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Where are Florida's Highway Patrol troopers?

FHP Trooper Shortage

Drunks weaving in and out of lanes on highways. Drivers texting and paying little attention to the road.  Cars drag racing at high speed.  And white-knuckled, frustrated motorists who ask: Why don’t we see Florida Highway Patrol troopers stopping these people?  Answer: Because there are not as many as there should be on our state roadways.  FHP is struggling with chronic manpower shortages and high turnover because Florida troopers’ pay ranks dead last in the nation.  The ripple effect is being felt by drivers who rarely observe troopers on patrol and must wait longer for a response if they are involved in a crash.  The FHP is currently operating with 201 vacancies in a workforce that is supposed to be 1,946 at full capacity.  Starting salary for a Florida rookie trooper is $33,977 — the lowest among the 49 states that have a state patrol. (Hawaii does not.)  California’s starting troopers earn the highest starting wage, at $74,700.  In Texas, it’s $73,000.  In Alabama, at No. 48, it’s $35,590.  “They are in a dire situation and it’s a disgrace,” said Charles Miller, a retired Miami-Dade police officer who worked as an auxiliary FHP trooper for the final three years of his 37-year career.  “Where are the troopers?  You can drive a considerable distance and never see one.  There’s extreme speeding and more and more horrific crashes.  It’s a demanding job and they often have no backup.  It’s a shame for the men and women who put their lives on the line for Floridians.”  Of the 226 law enforcement agencies in Florida, the highway patrol ranks 174th in starting salary, according to an Office of the Inspector General report.  That puts FHP ahead of such small towns as Chipley and Chattahoochee, but far behind Miami-Dade County ($54,090), Broward County ($47,482), Palm Beach County ($51,312) and such local cities as Pinecrest, which ranked No. 1 at $64,708 and Lighthouse Point ($60,000), Boca Raton and Sunrise ($57,000), Miami Shores ($54,038), Miami Gardens ($47,800) and Miami ($45,929).  FHP is battling an 8.83 percent turnover rate.  Plus, the academy that would typically have 80 recruits per class currently has only 25.  Sixty-three recent graduates are in field training.  “Due to attrition and retirements, the FHP has experienced a steady shortage of sworn members over the past few years,” said FHP Capt. Jeffrey Bissainthe.  “FHP uses a proven staffing model to determine minimum staffing requirements for each of the FHP troops, but when there are fewer troopers on the road, it may mean a slower response time for drivers involved in a crash or disabled motorists who are stranded on the side of the road.”  Higher pay in other states and municipalities is luring Florida troopers away, said Matt Puckett, executive director of the Florida Police Benevolent Association.  “We think salaries should be in the mid-40s in order to be competitive,” he said.  Drivers have reason to worry.  Compare data from 2011 to 2016.  The number of licensed drivers in Florida has increased by 1 million during that time and the number of annual crashes has increased from 229,000 to 395,000.  Yet the number of traffic citations issued by the FHP has decreased, from 947,000 to 742,000.  Speeding tickets are down 18 percent.  Response time should be 30 minutes or less, but has increased.  As a consequence of lower trooper numbers, local police and sheriff’s officers are working more crashes on state roads — almost 50 percent of accidents statewide.  “It used to be if I needed help from a trooper late at night, I could count on a quick response,” said Miller, the ex-Miami-Dade captain who often found that during the three years he patrolled for the FHP he would be the only trooper on duty in the entire north end of Miami-Dade County.  “They used to be our pursuit cars on a robbery.  They don’t do that anymore.  There can be a major rollover wreck on I-95 and no trooper available.”  DUI arrests can take two hours or more to process, which further exacerbates troopers’ lack of presence on the road.  Some relief is on the way.  Included in the state budget passed by the Florida Legislature and awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s signature is a pay increase, to $36,223 for starting salaries, and a 5 percent raise for all state law enforcement officers.  The PBA had lobbied for a $10,000 across the board raise and incentives or a step pay plan that would reward troopers for longevity.  “If you hit certain benchmarks, you should earn increases in pay,” Puckett said.  “We will have to revive bills on career development.  People are happy with the 5 percent raise but we need to deal with the retention problem.”

6/13/17

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Rupert native named Idaho State Police deputy director

Idaho SP deputy director

Idaho State Police’s next deputy director is a Rupert native who began his career in 1997.  Maj. Sheldon Kelley, a native of Rupert, will assume his new rank of lieutenant colonel on July 2.  Lt. Col. Kedrick Wills — the next Idaho State Police director — designated his own replacement with the appointment of Kelley.  It will become effective once Col. Ralph Powell retires and Wills assumes his role as director on June 30.  Kelley began his career with the Idaho State Police in 1997 after six years of service in the United States Army.  He attended the Idaho Peace Officer Standards Training and ISP training academies.  He was assigned as a resident trooper to the Gooding County area.  In 2002, he was promoted to a member of a narcotics investigation team in the Treasure Valley.  He was promoted to District 3 Patrol lieutenant in 2010, headquarters captain in 2012 and major in April 2016.Bottom of Form  “Major Kelley is highly deserving of this promotion and I’m confident he’ll handle his new role with the integrity and outstanding attention to detail for which he is well known throughout ISP and the Idaho law enforcement community,” Wills said in a statement.

6/13/17

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Highway Patrol trooper receives AAA South Dakota State Trooper of the Year award

SDHP 2017 Trooper of the Year

South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Cody Jansen has been named as the 2017 South Dakota State Trooper of the Year.  The Department of Public Safety said trooper Jansen, who is with the Vermillion squad, was recognized during an awards luncheon Tuesday in Sioux Falls.  Sponsored by AAA South Dakota, the award is presented to a trooper for continued demonstration of exceptional service to the agency, citizens and communities.  “The Highway Patrol is proud of Trooper Jansen, not only for his commitment to the Highway Patrol, but also to his family and community,” Col. Craig Price, superintendent of the Highway Patrol, said.  “Trooper Jansen reflects the high standards of the Highway Patrol in his daily life and for that, is well deserving of this award.”  The DPS said that in the nomination received for Trooper Jansen, he was honored for his professionalism and ability to work with others.  Among his many duties as a state trooper, Trooper Jansen serves as a field training officer for new recruits.  In his private life, Trooper Jansen serves on the Vermillion/Clay County Ambulance and Vermillion Fire Department.  This is the fifth year for the Trooper of the Year awards ceremony.  Trooper Jansen is a seven-year member of the Highway Patrol.

6/9/17

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State Police Centennial: First state troopers trained in Manlius in June 1917

NYSP Anniversary story

Many Central New Yorkers may not know that the first cohort of New York State Troopers trained in their own back yard 100 years ago this month. WAER News caught up with a pair of retired troopers to find out why 232 recruits trained at what is now the Cavalry Club in Manlius in 1917.  Ted Palmer and Kenneth Kotwas say the push for a state-wide police force came from two prominent women from Westchester County, Moyka Newell and Katherine Mayo, following an acquaintance’s murder.  "It goes back to 1913.  There was a murder of a carpenter foreman.  But the local law enforcement agency wasn't too prompt in responding or paying attention to it.  So the two ladies started a campaign to start the state police."   Kotwas says it was significant that the women were taken seriously. "These two women didn't even have a right to vote at the time."  Remember that didn’t happen until 1920.  Palmer says the bill to form the state police failed in 1916, but finally passed in 1917 by one vote.  "I find it fascinating that the original state police bill is four pages long.  That's all.  I've given a few presentations on the history, and I like to unfold that, and you see this was all the work that was needed that day.  Nowadays, it would take volumes and volumes of paperwork."   It was signed into law that April, jump-starting the second state police force in the United States.  Pennsylvania was the first.  That June, training began at Camp Newayo, named after the women who spear-headed the bill.  Kotwas says it was the site of a National Guard unit called the Troop D Cavalry.  "They were trained in some of the basics that the military was, like, at the time, horsemanship, and use of firearms.  But they were also taught the law, how to affect arrests, and how to follow through on investigations."  Major Fletcher Chandler was appointed by the National Guard to be the first superintendent of the state police…even though he was a physician with no formal military training.  Palmer says he was probably the reason the first troopers trained at Camp Newayo.  "His wife was from Syracuse.  She taught German at Syracuse University.  He went to school in Ithaca, attended Syracuse, got his medical degree in New York City...but quite a connection to the area.  And, as a member of the national guard, was well aware of this facility."  That September, the first newly-trained troopers had their first assignment: policing the New York State Fair.  Today, 100 years later, more than 5,600 officers in 11 different troops patrol the state.  Later this month, a blue state historical marker will be erected at the site of the former Camp Newayo to mark the centennial milestone.  The New York State Fair will also feature a new state police exhibit.

6/7/17

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Florida Highway Patrol sending message with new 'ghost' squad cars

FHP subdued cars

Drivers, here’s your warning: Florida Highway Patrol troopers have a new tool to stop aggressive, speeding, drunk and distracted drivers.  You may not even see them, until it’s too late.  “This is the FHP subdued patrol car,” says Trooper Nicholas Dolan.  The new special squad cars have seemingly “disappearing” decals on the front, sides, and back of the Dodge Chargers.  The reflective lettering can be tough to see, depending on the light at an angle of the car.  “As the vehicle may be traveling by, you may not see it at first glance.  Once the sunlight hits it, or the light hits it, you see “State Trooper” on the side,” says Dolan.  When asked if troopers are trying to be sneaky, Dolan replies, “Absolutely not.  It's for public safety.  With something like this on the road, it's going to keep the public more safe.”  By the time you realize you're caught in the act, like one speeding driver in Brooksville on Wednesday afternoon, Dolan has probably already seen you.  “He said he did not see the car and didn't realize he was going that fast,” says Dolan.  “I'm going to issue you a citation for your speed today,” he tells the driver.  The stealth new ride is based in Brooksville, but will patrol around Tampa Bay.  It's one of five special squads right now in the state.  “In going to a subdued patrol car, we are able to tackle the aggressive drivers on the road, the distracted driving, and texting while driving.  Everything that makes it more dangerous for the public driving on the roadways,” Dolan says.  Some cars are equipped with bullet-resistant door panels and all have front and back cameras and radar.  “I'll let people fly right up on the back of the car following too close, people know that as tailgating.  There's usually a 15- to 20-second delay before they realize, well that might be a police car,” says Dolan.  FHP says not only can the new cars help make the roads safer,  they're actually cheaper.  They cost taxpayers less money than the two-toned paint and large light bar on the roof of the other marked cruisers.  “It's not meant to replace our standard fleet in the highway patrol,” Dolan says.  10News asked FHP why it doesn’t use completely unmarked cars.  FHP says it’s to protect against drivers fearing that they’re being pulled over by a police imposter, and also tougher penalties.  It's a felony to flee a marked police car, and the new subdued car is considered “marked”.  It’s only a misdemeanor if a driver tries to make a getaway from a police car with no decals at all.  Troopers say the new cars are a less-obvious took to crackdown on aggressive drivers.  “Everyone wants to get home safe, that's our primary goal, not to be sneaky but to make sure everyone gets home safely,” says Dolan.  Right now, FHP says there are also new subdued cars around Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Pensacola with more to come.

6/7/17

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Michigan State Police celebrate 100 years with a special open house

MSP 100th Anniversary

Michigan State Troopers and members of the public gathered Thursday in Hermansville at the IXL Museum for the Gladstone post's open house celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the Michigan State Police.  The day began with the posting of the colors and a few words from Gladstone Post Commander, Gregory Cunningham on the history of the State Police and their part in Hermansville's history.  After that people headed out to take in all of the displays on hand representing the past, present and future of the State Police.  I think the only State Police piece of equipment that wasn't on hand was one of their helicopters. They had everything here for people to check out.  There were displays for specials weapons, the dive team, forensics...you name it.  One of the highlights was the many vehicles on hand.  They had everything from a 1957 cruiser to a patrol car from the 30's and even a State Police Model-T.  There was even one model whose efficiency wouldn't be measure in miles per gallon but rather in miles per pail.  Detective Sergeant Jeremy Hauswirth was decked out in the full uniform of a 1917 State Trooper and to top it all off he was sitting atop a beautiful horse looking like he rode straight of another time.  Now I have to give Jeremy the credit for putting together the awesome uniform but the credit for the beautiful horse, whose name is Katey, goes to Hauswirth's daughter Linnea because, apparently, dad borrowed his daughter's horse for the day.  "When the State Police started in 1917 we wore outfits that were basically the standard issue WWI Doughboy soldier outfits.  So that is what I've put together today is a replica of a 1917 uniform from the State Police".  If you were wondering why all this was taking place in Hermansville it's because this was the first State Police post in the area.  Trooper John Maga was the first Trooper assigned here.  His daughter was able to attend today's open house along with some other family.  As I said earlier, there were tons of things to look at but in the end, of course, the fan favorite was the K9 unit.  Nobody can get upset about coming in second to the K9 unit right?  Everybody loves dogs and Bach put on a good show with his handler Trooper Kelley from the Gladstone post.

6/6/17

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Minnesota state troopers' speedy blood delivery saves new mom

Minn State Police Blood run

A new mom is thanking some Minnesota state troopers for their quick action after giving birth.  A happy ending for sure, but the moments leading up to this were intense and unpredictable as a routine C-section turned into a hemorrhage and major blood loss for new mom Lisa Jaeger.  The Red Wing Hospital called the Red Cross for help, but getting the much needed blood from St. Paul to Red Wing had to happen fast or Lisa could die.  That's when three Minnesota state troopers were called into action for a blood run relay.  “I ran out of my squad; he ran out of his,” said Jacob Letourneau, a Minnesota state trooper.  “He grabbed the box, it's in a box about this big.  He handed it to me.  I ran back to mine, threw it, closed the door and away I went.”  A blood run is actually part of the job for troopers.  So far this year, the Minnesota State Patrol has done 37 blood runs.  There were 89 last year and 70 the year before.  The State Patrol says it's something they're good at and proud to do.  “Got it there quickly, got it there safely and got it there in time for doctors to use it and allow Lisa to make a full recovery,” said Col. Matt Langer, Chief of Minnesota State Patrol.  But this one was a bit different. A long the way, troopers learned that Lisa was actually one of their own.  She's the fleet manager for the Minnesota State Patrol.  “When I found out it was one of our own, it made it a lot more personal,” said Letourneau.  “I've known about the blood run,” said Jaeger.  “I've been on a ridealong where we actually did a blood run.  Never thought in a million years that a blood run would be something that saved my life and so I'm very, very grateful to these troopers.”  Doctors told Lisa had the blood arrived just a few minutes later, she may not have made it.  But thankfully, Lisa, her husband Brent and baby Ryan are doing well and enjoying life together.  “I've got quite a story to tell about him when he gets older,” said Jaeger.  In addition to blood runs, state troopers also transport plasma, platelets and organs upon request.

6/5/17

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Vigil for slain trooper planned at State Police headquarters

Virginia State Police SA Michael Walter EOW

A vigil planned for Wednesday evening at Virginia State Police headquarters will honor Special Agent Michael Walter, who was shot and killed in the line of duty Friday in Mosby Court.  In cooperation with the VSP, Respect and Remember-Richmond United for Law Enforcement will hold a prayer vigil on Wednesday, May 31, from 6:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.  The vigil will be held at the site of Walter’s State Police cruiser memorial in front of Virginia State Police Headquarters, located at 7700 Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield County.  Participants are allowed to bring flowers and balloons to be left at the memorial.  “We will join together in unity and prayer to be followed by a memorial tribute to remember Virginia State Police Special Agent Michael T. Walter,” wrote Cheryl Nici-O’Connell with Richmond United for Law Enforcement.  “Please join us as we come together to support the family, pay our respects, and unite together as a community.”  Walter, who served nearly 20 years with Virginia State Police, is survived by his wife and three children.

5/31/17


State trooper father-daughter dance in honor of child who died of rare brain cancer

 

A Central Texas mother is trying to bring awareness to a rare form of brain cancer that killed her daughter five days after she was diagnosed.  Jade Bridlier was born May 28, 2012.  According to the website in her honor, Jade bumped the back of her head during a vacation in August of 2016.  Later that evening, her eyes started to cross.  Her parents brought her to the ER, and during the course of a few days, Jade had a CT scan and a MRI.  On Aug. 24, doctors learned that Jade had a tumor on the pons area of her brain.  She was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a rare form of brain cancer.  Diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas are highly aggressive and difficult to treat brain tumors found at the base of the brain.  Approximately 300 children are diagnosed with DIPGs each year, usually between the ages of 5 and 10.  The survival rate for DIPG is very low.  According to the website, within two days in PICU, Jade lost the ability to walk, eat, swallow, urinate and talk.  Her last words spoken were, “Mommy, I want to go home.”  Jade passed away on Aug. 29, 2016. She was 4 years old.  After Jade’s death, her mother, Vicky, resigned from her position as Chief Operating Officer at College Station Medical to make spreading awareness of DIPG her job full time.  She founded The Cure Starts Now Central Texas Chapter.  Jade’s father is a Texas State Trooper, so her family began to call her trooper’s angel.  Recently, a video has gone viral of Texas State Troopers dancing with their daughters.  The video is of the first event held on May 20 by Vicky’s chapter.  Vicky said that Jade wanted to attend a father-daughter dance before her diagnosis, and her mother told her she could attend the dance when she was  5 years old.  Unfortunately, Jade passed away before she could attend the dance, but her mother was determined to have one in her honor.  In the beginning of the video, you see Jade’s father dancing with her younger sister, Mila. Vicky invited all the troopers that worked with her husband to the dance.  In the viral video, you can see all the troopers dancing with their daughters.  Vicky is already planning to host two more events later in the year to spread awareness of DIPG.  In September, there will be a golf tournament and a Painting with a Twist fundraiser in California.

5/31/17

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Illinois State trooper pulls over former NASCAR driver Tony Stewart

ISP Tony Stewart

Former NASCAR driver Tony Stewart didn't get off with just a warning when he was stopped on Interstate 88 in Illinois, over the weekend.  He also got a photo of himself with a smiling state trooper - who then tweeted it out.  "Just pulled over NASCAR legend Tony Stewart on I-88 in Dekalb IL, what you think I got him for?" Trooper Damein Cunningham wrote in the tweet.  Not what you might think.  Stewart was pulled over by Cunningham for improper lane usage.   "He was not stopped for speeding," state police spokesman Jason Bradley clarified.  Stewart was pulled over by Cunningham for improper lane usage and was given a warning, according to Bradley, who said the state police are reviewing the trooper's Twitter post.

5/30/17

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Virginia State Police Special Agent killed in line of duty

VSP End of Watch Walter

Special Agent Michael Walter was shot and killed in the 1900 block of Redd Street in Richmond, Virginia, while investigating a suspicious vehicle at approximately 7:30 pm.  He and several Richmond Police Department officers were conducting high visibility patrols in the Mosby Court public housing complex due to a recent trend of shootings and other crime. The officers were approaching a vehicle parked facing the wrong direction on Redd Street. As they spoke to the two occupants of the vehicle the passenger opened fire on them, striking Special Agent Walter.  Special Agent Walter was transported to VCU Medical Center where he succumbed to his wounds early the following morning.  The subject who shot him fled the scene but was arrested in Northumberland County, Virginia, several hours later.  Special Agent Walter was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.  He had served with the Virginia State Police for 18 years and was assigned to the Bureau of Criminal Investigations' Drug Enforcement Section. He is survived by his wife, daughter, and two sons.

5/30/17

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Path cleared for father, son to serve in State Police

LSP Nepotism

A bill carving out an exception in Louisiana's nepotism law to allow new State Police Col. Kevin Reeves' son to remain with the agency won final Legislature approval here late Tuesday.  Senators voted 33-4 for House Bill 308 by Rep. Jack McFarland, R-Winnfield. Gov. John Bel Edwards has said he will sign the bill into law.  "I'm certainly pleased," Reeves said.  "I appreciate the confidence the governor has shown in me and the trouble they've gone to for this and my son.  He's enjoying his career and looking forward to carrying it on."  When Edwards appointed Reeves as interim superintendent of the State Police this spring, it appeared existing ethics laws would disqualify his son, Kaleb Reeves, from continued service because the son hadn't been with the agency at least one year.  Kaleb Reeves, who graduated from the State Police Academy in April, applied to the academy two years ago and began his training in November 2016, long before it was known his father might be tapped to lead the agency, according to the Edwards administration.  "I'm a father first and want my son to be able to pursue the career he has chosen," Reeves told USA Today Network in a previous interview.  Edwards is considering Reeves for the permanent post along with other candidates.  McFarland said his bill won't weaken Louisiana's nepotism laws.  "This seems like a clear case of unintended consequences," McFarland said.  "Why should the son or the father be punished when they could have no prior knowledge Reeves would be named to lead the State Police?"  Reeves was promoted following the retirement of longtime Col. Mike Edmonson, who retired following a scandal involving questionable travel by some troopers on the taxpayers' dime.  Reeves, a Baton Rouge native who settled in Jackson Parish, began his career in 1990 at Troop A in Baton Rouge as a motorcycle officer.  He transferred in 1993 to Troop F in Monroe, where he worked in the patrol divisions as a resident trooper in Jackson Parish.  He was promoted to sergeant in 1998 and worked as a shift supervisor.  Reeves was promoted to lieutenant in 2003 and was eventually named Troop F Commander in 2008 before taking over as Region III commander in 2013.

2/26/17

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Highway Patrol to ramp up efforts for Memorial Day

Miss HP Drive to Survive Campaign

The Mississippi Highway Patrol plans to kick off its 2017 Memorial Day Travel Enforcement Period with a safety awareness initiative titled, “Drive to Survive.”  The enforcement period will start Friday, May 26, at 6 p.m. and end Monday, May 29, at midnight.  Motorists are encouraged to drive safely, along with making responsible decisions.  With traffic expected to see a boost, all available troopers will be assigned saturation patrols in an effort to maximize visibility and reduce traffic crashes.  Safety checkpoints will also be set up to prevent impaired driving and promote seatbelt usage.  In 2016, MHP investigation 132 crashes with two fatalities and made 164 DUI arrests on state and federal highway systems throughout the period.

5/25/17

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State troopers face shortage due to layoffs

CSP Layoffs

At a time when troopers are in short supply, the state announced several layoffs within the police agency Tuesday.  Four lieutenants, two sergeants, five troopers and the incoming class of 79 cadets were notified that due to budget cuts, they were being laid off, Fox 61 reported.  Connecticut State Police Union President Andrew Matthews told the news station that 169 members are eligible for retirement.  Almost 70 officers could be eligible in the next six months.  The police union said a total of 86 officers, including the incoming cadet class, have been laid off. According to WTNH, the police force has dropped by more than 250 officers since 2009.   “If we don’t get another class in it will affect not only the capabilities of the state police but public safety in general throughout the state,” Matthews said.  Matthews said they offered the governor multiple alternatives to layoffs, including discontinuing the use of temporary workers.   “The state of Connecticut actually has retired troopers that work for the agency who collect a pension and they’re allowed to work up to 960 hours a year,” he told Fox 61.  “They do investigative work and they make about 34-dollars an hour so that’s roughly about 32-thousand dollars a year.”  This is the first time command staff has been laid off in budget cuts, WTNH reported.  The lieutenants who were cut have served with the state police for 12 to 18 years.  “Some of these individuals that are gonna be getting laid off have families, have children and now they need to go home tonight and tell their spouse and their children in four weeks they’re not gonna have a job,” Captain Michael Thomas said.

5/25/17

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New class starts state trooper training

KSP Class 95 begin training

63 law enforcement officers from Kentucky began training classes Sunday at the Kentucky State Police Academy in Frankfort, Kentucky.  According to a release, the intensive training program is designed for any current officers who want to become Kentucky State Troopers.   The course, Cadet Class 95, is a condensed 12-week course for the current officers with two years of Kentucky Police Officer Professional Standards law enforcement experience.  Officers also take a variety of physical fitness tests and running exercises within the first day of class.   Officials say 41 of the 63 officers in the class are from different Kentucky police departments, 17 come from county sheriff's offices or departments, three are KSP Commercial Vehicle Enforcement officers, and two come from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.   Combined, the 63 officers represent 28 different Kentucky police departments, 12 sheriff's offices, and two state agencies. 

5/23/17

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