'She Hugged Me And Wouldn't Let Go': State Trooper Rescues 2-Year-Old Girl

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Brian Hotchkiss said when state police received the call for the missing girl, he knew they were fighting against the clock.

"These missing kids, it can go really bad. It's time sensitive depending on the time of year, so although it was a nice day the temperature was dropping," he said.

He and the other members of law enforcement knocked on neighbors' doors, but as the sun began to set, they knew they had to make a decision fast. So, Hotchkiss and two other troopers decided to climb the mountain a half mile from the girl's home.

Hotchkiss said it took him an hour to get to the top and he was "winded" by the time he was done. At first all he saw was grey and brown in the trees.

But then he saw a pink dot. He knew it was her.

"I followed the stream and I located the child, she was lying on her stomach on a rock, and I ran over as quick as possible and I saw her arm move and I knew she was alive and my heart just dropped. I was so excited, I ran up she hugged me immediately, she wouldn't let go," he said.

He said she was shivering when they found her and another trooper wrapped her in his uniform to keep warm. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital and he said she's safe and healthy now.

"I still can't get that out of my head, her turning over and looking at me and throwing her hands up in the air. I'll never forget that."


Arkansas State Trooper named American Association of State Troopers 2021 Trooper of the Year


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Press Release

Trooper James O. Ray, of the Arkansas State Police has been recognized nationally for his extremely selfless act of bravery that saved a motorist on the highway.

The American Association of State Troopers recognized Trooper James O. Ray’s heroic actions by naming him the 2021 Trooper of the Year for his pursuit of a fleeing suspect preventing a catastrophic collision between the suspect and an innocent motorist.

On December 4, 2020, at 10:37 a.m., Trooper James Ray was assisting Officer Matt Young with the Arkansas Highway Police with a vehicle that was parked on the shoulder of Interstate 40 near the town of Ozark. Officer Young had stopped with the vehicle to check on the welfare of the driver and had learned that the driver's license was suspended. The side windows on the vehicle were spray painted black preventing Officer Young from seeing through anything other than the driver's window. Knowing that Trooper James Ray was in the area, Officer Young called him to assist with the unusual encounter. When Trooper Ray arrived and he Officer Young began to contact the subject again, the subject placed his vehicle in drive and sped away from the scene traveling westbound on Interstate 40.

During the ensuing pursuit, the suspect fled at speeds over 100 mph and passed several vehicles on the shoulder as he drove very erratically. When given the opportunity to safely end the pursuit, Trooper Ray performed a Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) on the fleeing suspect vehicle. The suspect vehicle was forced into a clockwise rotation in the westbound lanes. Unfortunately, the suspect was able to regain control of his vehicle and began driving eastbound in the westbound lanes, posing an extreme danger to other motorists who were now meeting the fleeing suspect head-on. The suspect traveled a short distance before he crossed the median and began traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes, again driving head-on into the unsuspecting eastbound traffic traveling at interstate speeds.

Trooper Ray, realizing he was running out of options to stop an extremely dangerous driver, drove west in the westbound lanes to get ahead of the fleeing driver who was westbound in the eastbound lanes.

Trooper Ray was able to get ahead of the fleeing driver and crossed the median into the eastbound lanes, now facing the direction he knew the suspect vehicle was coming from.

With quick thinking, Trp. Ray stopped eastbound traffic, and began slowly driving eastbound as the suspect vehicle approached him traveling westbound. Trp. Ray knew that the next unit to be in a position on the eastbound side of the interstate was miles behind him.

Trooper Ray aimed his vehicle at the oncoming suspect and waited. He timed it perfectly, and at just the right moment, when the vehicle was passing in front of him, Trooper Ray accelerated quickly and crashed his vehicle into the front left corner of the suspect vehicle. This action forced the suspect vehicle into the median and disabled both vehicles. Trooper Ray was able to safely place the suspect into custody, and miraculously, neither he nor the suspect had any major injuries. Trooper Ray briefly had the wind knocked out of him and was very sore the next few days.

AAST would like to acknowledge and congratulate the other worthy nominees for the

2021 AAST Trooper of the Year.

Trooper Mark Bartholomew                  Massachusetts State Police

Trooper Michael Berrera                       Massachusetts State Police

Trooper Chance Berry                            Missouri State Highway Patrol

Trooper Jason Brindle                            Pennsylvania State Police

Trooper James Conway                       Missouri State Highway Patrol

Corporal Joshua DiGiacomo               Delaware State Police

Inv. Michael Grogan                            New York State Police

Detective Richard Hershey                  New Jersey State Police

Sergeant Chaz Kennedy                       Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol

Officer Verna Meenan                         California Highway Patrol

Trooper Matthew Morice                   Missouri State Highway Patrol

Trooper Tyler Oliphant                        Tennessee Highway Patrol

Trooper James Parr                             Kansas Highway Patrol

Trooper Ryan Poirier                           Arizona Department of Public Safety

Trooper Cody Rehder                          Oklahoma Highway Patrol

Sergeant Jerril Ren                               Montana Highway Patrol

Trooper Rafael Rodriguez                    Nevada Highway Patrol

Trooper Horlkins Saget                        Florida Highway Patrol

Trooper Leonzel Shavers                     Texas Department of Public Safety

Trooper Timothy Shield                       Massachusetts State Police

Corporal Paul Volker                            Missouri State Highway Patrol

A presentation ceremony will take place later this year. We would like to thank SIG-SAUER our sponsor for the Trooper of the Year event along with our other marquee sponsors; AT&T FirstNET, TREMCO Police Products, MARK43 and Searcy-Denny-Scarola-Barnhart & Shipley P.A


From sleeping in sidecars to ‘speed cops’: Washington State Patrol marks 100-year celebration

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Washington State Patrol (WSP) is marking its centennial in 2021. Like so many things lately, the commemoration has been scaled back and reshaped because of the pandemic.

The WSP is a large and complex modern law enforcement agency, with 2,300 employees, about half of whom are commissioned officers. Those officers are the most visible aspect of the WSP along the state’s highways, but staff also investigate cybercrimes, conduct inquiries into state agencies, and are also tasked with homeland security efforts and the occasional special project. That includes protecting the 2,500 international athletes who were here in 1990 for the Goodwill Games.

But that most visible aspect of the WSP in 2021 – highway safety and law enforcement – is where the agency has its roots and its earliest history.

It was just about 100 years ago –  in the spring of 1921 – when the state Legislature created the Washington State Highway Patrol. This was not long after World War I, a period of major growth for automobiles and an expanding network of streets, roads, and highways. Horse-drawn wagons were still in use in cities and towns, but trucks were taking over the industry, and Americans were buying increasingly affordable Model-Ts and other early passenger cars.

Even rudimentary pavement on what had previously been dirt roads was making highway travel safer in some ways, and somewhat more predictable across Washington. At the same time, cars were getting faster – able to reach speeds as high as 45 miles per hour – and everything about travel by road in those pre-seatbelt, pre-safety glass, pre-airbags era was getting more dangerous and often more deadly.

Chris Loftis is director of communications for the Washington State Patrol. He acknowledges that these are intense times for law enforcement, and he says that like any agency right now, the WSP is in the midst of adaptation and evolution.

And while that modern history is being written in real-time, Loftis told KIRO Radio that the early years for what’s now the Washington State Patrol began officially on Sept. 1, 1921, when the first cohort of 16 officers – most of whom were World War I vets — were dispatched from Olympia to various areas around the state, along the early highways where traffic safety was a growing concern.

Each officer rode an Indian motorcycle, Chris Loftis says, and each of those motorcycles was equipped with a sidecar.

“And in their side cars they carried enough clothing and supplies for sometimes months long deployment,” Loftis said. “Every member was charged with patrolling at least two, sometimes three, and sometimes even four counties by themselves.”

With so much territory to cover, officers weren’t exactly able to go home every night, Loftis says.

“They slept out of those sidecars,” Loftis said. “They had tents. They had sleeping bags. They had their guns, their ammunition, and their citation booklet. They didn’t have uniforms for another three years, but they literally hit the road.”

Though they didn’t have uniforms until 1924, the officers did have armbands to wear over their civilian clothes in order to identify themselves to the motorists they pulled over for speeding or other safety violations. And, along with a tent and sleeping bag, the officers also carried a shovel in the sidecar, because part of the job was to fight any fires they happened to come across.

In December 1923, the Seattle Times profiled L.D. McCardle, who directed the Washington State Highway Patrol during its early years.

Rather than “speed cops,” McCardle told the Times, the officers “might better be called educators to the motoring public, because they make a special effort to explain the law to violators and set drivers at rights, rather than to arrest them.”

McCardle told the newspaper he’d looked north of the border for inspiration in structuring a law enforcement agency for the Evergreen State.

“When the job of organizing the patrol force was given me, I took the Northwest Mounted Police of Canada as my ideal and built up my force along the lines used by that organization,” McCardle said. “The results have been satisfactory.”

The 1920s saw the number of officers grow and the standard equipment improve; in those years, funding for the agency came from drivers’ license fees, and the number of licensed drivers was increasing as cars became more and more indispensable. Along with traffic safety, commercial vehicle weight limit enforcement and vehicle safety inspections, Chris Loftis says that more duties were assigned during a real watershed moment when the Washington State Highway Patrol was about a decade old.

That was all in the early years of the Great Depression, a time of marked civil and economic unrest.

“There were large scale riots in Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia,” Loftis said. “And a lot of those rioters and protesters came to Olympia, and the Thurston County Sheriff said he wasn’t in charge of keeping the Capitol safe. And the City of Olympia Police Department said, ‘No, we’re not in charge of keeping the Capitol safe.’”

“So, the governor and the Legislature rushed through a bill that turned the Washington State Highway Patrol into the Washington State Patrol, gave that organization full police powers,” Loftis said. “Our genesis was very much in a time of strife and a time of protest.”

During those Depression years of the 1930s, even that newly empowered agency was still fairly old-school in its management style and outlook. For instance, it would be decades before the WSP hired their first Black trooper in the 1960s, or the first female troopers in the 1970s; like so many other entities, WSP was a white male-dominated public agency.

And Loftis says that in those pre-World War II years, the hiring process could be fairly politicized, too.

“When you had a new governor, you would have a new chief and you would have kind of a purge,” Loftis said. “Whatever that governor and that new chief – whatever political party they were in – suddenly, all the highway patrolman were in that political party, and so that changed and ebbed and flowed.”

“But by the time you got to that World War II time frame,” Loftis said, “you really have a very organized, thoughtful group.”

World War II was another milestone in the early years of the Washington State Patrol. There were huge increases in civilian traffic on the highways, with a big influx of population from all over the country who were moving here to take jobs at Boeing, at shipyards and at other defense plants in Seattle, Renton, Vancouver and other communities around the state. And the military was on the move in an unprecedented mobilization, shuttling people, supplies and equipment to the bases, barracks, airfields and depots that were popping up all over the landscape.

And not unlike the military, one constant focus for law enforcement in general — which is also a significant part of the State Patrol centennial – is honoring those who have died in the line of duty. In the past 100 years, a total of 31 Washington troopers or patrolmen have joined the ranks of what WSP calls the Fallen 31.

Chris Loftis knows all the stories of the Fallen 31 by heart, including 29-year old Patrolman Gene Bolstad. Bolstad had been with the State Patrol for less than three years when he died on Sept. 3, 1957, in the surf at Long Beach where two teenagers had run into difficulty.

“He rescued one teenager,” Loftis said. “He dove in, came up to the scene, [wearing his] wool uniform, gun belt, boots, the whole thing. [He] comes up to the scene, dives into the cold water at Long Beach in that full outfit [and] saves one young man.”

“And then, I think the most heroic thing is, you’ve got to know how tired he had to be, and then he went back — he and the second young man drowned,” Loftis said.

“That act of going back, even when he had to have felt the fatigue and the fear and the worry and the cold and he went back,” Loftis continued. “That story, I think, is emblematic of who the Washington State Patrol is.”

“You’ve just got a lot of men and women who just keep going back into harm’s way,” Loftis said.

To commemorate the centennial and the fallen officers, WSP had planned a traveling exhibit that would’ve been featured at each of the agency’s eight district offices around the state, but the pandemic put a stop to the traveling component. However, an annual display in Puyallup at what’s now the Washington State Fair will be much bigger this year than in the past, assuming that the fair will take place.

“They’ve given us a much larger footprint, a much larger building, and we’re going to be working over the summer to put a lot of our old vehicles, old uniforms, just a lot of memorabilia from the last hundred years [on display],” Loftis said. “So if you come to the fair in Puyallup this year, you’ve got to come to the to the new State Patrol Museum.”

Leading up to that September fair, Chris Loftis says there may be some blue lights illuminating government buildings, and centennial messages on those highway reader-boards positioned around the state.  On September 1, which is the actual 100th anniversary, there’ll be a parade of vintage vehicles from State Patrol offices in Olympia to the fairgrounds in Puyallup.

All these special centennial activities are fine, says Loftis, but he believes there’s something more important than a display or a parade or colored lights, and which happens to be visible to Washingtonians every day.

“The biggest thing is that you’re going to see what you’ve seen for the last hundred years,” Loftis said. “You’re going to see men and women on the side of the road doing their job, and that job is to slow you down and to keep you safe.”

“There’s three things that we’ve got to do,” Loftis continued. “If we’d all slow down, if we’d all pay attention, and if we’d never drive impaired –  if we’ll do those three things, we’re going to save a lot of lives this year and every year for the next hundred.”

Ephemera collectors will be disappointed, but Loftis confirmed that citations being handed out to speeding motorists in this centennial year do not feature a commemorative 100th anniversary logo.

Loftis also emphasized that claiming you’re “attempting to reach 100 miles per hour in honor of the centennial” is never a valid excuse for breaking the traffic laws of the Evergreen State.


'It's okay, it's okay': Florida trooper stops speeding SUV, helps deliver baby

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A state trooper who stopped a speeding SUV ended up helping to deliver a baby in Florida on Tuesday.

When two troopers pulled a man over for speeding, he told them his wife was having a baby and her contractions were about five minutes apart.

The three got her out of the SUV and onto a blanket on a grassy area on the side of the road, and things escalated quickly. The baby girl entered the world before an ambulance could arrive.

The father caught the baby and handed her to a trooper, who patted her back to help clear her lungs.

Body camera video captured the sound of the baby crying and the parents' relieved sighs.


New memorial honors Washington Trooper Justin Shaffer killed last year in the line of duty

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One year after Washington State Patrol Trooper Justin Schaffer died in the line of duty, the community gathered to honor him.

Schaffer was killed March 24, 2020 on I-5 in Chehalis. Investigators said a man being chased by police, William Thompson, ran over and killed Schaffer.

Schaffer was trying to stop the man’s car and prosecutors said the driver intentionally hit the 28-year-old trooper.

On the anniversary of his death, Schaffer’s co-workers unveiled a memorial with his name and photograph. Private donations paid for the memorial site, adjacent to the WSP’s Lewis County headquarters.

“It’s a place for the family to come, detachment members, anyone who visits this office to see the sacrifice that was committed,” said WSP Chief John Batiste.

Schaffer, who graduated from Adna High School and Centralia College, was also the son of former Chehalis Police Chief Glenn Schaffer.

Thompson is scheduled to go on trial in November on several charges, including aggravated murder for the death of Schaffer and attempted murder of another state trooper. Prosecutors said Thompson tried to hit another trooper on the interstate.


'That trooper saved my life tonight': MSHP trooper recognized for helping suicidal teen

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A corporal with the Missouri State Highway Patrol is being recognized for the way he handled a traffic stop involving a suicidal teen last summer.

Cpl. Jeffrey W. Huff was named the Missouri State Employee of the Month for March because of the care and compassion he showed after a traffic stop that evolved into something darker.

The Missouri Department of Public Safety said Huff pulled a vehicle over on Interstate 70 just east of Kansas City in August 2020 — he had clocked that vehicle traveling 113 mph.

When he learned the driver of the vehicle was a 16-year-old boy, Huff had the boy call his parents. While the teen was talking to his family, Huff learned the teen was experiencing depression and was considering taking his own life.

While waiting for the teen's parents, Huff talked with the boy — he shared his own experience with loss. Huff's brother died by suicide.

Huff explained to the teen how the loss of his brother affected his entire family. He talked about the importance of talking with others, and with working with medical professionals.

Huff's advice to the teen became more important than they realized in that moment.

The teen's parents came to the scene of the traffic stop, spoke with Huff, and made the decision to take the teen directly to the hospital.

Huff later received a call from the teen's mom who said she could never thank him enough for what he did for her son.

MDPS said the teen's mother told Huff that as they drove away from the traffic stop, the teen explained his plan to take his own life. The boy told his parents, "That trooper saved my life tonight," MPDS said.

“One of the core values of the Missouri State Highway Patrol is compassion,” Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten said. “That is clearly what Corporal Huff demonstrated that night in his interactions with this young man. Corporal Huff’s concern went beyond dangerous driving; he made a conscious decision to share his own personal experience to help the teen get through a difficult time and seek assistance. This is an excellent example of the difference law enforcement officers can make in a person’s life.”


Stephen Curry gives jersey, memorabilia to state trooper who played basketball with neighborhood kids

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Stephen Curry literally gave the jersey off his back to a state trooper who took a moment to connect with a group of kids playing basketball.

Trooper Joshua Morris shot hoops with a group of kids in Delaware. Video of the interaction between police and the community went viral, especially after one of the kids was heard yelling “That’s Curry, that’s Curry” when Morris hit a jump shot.

Eventually, Morris bought the child, who he has called “the best hype man ever” a pair of Curry’s basketball shoes, KYW reported. The trooper put some cash inside one of the shoes, and the child gave Morris a hug, with the trooper telling the child, “Anytime you see me, you know, it’s always love. Alright? I always got your back no matter what. When we play basketball together, that’s a common ground that you and I can meet on so we can build these relationships ... That breaks that barrier to be friends so from here we grow, we build a relationship.” Curry replied to the Instagram post writing, “That how you do it to right there.” But Curry’s connection to the trooper and his new hype man didn’t end there. Curry took off his jersey and gave Morris stuffed duffel bags full of memorabilia after Monday night’s game between the Golden State Warriors and the Philadelphia 76ers, The Associated Press reported. Curry had invited Morris to the game after seeing the trooper’s video. “He’s an amazing story ... with the little kid that was hyping him up,” Curry said, according to the AP. “I had to show him some love. The love he showed the young man and just the foundation of impact that he shared. It’s pretty impressive.”


State Highway Patrol announces nonprofit Foundation

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The State Highway Patrol is proud to announce the first nonprofit titled “North Carolina State Highway Patrol Foundation.”

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol’s nonprofit foundation was founded by board chairwoman, Melissa Sutherland and is comprised of local business leaders, community members, legal and financial professionals whose primary mission is to support the organization’s needs in the areas of training, equipment and other invaluable tools which would strengthen our mission by providing the highest level of service and protection to the citizens of this state. More importantly, the foundation will provide immediate financial assistance to members and their families who are either critically injured or die while in the performance of their duties.

“Our resolve to carry out our honorable mission is unwavering and will remain steadfast as we address the needs of our members and their families,” said Colonel Glenn M. McNeill, Jr. “The bravery, courage and tireless work displayed by both past and present members, truly merits the cause behind this great foundation.”

For more information, please go to www.ncshpfoundation.org to learn more about the foundation’s mission, the Board of Directors, donating options and upcoming events.


Injured bald eagle rescued in Orange County by New York State trooper

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New York State Policeposted on Facebookthat a trooper was able to rescue a bald eagle.

State Police say someone driving in Orange County reported a hurt bald eagle on the side of a busy road. The eagle was reportedly seen in the Town of Blooming Grove.

State Trooper Bryan Whalen responded to the call and used his division-issued jacket and a K-9 trooper's bite sleeve to corral the eagle, then safely put it into a kennel.

The eagle was taken to a rehab facility in New Paltz in Ulster County to get treatment, according to state police.


Texas DPS dedicates portion of I-35 to fallen Trooper

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The Texas Department of Public Safety held a dedication ceremony for a part of I-35 to honor a fallen DPS trooper.

The department dedicated the road portion for DPS Trooper Thomas Nipper, who was killed during a traffic stop on November 4, 2017. 

"He served the citizens of Texas longer than I've been alive. I'm 43, about to be 44, and he served two-thirds of his life wearing a badge and a gun and protecting total strangers and that was his calling," said Sgt. Bryan Washko with Texas DPS.

The Trooper Thomas Nipper Memorial Highway, created by the 87th Texas Legislature, consists of a section of I-35 from Temple to Belton in Bell County from mile markers 297 to 294. 

"Trooper Nipper heroically put his life on the line to protect this community, and he will always be remembered for his unwavering commitment to the people of Texas," DPS Central Texas Regional Director Todd Snyder said. "This memorial roadway will serve as a constant reminder of his courageous and faithful service."

Amy Nipper Schmoyer said she will always remember her Dad as incredibly funny, outgoing and caring. She hopes you'll honor her Dad with on his stretch of road by honoring those who serve.

"Officers everyday are putting their life on the line for us and they don't know when they go to work if they are going to come home. They do it for the love of their family and community but it's their higher calling and their willing to make that sacrifice," she said.

Nipper, 63, died in November 2017 from injuries sustained in a crash while conducting a traffic stop on southbound I-35, near Midway Drive, in Temple. He joined the DPS in 1982 and was stationed in Temple at the time of his death. 

Nipper is survived by his wife and three children. 


27-year veteran of Iowa State Patrol, Sgt. Jim Smith, killed in Grundy Center standoff

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A 27-year veteran of the Iowa State Patrol was shot and killed during an attempt to end an hours-long standoff with an armed man in Grundy Center, the Iowa Department of Public Safety said Saturday. 

Sgt. Jim Smith, described as "a hero" by the head of the Iowa Department of Public Safety, was fatally shot while attempting to arrest Michael Thomas Lang, 41, of Grundy Center, authorities said.

Lang, who ran unsuccessfully for Grundy County sheriff in 2020, was charged with first-degree murder and is being held on a $1 million cash bond. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds during the standoff and was hospitalized in critical condition, police said.

"Sgt. Jim Smith died a hero ... he sacrificed himself protecting others," Stephan Bayens, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, said as he led off a Saturday news conference at Grundy Center High School.

"Sgt. Jim Smith was a friend. Sgt. Jim Smith was a brother. Sgt. Jim Smith was a son. Sgt. Jim Smith was a husband. Sgt. Jim Smith was a dad. Sgt. Jim Smith was a protector of the innocent. Sgt. Jim Smith was a guardian of justice. Sgt. Jim Smith was a man of God," Bayens said in an emotion-filled statement. "Sgt. Jim Smith, and I'm going to keep saying his name until his sacrifice has been seared upon the hearts of anyone that can hear my voice."

To honor Smith, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced she would order all flags in Iowa to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on the day of his burial. Some already were at half-staff in Grundy Center on Saturday afternoon.

She released a statement Saturday addressing the killing.

“It’s with deep sorrow that we recognize the loss of Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Jim Smith, a courageous hero who died in the line of duty,” Reynolds said. “Sgt. Jim Smith was a loving husband, father of two, and a pillar of the community. I along with the entire state of Iowa grieve for his family and friends as they try to cope with this devastating loss. Today we are once again reminded of the selfless sacrifices the brave men and women in uniform make. Let us never forget their bravery and that of their loved ones.” 

At the news conference, Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, described a tense chain of events before and after Smith's death. According to Mortvedt, about 7:22 p.m. Friday, Grundy Center police attempted to stop a vehicle driven by Lang, who the officers believed had been barred from driving. Lang instead fled, and a chase ensued into southeast Grundy Center.

Lang pulled over on 250th Avenue, exited his vehicle and assaulted a Grundy Center police officer while yelling "shoot me" multiple times, Mortvedt said. He said Lang disarmed the officer, took his Taser and radio, and put the officer in a chokehold.

A Grundy County deputy arrived to assist and drew his firearm, commanding Lang to put his hands up. Lang instead yelled "come get me," got back in his vehicle and drove off, Mortvedt said.

Law enforcement officials pursued Lang but eventually lost sight of him and proceeded to his home in the 300 block of G Avenue in Grundy Center. There, officers saw Lang's vehicle and Lang entering his home through the garage, Mortvedt said. 

Lang's father arrived and informed officers that "his son had multiple firearms inside the residence, including a .410-caliber shotgun," Mortvedt said.

A perimeter was set up around the house and surrounding areas, and neighbors were evacuated. About 8:55 p.m., an "entry team" consisting of four Iowa State Patrol troopers and a Hardin County sheriff's K-9 unit arrived, Mortvedt said.

Officers announced themselves and entered the home. Mortvedt said that as the entry team was "clearing" the upstairs of the house, Smith was hit by gunfire. 

"Members of the entry team observed Lang emerge from the doorway holding a black pump-action shotgun," he said.

Some members of the entry team removed Smith from the residence while others retreated to the basement, where they heard Lang make "several statements" about shooting Smith and "expressed the desire to shoot more police officers," Mortvedt said.

Lang barricaded himself in the house until about 11:50 p.m., when an Iowa State Patrol tactical team "attempted to make entry into the residence with an armored personnel carrier," Mortvedt said. The armored carrier was one of two such vehicles that had been in use for only a few weeks, he said.

Lang fired on the vehicle, and members of the tactical unit fired back, striking him multiple times.

Police then took Lang into custody and transported him to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, where he was listed in critical condition, Mortvedt said. No other injuries were reported.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a Saturday statement that he was saddened by Smith's death.

"He was a dedicated public servant and courageous law enforcement officer," Miller said. "My heart goes out to his family and friends, as well as to his colleagues on the Iowa State Patrol."

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson issued a statement on Twitter, saying, "I was heartbroken to learn that Sgt. Jim Smith died in the line of duty yesterday. This is a terrible loss."

She asked for prayers for his family, friends and the Iowa State Patrol.

"We can never take the selfless sacrifice our brave law enforcement officers make every day for granted," she wrote.

Smith was the 11th trooper in Iowa State Patrol history to be killed in the line of duty and the first in almost 10 years, according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety. The most recent previous death was on Sept. 20, 2011, when Trooper Mark Toney died in a car crash in Warren County as he attempted to make a traffic stop.

Smith was only the second Iowa trooper to die in a shooting in the line of duty. The first was Trooper Oran "Nanny" Pape, who was one of the "Original 50" Iowa patrolmen. He was shot and killed on April 29, 1936, by a suspect believed to have stolen a vehicle, according to the Department of Public Safety.

The department's headquarters in Des Moines is named after Pape.

Smith is the third Iowa state public safety employee to be killed on the job in the past three weeks. Two employees at the Anamosa State Penitentiary, registered nurse Lorena Schulte, 50, and correctional officer Robert McFarland, 46, died March 23 after allegedly being attacked by inmates who were attempting to escape the prison, state authorities say. 

Medal of Valor Ceremony Honors Heroic Highway Patrol Troopers

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At a ceremony in the office of Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, three heroic Montana Highway Patrol troopers were presented the ‘Award of Valor’ for conspicuous bravery in the line of duty.

MHP Public Information Officer Sergeant Jay Nelson provided details, starting with Trooper Alex Hiday, in relation to the March 15, 2019 shooting of fellow trooper Wade Palmer at the hands of Jonathan Bertsch.

“Trooper Hiday on March 15 of 2019, responded to the assistance of trooper Wade Palmer who was shot multiple times after locating a homicide suspect north of Missoula,” said Nelson. “Trooper Hiday responded soon thereafter and provided lifesaving medical attention to Trooper Palmer and removed him from the scene, where the suspect was still at large. Trooper Hiday continued to provide this life saving medical attention until Trooper Palmer arrived at the hospital. Trooper Hiday then responded back to the scene to help locate the suspect who was eventually brought into custody.”

The next trooper honored was Sergeant Wren, after an incident that occurred near Kalispell.

“The suspect was spotted by a Flathead County Sheriff's deputy,” he said. “The suspect did not stop for the deputy and was pursued by the Flathead County Sheriff's Office, Lake County Sheriff's Office and the Montana Highway Patrol. This pursuit ended on Highway 35 near Woods Bay in Lake County. Upon the pursuit ending, the suspect shot at the deputy and Sergeant Wren multiple times. Both Sergeant Wren and the deputy returned fire and eventually killed the suspect.”

The final recipient was Trooper Connor Wager, who rescued a woman who was trapped inside her upside-down vehicle in a frigid river.

“Trooper Wager entered the near freezing river tethered to only a rope due to the fast-moving current,” he said. “Trooper Wager had to hold on to the vehicle and then break through the rear window with a rescue tool. He eventually saved the driver of the motor vehicle and was able to pull himself and the driver back to the shore to safety.”

All three troopers received the Award of Valor, the highest award given by the Montana Highway Patrol.

The trooper that Hiday rescued, Wade Palmer, was himself twice presented with the Award of Valor.


Everyday People: A hometown Trooper was never alone

WA trooper story Wed


Lonnie Eaton has patrolled a million miles.

In his 30-year career with the Washington State Patrol, the trooper has had the highs of chasing freeway speeders at 100 mph and the lows of comforting grieving accident survivors.

He began his career in Kelso, patrolling Interstate 5 in 1991. At two of his first three fatal wrecks, he was assigned as the lead investigator.

“You just try to be a good human,” he said. “It’s a hard thing to deal with. It’s a sad time and you have just got to try to help.”

But once he left the scene, he found comfort in his faith. “There’s always someone else with me,” said Eaton, a deacon at the Naselle Assembly of God.

Freeway patrol was a rush. “If you haven’t hit 100 mph, you are having a bad day,” he laughed. “I enjoyed that.”

Eaton was transferred to Raymond in 1999. Soon after, the detachment moved to Naselle, where he had graduated from high school in 1985. It meant he and his wife, Kim, could raise their two children in a supportive environment. He coached sports and savored community liaison work like school drunken-driving awareness programs or taking kids to “shop-with-a-cop.”

But it offered challenges. “In your hometown, you are going to stop people — and people that you know pretty well,” he said.

For minor offenses, options of a verbal or written warning or a ticket offer flexibility. “I probably gave people one break, but they then know I’m out here,” he said. “They get one opportunity and then they know that I had to do what I have to do.”

Eaton admits he became somewhat hardened. “When I first started, I was naive. I would take what people threw at me,” he said. “But about eight or nine years in, I started being … I found that my grace has disappeared.

“I never had any real issues with anybody,” he added. “I feel like I have done a pretty good job being as professional as I can. When I stop and contact people I will listen, but I’m not going to start an argument about it.”

Eaton signed up as a cadet during the week of rioting in Los Angeles after the police beating of Rodney King was caught on video. In the intervening 30 years, support for law enforcement has diminished. He has mixed views about recommending it as a career. “It’s a lot harder for me to to do that,” he said.

“In my first seven or eight years on the freeway, I never wore my (bulletproof) vest,” he recalled. “Maybe that was feeling young and ‘invincible?’”

Now protective gear is mandatory; his Chevrolet Tahoe was equipped with a rifle, as well as a shotgun with nonlethal rounds.

“You had a feeling then that people were not out to get you,” he said. “I feel you have to be way more concerned and on top of your game.”

Academy trainees watched a video of officers being shot. “Your No. 1 job is to make it home at night,” he said, repeating his instructors’ mantra. “You get training and walk up to a car and know what might happen. You must be cordial, but you have to be prepared.”

Although he discovered weapons while making arrests, they have never been used to threaten him. “I have never had any really hairy things happen to me,” he said. “No one has tried to use a gun against me.”

One sad memory was returning from an oil change in Warrenton. A car stopped on top of the Astoria Bridge.

“I thought he had broken down,” Eaton said, as he recalled the memory of watching the driver get out and jump to his death. He radioed the U.S. Coast Guard while managing stopped traffic. “There was no eye contact. I didn’t have a chance to say anything,” he said.

His 1991 academy classmate, Capt. Ron Mead, of Bellevue, attended Eaton’s retirement party. “He was a big man with a small voice,” Mead chuckled, recalling their first meeting. “You have left the profession and the agency better for your 30 years’ service.”

That was echoed by his supervisor, Sgt. Brad Moon. “He is just a natural leader, a calm and humble person, not easily excitable, and he is good with people at the scene (of an accident),” he said. “It’s not just a motto: ‘service with humility.’”


Trooper known for 'contagious' smile dies of COVID-19 complications

MI trooper

A Michigan State Police trooper who was known for his "contagious" smile and an unmistakable voice died of complications from COVID-19.

Trooper Herman Brown was 57 and was in his 27th year on the force. Michigan State Police confirmed his death.

Brown worked from the Monroe Post, working in Monroe and Lenawee counties for almost three decades, the Dundee Police Department said.

"Thank you for keeping all of us a little bit safer over the years Herman. We are going to miss your very recognizable voice checking into service nightly with dispatch saying 'Dispatch this is Unit 1414. I'll be checking into service and carrying prep number 1480 and I'll be taking a mighty bite out of crime in that Area 1 today.'," the Dundee Police Department posted on Facebook.

Brown also served as military police in the Marine Corps and then started at the police academy in June 1993, a Twitter post from state police said.

In 2017, Brown was recognized as officer of the year in Monroe County after he saved three girls from a sexually abusive father, according to state police.

Brown had plans to work for five more years before retirng in Florida.

He was highlighted for his service on Twitter by the MSP's First District in February 2020.


Texas trooper Chad Walker dies 5 days after being shot in ambush

fri chad wlker

A Texas state trooper and married father of children has died five days after being shot in an ambush last week.

Texas Highway Patrol Trooper Chad Walker was ambushed on Friday evening while responding to what he apparently thought was a disabled vehicle parked on the side of a rural road just outside of Mexia, a small town about 40 miles northeast of Waco. Walker, who was alone, pulled up behind the vehicle and was shot in the head and abdomen before he could get out of his patrol car, according to a statement from Todd Snyder, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

"Our DPS family is absolutely heartbroken at the loss of one of our brothers in uniform who was killed in the line of duty," DPS Director Steven McCraw said in a statement announcing Walker's death. "Texas Highway Patrol Trooper Chad Walker was committed to protecting the people of Texas. His sacrifice will never be forgotten, and we ask that you keep his family, friends and colleagues in your prayers during the difficult days ahead."

Law enforcement officials had said on Tuesday that Walker "no longer display[ed] signs of valuable brain activity."

"After extensive life-saving efforts conducted by the Baylor Scott and White medical professionals, it has been determined that Trooper Chad Walker no longer displays signs of viable brain activity and he remains on life-support until he can share the gift of life as an organ donor," the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement Monday. "This final sacrifice embodies Trooper Walker's actions throughout his life and service as a Texas Highway Patrol Trooper. The Walker family is grateful for the continued support and prayers as they remain at Chad's side."

Snyder alleged the suspected gunman, identified as 36-year-old Dearthur Pinson of Palestine, Texas, saw the patrol car and "immediately emerged from the driver's seat of the disabled vehicle armed with a handgun and fired multiple rounds at Trooper Walker through the patrol unit's windshield." Pinson then allegedly walked back to his vehicle, retrieved a backpack and fled the scene on foot, Snyder said.

Walker, who had been a member of the Texas Department of Public Safety since 2015, was transported to a Waco hospital in critical condition. Counselors and a Texas Rangers chaplain have been with Walker's wife and their 15-year-old son, 7-year-old twin daughters and 2-month-old baby girl, according to Snyder.

Since the shooting, more than $200,000 has been donated to Walker's family via an online crowdfunding campaign to assist with the family's medical expenses.

On Saturday night, Pinson was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in a house in Mexia, where he had barricaded himself during a standoff with authorities, according to a statement from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The Texas Rangers are leading the investigation into the incident.

According to criminal records, Pinson had a history of run-ins with the law. In November 2007, he was sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison for armed robbery in Texas' Houston County.