Ohio State Highway Patrol's Trooper of the Year
A Lorain native committed to serving his community has been named Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper of the Year from among nine District Troopers of the Year across the state. Ray Santiago is honored to be named trooper of the year, but says it is still unbelievable. “It is all so surreal,” Santiago said. “Once they called my name, I took a deep breath and did a mental checklist — kiss your wife, shake captain’s hand, and hug your mother — before walking to the stage.” Santiago said he had no idea he would receive this recognition. “It’s one of the state’s best kept secrets, literally,” he said. “It’s human nature to want to know, but no one would budge.” Santiago said his passion and longing to make a difference in the community came from a childhood dream of being a member of the military. “I had a regret of not joining the military when I was younger,” he said. “When the opportunity presented itself to me to join the Patrol, I felt it was kind of a way to fulfill that regret. “It gives me a chance to serve at a local level, at home and still get that sense of service .” Santiago joined the Highway Patrol in 2010 as a member of the 150th Academy Class. In 2011, he earned his commission and was assigned to the Ashland Post. In 2013, he was transferred to the Elyria Post in North Ridgeville. “I was blessed to be able to return home and I have been here ever since, which is about four years now,” Santiago said. He has earned the Criminal Patrol Award in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Santiago was selected as the Elyria Post Trooper of the Year in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. He also was selected as District Trooper of the Year for the Bucyrus District and Cleveland District and earned the Chiaramonte Humanitarian Award in 2014 and 2016. While appreciative of the recognition, Santiago said he feels everyone who was nominated for Trooper of the Year merits it as well. “Every trooper nominated deserves the title because we all contribute in different ways,” he said. “The only thing I take credit for is the blessing to be able to help my community.” Without his great support system, he said he would not be where he is now. “I have amazingly supportive coworkers, supervisors and family members,” Santiago said. “If I don’t have any one of those ingredients, I would not be able to do half as much as I do.” Aside from Highway Patrol duties, Santiago is active with Operation Open Heart, a nonprofit organization started in 1962 by former trooper David Harper. It facilitates support and mentorship by law enforcement and public safety services of boys ages 6-17, receiving assistance through Lorain County Children Services. “I’m a huge proponent of early intervention and interaction; going to visit them is very fulfilling,” Santiago said. “I’m not there because something bad happened, but because I want to be there.” Santiago also is active in his church, Sacred Heart Chapel, 4301 Pearl Ave. in Lorain, and participates with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Lorain County. He said he makes frequent visits and last year he was able to provide school supplies for the children at the Boys and Girls Clubs. “I truly want young people to know that I’m not their adversary; I’m here to serve them, like a friend,” Santiago said. “Too often, we are viewed as the bad guys. But that’s not the case. We are here to serve them.” Santiago said he wants to continue being a positive influence in the community. “I want to continue contributing to my hometown and making a safer Ohio,” he said.
State trooper saves woman from burning home
An off-duty Indiana State Trooper is being credited for saving the life of a woman trapped inside a burning Muncie home. Trooper Jacob Ridgeway was driving in his marked state police car in the city Wednesday night. As he passed a home in the 1200 block of Cowing Drive, he saw white smoke coming from the back of the residence. Then, he noticed the smoke go from white to black in his rear view mirror. Police say Ridgeway backed up in front of the house and got out off his vehicle. When he went up the driveway, he told police he could see a vehicle engulfed in flames under a carport. The homeowner, Jack Mitchener, was standing outside the carport. Ridgeway was able to get him away from the fire but couldn’t get an information because Mitchener appeared to be in shock. A neighbor told the trooper Mitchener’s wife, Virginia, was still inside. Meanwhile, the fire was spreading to the back of the home. Ridgeway was able to get inside through a side patio door. He found Mrs. Mitchener sitting in a chair with her walker nearby. Smoke was beginning to fill the home as he helped her outside. Once everyone was safe, the trooper radioed Indiana State Police Dispatch to bring fire units. Paramedics also responded and evaluated everyone at the scene. No one was hurt. Ridgeway is a one year member of the State Police and is assigned to the Pendleton District. State Police said the incident is a reminder that a trooper is always on duty and shows the value of troopers living in the communities where they serve.
How 'It's Always Sunny' paid tribute to a fallen New Jersey trooper
If you blink, you just might miss it. "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" paid a subtle tribute to a fallen New Jersey trooper in a recent episode – a move that the New Jersey State Police called "well played" in a Facebook post on Friday. In "A Cricket's Tale," episode nine of the 12th season of the show that aired March 1, there's a photo of Trooper Sean Cullen placed in Paddy's Pub. Cullen, who was born in Dublin, Ireland and came to the U.S. when he was three years old, died after he was struck by a vehicle on I-295 in West Deptford Township last March while responding to a car fire. He was 31. State police were a little more than curious to find how the photo ended up in the show. After a bit of investigative work, they found that "It's Always Sunny" contacted Cullen's family to get their permission. Some family members were cast as extras for the episode, too, according to the New Jersey State Police's Facebook post. "Well, played 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,'" they said in the post. "Well played."
Friday, 85 new troopers officially joined the Ohio State Highway Patrol
The Patrol’s 161st Academy Class graduated today after 23 weeks of intense training. The keynote address was provided by the Governor of Ohio, John Kasich. Additional remarks were provided by Director John Born, Ohio Department of Public Safety, Colonel Paul A. Pride, Patrol Superintendent and Captain Arthur J. Combest, Academy Commandant. The Oath of Office was issued by Judge Peter B. Abele, Fourth Appellate District, Ohio Court of Appeals. Courses completed by the 161st class included crash investigation, criminal and traffic law, detection of impaired drivers, firearms, physical fitness, self-defense, and emergency vehicle operations. Tpr. Joshua E. Jones of Tipp City, Ohio, was selected as class speaker and thanked the Academy and cadet family members for being supportive during their training. Each of the graduates will report to their posts on Monday, March 27, 2017. The graduates’ first 60 working days will be a field-training period under the guidance of a veteran officer. The new graduates are assigned to 24 of the Patrol’s 58 posts.