's website said, "It has been more than 20 years since Dion Pederson became a Minnesota State Patrol trooper. Yet, year after year, he continues leaving an agency in a better place than the year before." Pederson, the statement continued, "is one of the leading crash reconstruction specialists in the state. He's a mentor. He's a crash data retrieval specialist. He's a firearms instructor and a certified armor. Oh, and he still somehow finds time to patrol the roads, present at conferences and represent the State Patrol with nothing but professionalism." Pederson studied law enforcement at Alexandria Technical and Community College, where he met his wife, Sue, in 1986. He started his career as a deputy with the Norman County Sheriff's Office. "So, I'm actually in my 29th year of law enforcement," he said in an interview. In 1997, he joined the MSP, where Sue had been a trooper since 1989. She is currently a sergeant, the senior trooper in the local office. Pederson teaches firearms and crash investigation at the law enforcement academy in Camp Ripley, where cadets witness real vehicle crashes using dummies "so they can see the live action, how things actually pan out," he said. In real-life accidents, Pederson analyzes the scene, the condition of the vehicles, including the possibility of neglected mechanical issues, and analyzes data from the airbag system's "black box," which is actually silver. "There's just a ton of information in there," he said, "like if seat belts were worn, the pre-impact speeds, was there braking, were there steering maneuvers." Newer vehicles also have yaw sensors and steering wheel angle sensors, showing whether and how a driver reacted to a threat. "It will tell me," he said, "what the car was doing, what the driver was doing; but generally, we can't tell you what the driver was thinking. We can take their word at some point, but evidence won't lie. Skid marks, data that I find on the scene, my speed analysis — that stuff doesn't lie." "If you can make heads or tails of what I wrote," he said, "I think that's good. That's how I explain it at the academy, too. Don't try to sound smarter than you are. Don't try to dazzle people with the word-of-the-day. Just be yourself." In addition to his on-the-road duties and his mentoring work, Pederson also made presentations about crash analysis last year at the east- and west-central Toward Zero Deaths conferences. His advice for today's cadets who would like to see a Trooper of the Year Award on their desk someday is: "Take your calls. Be a good partner. Work. Don't be a load. Everybody has days when you're busting your butt all day long, and there are days when there's not very much going on — you appreciate those days. It actually works well. You go out and work traffic, stop some cars, interact with the people. Hopefully you're making a difference out there." Pederson acknowledged that every time a public safety officer puts on the uniform, especially nowadays, it's dangerous. "When you start your shift, your goal is to make sure you sign off at the end of your shift and go be with your family." In a larger sense, he said, his goal as a trooper is to help people. Besides the opportunity to do that, he said what keeps him putting on the uniform day after day is the daily mystery of what will happen next. "When you get into your squad car," he said, "when you sign on for the day, you have no idea what you're going to be doing. It might be going to a crash. You might be going to a medical call. You might be helping the county at a different call. To me, it's the thrill of the unknown."



Medal of Valor awarded to Texas Highway Patrol Corporal

Texas Department of Valor

A Big Spring woman received the Department of Public Safety's top honor last week at an awards ceremony in Austin. Texas Highway Patrol Cpl. Hope Hohertz was awarded the Medal of Valor, stemming from an incident that occurred Dec. 26, 2016, according to a DPS news release. Hohertz overheard a Big Spring Police Department dispatch report of a person with a gun at a local business and responded to assist the police department in a traffic stop of a suspect armed with a handgun and rifle, the release states. The suspect pointed a handgun with a silencer at Hohertz, according to the release, and Hohertz responded by firing at the suspect, who fled in his vehicle as more officers arrived. Hohertz located the man as he left his vehicle with the semi-automatic rifle. He fired 28 rounds at authorities, injuring a Big Spring police officer. When the suspect tried to reload his weapon, the release states, Hohertz opened fire with her shotgun, wounding the suspect and bringing the standoff to an end. Multiple loaded handgun and semi-automatic rifle magazines were found in the vehicle. The suspect was later convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. 




Record setting Maryland State Police class of troopers graduate

Maryland February 2018 graduation

The 147th trooper candidate class joined Maryland’s finest Friday morning as they were pinned with the badges of Maryland State Police troopers in a ceremony at Century High School. The auditorium was filled with friends and family of the graduates as well as staff members who saw the candidates through their training, members of various law enforcement agencies throughout the state and beyond, and Gov. Larry Hogan. During their time in the academy, the class of 47 set records. From the start of their training until the awarding of diplomas 27 weeks of rigorous work later, only one candidate did not complete the training, the fewest members lost in state history. They also raised funds in the 2017 Komen Maryland Race for the Cure and raised more than $11,000 for Special OlympicsMaryland during the 2018 Polar Bear Plunge. Hogan spoke to the graduates prior to the presentation of badges and diplomas. Maryland’s governor shared an anecdote from 2014, on the day he became the governor-elect and troopers from the Maryland State Police arrived to serve as executive protection. He said the full responsibility of the office and the men and women he oversees became clear to him. He said that though they would face difficulty and criticism in their careers, he and his office would stand behind them with pride. “You will always have the full support of your governor,” he said. Capt. Michael Tagliaferri, commander of the Education and Training Division, addressed the class of candidates who were his first as commander of the division. “It was an incredible experience to watch you each as you develop and grow as individuals,” he said to the class. He advised them to, most importantly, never forget the core values of the Maryland State Police: integrity, fairness and service. Col. William Pallozzi, superintendent of the MSP, also spoke to congratulate the 47 graduates on a badge that is “earned, never given.” He emphasized that the responsibilities of troopers are serious and vital. “You will be looked upon as the one person in an out-of-control situation who can restore order,” he said. As a group, the class took their oath of office before they were individually pinned with a badge and presented their diploma. As one of the final moments of the ceremony, the graduates recited their class motto as one: “In times of strife, we came to life.” On a day that marked the beginning of a career for 47 troopers, retired 1st Lt. David Lauder, one of the oldest living retirees of the MSP at age 95, reflected on his time in the agency. He said if he could do it all again and join the force, he would be on patrol that afternoon. His advice to the graduates? “Smile when you can, but be polite to everyone all the time. Only growl and look stern when you have to.”



California Highway Patrol arrest man riding horse on suspicion of DUI


A man who was riding a horse along the eastbound 91 Freeway in Long Beach during the early morning hours Saturday was arrested on suspicion of DUI, according to California Highway Patrol officials in Santa Fe Springs. Luis Alfredo Perez was taken into custody about 1:30 a.m. on his 29th birthday, according to a CHP news release. The agency posted several humorous tweets about the incident. Perez was riding the horse eastbound on the freeway from Paramount Boulevard to Downey Avenue when a 911 caller reported him to CHP, the release stated. Officers found him after he exited the freeway at the Downey Avenue exit and was riding into Bellflower. The officers gave Perez a field sobriety test and a preliminary alcohol screening device test, which showed a blood-alcohol level of more than double the legal limit. He was booked into jail on suspicion of "DUI on a horse," the release said. The animal, described as a white Arabian named "Guera," was unharmed and was released to the suspect's mother. A CHP official said she came to the scene quickly. "Just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all … you haven’t!" CHP Officer Jeremy Tolen said in an email.



New Jersey Troopers of the year awarded to two for deactivating terror attack bombs

NJSP Troopers of the year

Two New Jersey state troopers were honored Thursday morning for successfully deactivating two improvised explosive devices after a pipe bomb exploded in a terror attack along a Marine Corps race in Seaside Park in 2016.  Detective Sgt. James Abbes and Det. Stephen Christinzio will each receive a 2017 Trooper of the Year award, State Police said in a statement.   Both devices were in a trash can that exploded before the start of the delayed race.  No one was hurt following the explosion, but two of the three bombs remained intact and active, authorities said.

Abbes and Christinzio donned protective gear, approached the explosives and set up equipment  including robots to deactivate the devices.  "Detective Sergeant Abbes and Detective Christinzio performed with calm and focus while under extreme stress, ensuring the safety of others first before risking their own lives to execute their mission, without the luxury of knowing if there were more components of the attack yet to be acted," said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.  "The actions of both troopers have made all of us in the State Police, past and present, proud and honored to call them Troopers of the Year."



Colby College hires head of Maine State Police as new security director

Maine SP Colonel retiring

Following an extensive nationwide search, Colby College has announced it is hiring the head of Maine State Police to take over as its director of security.  Maine State Police Chief Robert Williams has led the force for the past seven years to close out a law enforcement career spanning 33 years.  He began as a trooper with the state police before finally being named colonel by Gov. Paul LePage in 2011.  He will officially take over as security director for the college on March 12.  In a statement from the college, Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer Doug Terp said that “having a seasoned leader with experience in every aspect of protecting our communities will position Colby for continued strength,” especially at a time when security on college and university campuses has become increasingly complex.  “Bob also demonstrates a keen ability to build relationships, which is an important element of this role.  We look forward to welcoming him to Colby,” Terp said in the release.  Williams will lead a staff of 40 employees at Colby and will manage and administer safety programming, facility security, compliance training, emergency preparedness and critical incident management.  “As a native of central Maine, I have watched Colby continue to rise,” Williams said in the release.  “I am drawn to Colby’s commitment to excellence, something that I have continually worked toward as a member of the Maine State Police.  After a full career in law enforcement, I am excited about the opportunity to interact with a whole new community.”  Williams is a graduate of the University of Maine in Augusta and earned a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Husson University.  He also attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.  He began a career in law enforcement in 1983 as an officer in the Pittsfield Police Department.  He later became a state trooper in Skowhegan for 11 years, rising to the rank of sergeant.  He eventually became a lieutenant in the communications unit, and in 2000 rose to the rank of major. In 2007 he was named lieutenant colonel.



New York State Troopers assist childhood friend of Parkland Shooting Victim by purchasing airline ticket to Florida

NYSP Pay for airline ticket

Two New York state troopers are being credited with an immense kindness after they paid for the flight of a young woman to Florida to say goodbye to her friend, one of the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre.   Jordana Judson, 23, told NBC News that she was devastated to learn that her childhood friend, Meadow Pollack, was among the victims of the Valentine’s Day shooting at her alma mater.

Pollack, an 18-year-old senior, and Judson were lifelong friends, NBC News reported.  “They were like our second family our whole lives,” Judson said of the Pollacks.  A photo of Meadow Pollack, one of the 17 victims killed in the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sits against a cross as part of a public memorial in Parkland Florida.  Judson said she showed up at LaGuardia Airport on Thursday, the day after the shooting, frantic to get a flight home to Florida, where she’d grown up.  “As soon as I got out of the car at the airport, I started hysterically crying,” she said.   Troopers Robert Troy and Thomas Karasinski spotted the distraught young woman and asked if she was all right.  She tearfully explained that a friend was killed in the school shooting in Florida and that she needed help figuring out where to buy her ticket.   The troopers led her inside to the JetBlue counter, where an agent told her a one-way ticket to Florida would be almost $700. Unable to afford the cost, she begged the agent to lower the price or allow her a bereavement discount.  The agent could not accommodate her, and was about to give the ticket to another passenger when Troy and Karasinski stepped in.  “I look up, and the state troopers are standing there and they’re both handing over their credit cards,” Judson told NBC News.  “I’m telling them that they don’t have to do this.  This is crazy.  They said, ‘It’s already done.  We want you to be home with their families.’” 

A rabbi who sat Shiva with the Pollack family confirmed that Judson made it home to be with the family and to attend Meadow’s funeral on Friday, where the Miami Herald reported that she was described as a star with “a smile like sunshine.”  



AAST has a new corporate partnership with Galls, LLC

Galls logo

The American Association of State Troopers, Inc. (AAST) is pleased to announce our newest corporate partnership. Galls, LLC, the leading distributor of public safety equipment in America, headquartered in Lexington, KY has generously signed on as a corporate partner in support of the American Association of State Troopers Foundation, Inc. (AASTF).  Galls services the needs of law enforcement, military, security, fire, ems, postal, public transportation and more.  Galls offers an extensive selection of products and brands, competitive prices, responsive service, fast deliveries, and seamless ordering.  With nearly 50 years in the industry, Galls offers thousands of agencies and departments a 360° solution and provides each with a personalized web portal that makes ordering super easy, fast and convenient.  The American Association of State Troopers is proud to partner with corporations like Galls that work every day to support our state troopers and all public safety heroes.



AAST member appointed to be US Marshal

WVSP Lt. to be US Marshall

West Virginia State Police Lt. Michael Baylous has been confirmed to serve as the U.S. marshal for the Southern District of West Virginia.  Baylous was the spokesman for the West Virginia State Police, where he has served since 1994. Prior to joining the West Virginia State Police, Baylous served in the Marine Corps Reserves in Cross Lanes from 1987 to 1995.  In September, he was one of five candidates nominated for the position by President Donald Trump.  On Thursday, the Senate confirmed Baylous to serve as the Southern District’s U.S. marshal.  U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito released the following statement following Baylous’ confirmation:  “I was proud to recommend Michael Baylous to serve as the next U.S. marshal for the Southern District of West Virginia and to support his nomination throughout the confirmation process. There is no doubt that he has a strong commitment to maintaining the rule of law and ensuring West Virginians are safe. I am thrilled the Senate has confirmed him and look forward to working with him in his new role.”  Baylous holds a master of arts in government and public administration from Regent University, a bachelor of arts degree in political science from the West Virginia University and an associate of arts in police science from Marshall University.  U.S. marshals perform the essential functions of protecting the federal judiciary, apprehending fugitives, transporting prisoners and protecting witnesses.


Article courtesy of WCHS TV


Florida Highway Patrol troopers stop SUV with stuck accelerator that went 50 miles on highway, reaching 100 mph

FHP Saves speeding car

Florida state troopers managed to stop an SUV with a stuck accelerator after it traveled about 50 miles on Interstate 95 at speeds up to 100 mph.  A Florida Highway Patrol report said 28-year-old Joseph Cooper called 911 Monday afternoon from south of Port St. Lucie, saying he was heading north and couldn't slow down.  The 911 operator told Cooper to put the vehicle in neutral, but he said he couldn't.  He said he didn't want to use the emergency brake at the speed he was traveling.  State troopers and local police drove alongside the SUV to clear traffic.  Deploying stop sticks three times to flatten the SUV's tires, they finally brought the vehicle to a stop west of Vero Beach.  Cooper was taken to a nearby hospital after complaining of chest pains.



Connecticut State Police K-9 sniffs out big drug bust

CSP Drug Bust

State Police K-9 Silver helped sniff out a big drug bust in Orange. State Police seized a significant amount of marijuana, cocaine and cash.  A Hamden woman and a Derby man were arrested, State Police said.  State Police say troopers seized more than one pound of marijuana, one half kilogram of powder cocaine and approximately $2,500 in cash during motor vehicle stop.  At 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, troopers from Troop G-Bridgeport were conducting motor vehicle enforcement when they saw a 2004 Acura TSX conduct a motor vehicle violation, State Police said.  Troopers stopped the Acura on Route 114 near New Haven Avenue in Orange.  Troopers smelled the odor of marijuana coming from within the vehicle and determined that marijuana may still be contained in the vehicle, State Police said.  Troopers and State Police narcotic detection dog, K9 Silver located and seized the pot, cocaine and cash, State Police said.



New Commissioner appointed to California Highway Patrol

CHP New Commissioner

On Friday, Feb. 9 Governor Jerry Brown appointed a new commissioner to the California Highway Patrol.  Warren Stanley, 56, of Sacramento is the first African American person to hold the rank of commissioner.  According to the governor's office, Stanley has been serving as acting commissioner since 2017.  "Commissioner Stanley has been employed with the CHP since 1982, and is one of the distinguished few to hold every position from officer to commissioner within the CHP," a statement from Gov. Brown's office said.   While working as a patrol officer, Stanley served as a member of the Protective Services Detail and worked as a field training officer.  He excelled through the ranks, supervising the CHP’s Border Division Investigative Services Unit as a lieutenant, and served as commander of the CHP Academy, where he was responsible for the leadership of 191 employees and the training of approximately 1,700 cadets.  Commissioner Stanley released the following statement following his appointment:  I would first and foremost like to thank Governor Brown for placing his trust in me and giving me this incredible opportunity to lead the California Highway Patrol.  I am extremely honored and proud to accept this appointment and serve as your commissioner.  I vow to continue the CHP’s long and distinguished legacy of providing safety, service and security to the people of California, and lead a department committed to earning the public’s trust every day.  Commissioner Stanley holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University, Los Angeles, and is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Executive Institute.  “CHP Commissioner Stanley has served the public for more than 35 years with the California Highway Patrol, excelling at every role from patrol officer to deputy commissioner where he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the CHP,” Acting Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Annis said.  “Warren has led the CHP’s response in the face of some of the worst natural disasters in this state’s history.  We know that under his leadership the department will continue to uphold its mission.”



Michigan State Police trooper credits body armor for saving him

MSP Vest

Michigan State Police Trooper Dan Thayer says he owes his life to the body armor he was wearing the day he and other State Police tried to serve a search warrant at the home of 62-year-old David Kidney in Branch County's Union Township last month. Thayer and another detective sergeant were shot during the incident at the residence on Francisco Road near Arborgast Road.  Kidney was a person of interest in the Duane Finney cold case murder investigation.  Authorities say Kidney came out of his home shooting.  Thayer told WOOD-TV that the vest he was wearing was heavier than the one he normally wears under his shirt.  It worked so well, Thayer wasn’t initially aware that a rifle slug hit him square in the chest.  Detective Sgt. Aaron Steensma was shot in the collarbone is reportedly recovering at home.  Kidney was killed by return fire from the troopers.



New Indiana State Police troopers receive patrol cars

INSP Troopers get new cars

Indiana will have more state troopers on the roads.  32 new Indiana State Police troopers received their patrol cars Tuesday.  The 77th Indiana State Police Recruit Academy class graduated from the academy in October and served three months of field training, where they worked alongside seasoned troopers.  State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said he’s proud of the class and feels a bit like a father to the recruits.  “I’m scared to death, actually, and yes, I do feel like a dad,” Carter said.  “I guess I haven’t thought about it until you said it, but I guess in essence, I do.  (It’s) probably the last time these guys and one gal are going to ever be together again because they’ll all be spread out all over Indiana and I wish them all well and the many blessings they deserve.”



Virginia State Police stop drunk man from attacking a panhandler, then buy victim food and bus ticket


A drunk man jumped out of a van and starting beating a teenage panhandler in Bristol, Virginia Monday afternoon, police said.  But alert Virginia State Police troopers stopped the attack and later purchased food and a bus ticket for the 18-year old who was being beaten.  "At about 12:35 p.m., Monday (Feb. 5), Virginia State Police Trooper Ben Davis was traveling on Old Airport Road when he pulled up to the intersection at Interstate 81’s Exit 7," said VSP spokesperson Corinne Geller.  "Trooper Davis looked over at the off-ramp from I-81 north to see a shirtless, male subject jump out from the passenger side of a Ford utility van stopped at the light."  Geller identified the shirtless man as Victor Allen Asher, 60, Abingdon, Virginia.  The Trooper said Asher had a baseball bat-sized stick and used it to beat an 18-year old man standing near the off-ramp at the intersection asking for money.  "Trooper Davis immediately ran to the 18-year-old’s aid," Geller said.  "It took Trooper Davis and several other troopers to take Asher into custody as he was extremely combative and refused to cooperate with the troopers’ commands."  Police took Asher to the Bristol, Va. Jail.   A VSP Trooper said Asher also assaulted a woman in the van.  The man who was attacked refused treatment, but police apparently were determined to help him.  "Virginia State Police Sgt. Tonya Atwell treated the teenager to a meal at a nearby restaurant," Geller said.  "A trooper then gave him a ride to the nearest bus station and purchased him a bus ticket so he could safely continue on his way."