Florida Highway Patrol trooper returns to work after nearly losing his life when hit by a distracted driver

 

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper has returned to the job after he nearly lost his life when he was hit by a distracted driver in 2017. Trooper Carlos Rosario is getting back to life as he knew it, but nothing about Wednesday is normal. First, he reported for duty at FHP headquarters by helicopter. His return came after a near deadly accident on March 17, 2017. “On this day, my life changed due to an unfortunate traffic crash where I almost lost my life,” Rosario said. Rosario was working a detail on State Road 836 when a distracted driver struck and nearly killed him. Getting to this day has not been easy, but he’s had a lot of support. “During that time, I have often questioned if today would ever happen, but it has,” said FHP Maj. Chris Dellapietra. “Today is the day we welcome Trooper Rosario back to full active duty.” Rosario’s fellow troopers, officers from around South Florida, first responders with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, some of the medical staff who helped save his life and his family were all by his side for this special day. “Welcome back, brother, glad to be a part of it,” said Miami-Dade Fire rescue Chief Dave Downey. “During the past 14 months, I’ve had multiple surgeries, learned to walk, talk and rely on others for basic life needs,” Rosario said. Rosario said he relied heavily on his faith and counts that as a big reason why he’s here today. “Let’s love, and let’s help each other like we are destined to do. God bless you and thank you. Jesus lives,” he said. The FHP director was also on hand to announce that Rosario will be promoted to a corporal rank. That promotion will take effect Feb. 1.

 1/11/19

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Connecticut State Police's new commander

Connecticut New Commander

A man who is well-respected by his colleagues and considered a gentleman and family man will be the new commander of Connecticut State Police. Lt. Col. Stavros J. Mellekas, 51, now commanding officer of the Office of Field Operations, is based at headquarters, 1111 Country Club Road, Middletown, and works for the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. He is expected to replace Col. George F. Battle once the Lamont Administration is in place after the first of the year. Mellekas, who was born in Newport, R.I, and comes from a large, well-known Greek family, has been married to his wife Kim for 25 years. They live in Bristol with their three children: two in college and one a senior in high school. “He’s one of the great leaders. He’s a really fair guy, easy to get along with, but also firm at the same time,” said Connecticut State Police Union Sgt. John Castiline. “I’m happy to work closely with him” during Mellekas’ tenure in a great number of roles within the agency, Castiline said. The origin of DESPP began in 1903, when Connecticut lawmakers created the nation’s first state police department consisting of five men who drew a salary of $3 a day to enforce state liquor and vice laws, according to the department.  “Our No. 1 priority is we really have to [restore the ranks to capacity], and put a diverse group in place,” Mellekas said. While budgeted for 1,201 troopers, state police now employ around 900 officers. He attributes those figures to two factors: retirements and a lack of qualified law enforcement personnel applying for positions. As a result , Mellekas will conduct exams in the near future and recruit troopers. “It’s an ongoing process, and difficult to find interested, qualified, diverse candidates. Applicant numbers are a lot lower than they used to be,” he said.  “The process is very stringent. It’s a demanding job, but very rewarding, he said.  Mellekas earned a bachelor of arts degree from St. Anselm College in 1990, and was an officer with the U.S. Capitol police in Washington, D.C., from 1991 to 1994. He was assigned to the Senate Division and Dignitary Protection.  His special assignments included the Civil Disturbance Unit and 1993 presidential inaugural detail, he said. The commander was a patrol trooper from 1994 to 1999 at several barracks: Troop B in North Canaan,Troop L in Litchfield, Troop I in Bethany and Troop H in Hartford. He was a detective on the Central District Major Crime Squad from 1999 to 2008, was promoted to state police sergeant in March 2008, lieutenant in December 2011, and captain in April 2016.  “I attribute my successful rise within the state police to the opportunities I had working alongside outstanding investigators,” he said.  “As a detective, I have gained the most experience while working alongside senior investigators, testifying in several murder trials resulting in convictions, and working on several lengthy, complex, and sensitive investigations.”  Mellekas said the job of a trooper is service-oriented, noting, “We treat people with dignity and respect, and hold them accountable for their actions.”  Troopers have myriad responsibilities in the field.  “They could be on the highway most of their shift, enforcing motor vehicle laws or they could be in town with primary law enforcement responsibilities,” he said.  These officers also work with their district’s major crimes squad, and on specialized criminal investigations, as well as statewide automobile thefts and undercover work, Mellekas said.  They also assist local authorities and the State Attorney’s Office on police-involved shootings and other cases.  These crimes are among the most challenging ones troopers face, Mellekas said.  “We do a lot for our communities — from burglaries to alarm checks, minor accidents, speed enforcement and large narcotics [busts],” he added.  Troopers take pride in being able to solve these crimes.  It’s a very rewarding profession, he said.  “It’s interesting, and you get to help people.  I work with a lot of quality personnel who share similar goals,” Mellekas said.  The addition of police body cameras has added a new dimension to police work.  The technology often helps support the state’s prosecutions in court.  Troopers welcome these cameras and take criticism in stride, the commander said.  “We’re not perfect: Nobody’s perfect.  If you do the right thing and demonstrate professionalism — that’s the state police way.  We hold ourselves to a certain standard.  There’s a long history of tradition in state police, which is why it’s an extremely difficult profession,” Mellekas said.  He has conducted complex investigations with other agencies, such as the FBI, DEA, NYPD, Massachusetts and Rhode Island state police, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and Hartford and New Haven police.  One of the most trying tasks troopers are given is notifying family members of a death.  That includes preventing loved ones from breaching crime scenes.  “Any trooper who’s done that remembers it. It needs to be done with honor,” said Mellakas, whose staff often invite clergy to help them deliver the news.  “I don’t know if anyone gets used to it,” the commander said.  Homicides and other “horrible crimes” are heart-rending for troopers, Mellekas said.  They remain diligent and focus their energy on the job at hand: helping families and getting to the motive, cause of death, and bringing the assailant to justice, he said.  During motor vehicle or other accidents, those involved are overwhelmingly victims of happenstance, “when malice is not a factor,” Mellakas said.  “Somebody made a mistake, and now people are suffering.  We determine how it happened and do our best to give people answers.”

1/9/19

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Nebraska State Patrol trooper seizes cocaine and heroin in traffic stop

Nebraska State Police drug bust December 2018

A Nebraska State Patrol trooper found 13 pounds of cocaine and three pounds of heroin and arrested two men Sunday following a traffic stop on Interstate 76 just north of the Colorado border, the agency reported Monday. At 3:43 p.m. (MST), the trooper pulled over an eastbound Nissan Sentra for speeding at mile marker 2, spokesman Cody Thomas said in a news release. "During the traffic stop, the trooper detected criminal activity and conducted a search of the vehicle," Thomas said. The cocaine and heroin were found under the manufactured floor beneath the front seats of the car.

1/7/19

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Illinois State Police graduates 59 new troopers

Illinois state police december 2018 graduation

Of 59 new Illinois state troopers set to begin work Monday, eight are headed to East Central Illinois. Illinois State Police Director Leo P. Schmitz commissioned the troopers at a graduation ceremony Friday in Springfield. Cadet class 128 completed 27 weeks of training in physical and classroom instruction. Topics covered included cultural diversity, domestic violence, critical-incident response, firearms, control and arrest tactics, juvenile and criminal law, the Illinois Vehicle Code, motor carrier safety, and more. The probationary troopers will now participate in 14 weeks of field training with a mentor trooper before being sent out on their own. The 59 new troopers are being parsed out to 16 state police districts. The new troopers raised $3,600 for Special Olympics Illinois and donated 52 units of blood to the Central Illinois Community Blood Center.

1/7/19

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Governor Raimondo appoints James Manni as Rhode Island State Police Superintendent

RISP New Superintendent

The town manager of Narragansett, a former high-ranking trooper, has been appointed Rhode Island’s next state police superintendent. Gov. Gina Raimondo’s office on Thursday announced the selection of James Manni as the next head of the state police. He is set to replace Col. Ann C. Assumpico, whose retirement was announced on Monday. “I’m very excited at the realization I will be going back to the Rhode Island State Police as the superintendent,” Manni said Thursday, calling it every state trooper’s dream. “It’s such an honor to be considered for the position,” he said. Manni, 57, of South Kingstown, said he planned to meet with Assumpico and reevaluate the force he retired from in 2015 to assess areas in need of improvement. Manni said he gave the Town of Narragansett notice that day that he was voluntarily resigning. The three-year contract he signed with the town requires that he give 60 days’ notice, meaning he will continue in his capacity as town manager for up to 60 days. “I want this to be as seamless a transition as possible for the town” and its residents, he said. “Major Manni has had a long and respected career serving the state in law enforcement and local public service,” Raimondo said in a written statement. “He will undoubtedly continue the rich tradition of service at the Rhode Island State Police.” Assumpico, in a statement released Thursday afternoon, said: “I am pleased to pass the torch to James Manni, a fellow trooper and command staff member, who will continue to build upon the legacy of the Rhode Island State Police while maintaining the traditions of excellence that have made it one of the most respected law enforcement agencies in our country. I wish him all the best in his new role. During his tenure in the state police, Manni won a service ribbon in recognition of his role in a 1991 chase on Route 95 through Providence. Manni and other troopers were chasing suspects involved in the robbery of a grocery store when the suspects opened fire, police said at the time. Manni, a passenger in one of the cruisers, returned fire with a shotgun, according to Journal archives. Nobody was hit, and the troopers, Manni among them, were recognized for maneuvers that kept other motorists safe. He was also one of the first-responders on the scene of The Station nightclub fire in West Warwick.

1/2/19

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Rhode Island State Police Colonel Ann Assumpico Stepping Down

RISP Colonel stepping down

Col. Ann C. Assumpico, state police superintendent and director of the Department of Public Safety, confirmed Monday afternoon her intent to retire next month after launching what she called “the most diverse State Police Training Academy in the state’s history.” Assumpico became the first woman to run the state police when Gov. Gina Raimondo appointed her in November 2016. Assumpico, 62, did not state a reason for her retirement after 26 years on the force, or for the abrupt announcement on Christmas Eve. “My goal from day one was to increase diversity throughout our ranks, to more accurately reflect the ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic communities our agency serves,” she said in a statement. “I am immensely proud of the steps we have taken to achieve this goal, including promoting women and minorities in all ranks and creating a new recruitment process that resulted in a record number of women and minority recruits for the State Police Training Academy Class that is scheduled to begin on January 14,” Assumpico said. “I have full confidence that these new recruits will help our agency better serve and protect members of all communities throughout our state.” As director of training, Assumpico ranked seventh in the chain of command, and her ascension to superintendent two years ago moved her past other higher-ranking state police leaders. After Assumpico’s announcement on Christmas Eve, the governor issued a brief statement. “Colonel Assumpico has led the State Police with honor and integrity,” Raimondo said. “She has shown a consistent focus on increasing opportunities for women and people of color in law enforcement, and because of her hard work, next month’s Training Academy will be the most diverse in state history. Rhode Island is a safer place thanks to her service.” Assumpico has been a law-enforcement officer for 42 years, starting as a correctional officer at the Adult Correctional Institutions and then joining the Coventry police. In 1992, she became a state trooper. She was planning to retire in 2016 when Raimondo asked her to assume command. When she was sworn in, women made up only 1 percent of the police chiefs in the nation. Just 13 percent of the law-enforcement ranks were women, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and state police agencies in particular were the slowest to integrate. Assumpico’s goal was to change that. She said in 2016 that one of her priorities was to increase diversity within the agency, and nearly a third of the people she promoted — 10 out of 36 — were women and minorities, including two members of the command staff. Last year, Assumpico sought an outside law-enforcement consultant and paid $225,000 out of the state police budget for a report to analyze the agency and develop strategies to recruit and retain a more diverse force. The consultant’s report and recommendations released in January were the first-ever outside assessment of the state police, according to a spokeswoman. Assumpico used the recommendations to revamp recruitment and retention strategies, and a recruitment drive a year ago resulted in one of the largest, most diverse pools of candidates in the state police history. At least 44 percent of the 1,403 applicants were women or members of minority groups, according to the state police. When the academy starts on Jan. 14, nearly half of the recruits will be women and minorities. That includes 31 men and 9 women, and 19 members of minority groups. At the Capitol Police, which Assumpico oversees, the new class was more diverse. “I am proud of the efforts we have made over these past two years and believe we have set a good path for the future, to help continue the agency’s storied traditions of providing service with excellence, while also ensuring that our troopers truly reflect members of the communities we serve now and, in the future,” Assumpico said in the statement Monday.

12/28/18

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Missouri State Highway Patrol graduates 27 new troopers

Missouri State Highway Patrol December 2018 graduates

Lieutenant Colonel Eric T. Olson, acting superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, announces that 27 troopers graduated from the Patrol’s Law Enforcement Academy on December 21, 2018. The ceremony took place at 10 a.m. in the Academy gymnasium. The 106th Recruit Class reported to the Academy on July 2, 2018, to begin the 25-week training to become a trooper. The new troopers will report to duty in their assigned troops on January 7, 2019. Governor Michael L. Parson provided the keynote address during the graduation ceremony. Missouri Department of Public Safety Director Sandra K. Karsten served as a special guest speaker and Lt. Col. Eric T. Olson also addressed the class. The Honorable Roy L. Richter, Missouri Court of Appeals-Eastern District, administered the Oath of Office to the new troopers. Dean Roger K. McMillian, vice president of College Affairs for Mineral Area College, conferred an Associate of Applied Science to 16 of the new troopers. Troop F Color Guard presented and retired the colors. Trooper Orry R. Baker, Troop C, sang the national anthem. Minister Eric Bridges, Delray Christian Church, Delray, WV, provided the invocation and benediction.

12/27/18

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31 Washington State Patrol Troopers Sworn In

WSP December 2018 graduation

At a ceremony held in the Capitol Rotunda December 13, 31 Washington State Patrol (WSP) troopers were sworn in by Chief Justice Mary E. Fairhurst of the Washington State Supreme Court.  They were presented their commission cards by Governor Jay Inslee and Chief John R. Batiste, who welcomed them into an organization known and trusted by the citizens of Washington State. After completing over 1,000 hours of training, these men and women will join Washington’s premier law enforcement organization.  The Washington State Patrol Academy produces approximately three cadet classes each biennium, which accounts for about 100 to 120 new troopers. Historically, only about four to six percent of the total number of applicants makes the grade to become WSP troopers. “The 31 cadets graduating today endured a rigorous application process, extensive background investigation, and received the best training, unmatched anywhere else in the nation,” said Chief John Batiste. “Today, they will join the ranks of Washington’s finest, as troopers of the Washington State Patrol.” A tradition that began 97 years ago on June 21, 1921, when six brave men kick-started their Indian motorcycles, strapped on an arm band, and started a proud tradition known today as the Washington State Patrol.  The tradition continues to this day with the graduation of the 110th Trooper Basic Training Class at the Capitol Rotunda, signaled by the stream of shiny white patrol vehicles parked in the lanes leading up to the Capitol steps.

12/20/18

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Indiana State Police graduates 54 new troopers

INSP December 2018 graduation

December 13, 2018, the 78th Indiana State Police Recruit Academy completed their graduation ceremony in the Indiana State Capitol Rotunda. Opening remarks were made by Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter, followed by a commencement address from Mr. John Stehr, a local Indianapolis television news anchor. After the commencement address the oath of office for the 54 new state police officers was delivered by The Honorable Justice Mark Massa, of the Indiana Supreme Court. Each new trooper was then presented their badge and official identification by Superintendent Carter and his staff. Today’s graduation marked the culmination of 22 weeks of intense training that exceeded 1,018 hours. Some subject areas of training included criminal and traffic law, crash investigations, emergency vehicle operations, defensive tactics, firearms, and a host of other subjects related to modern policing. Each graduating trooper will be assigned to one of 14 State Police Posts across Indiana. Once at their assigned district, the new troopers will spend the next three months working side by side with a series of experienced Field Training Officers (FTO). The purpose of the field training is to put to practical application the training received over the duration of the formal academy training. Upon successful completion of field training, the new troopers will be assigned a state police patrol vehicle and will begin solo patrol in their assigned district.

12/20/18

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Introducing Liberty and Justice, the newest Virginia State Police K-9s

VSP new K 9s

Introducing Liberty and Justice, the newest Virginia State Police K-9s. After more than 3,300 name suggestions, state police announced the named for the Bloodhound pups last Thursday morning. This comes after the department asked the public to help name their newest brother-sister recruits. “These four-legged crime fighters are ready to start school in March, and we can’t wait to bring you updates on their progress,” Virginia State Police wrote on Facebook. The siblings will be trained to become search dogs.

12/20/18

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Kansas Highway Patrol graduates 24 new troopers

 KHP December 2018 graduation

Thursday, December 13, at the Kansas Highway Patrol Training Academy in Salina, the 24 newest Kansas state troopers graduated from their 23 weeks of classroom training. They will now move on to their counties of residence and begin training with their field training officers.  Class #58 and their family members spent much of the morning together at the training academy, going through family programs and a program for the spouses. At 1:00 graduation began as the class entered the auditorium with a cadence. “We are proud of the accomplishments of our new troopers so far,” said Colonel Mark Bruce, Superintendent of the Patrol. “They still have much to learn as they apply their academy knowledge to working the road with a field training officer. Today we gladly welcome them and their families into the Kansas Highway Patrol.”  Throughout their time at the training academy, recruits have gone through classroom and practical training. They have learned accident investigation techniques; testing of impaired drivers; Kansas laws and statutes; among many other things. They have practiced car stops; at the firing range; defensive tactics; testing for DUI; and other critical training components that they will need to incorporate as they are on their own out on the road. One milestone for KHP Class #58 is that this class has the largest number of female graduates (4) of any of the KHP’s recruit classes.

12/17/18

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Iowa State Patrol Colonel to retire

Iowa State Police Colonel retiring

The leader of the Iowa State Patrol is retiring after a 32-year career with the force. The service retirement of Col. Michael Van Berkum was approved Monday and will be effective in January.  He had been the patrol's chief since 2015.  In a statement to The Associated Press, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Roxann Ryan says Iowans should thank Van Berkum for his decades of service.  She says he embodies the best of the patrol - "leadership, integrity and dedicated service for the public good.  In announcing his retirement Ritzman said, “It has been the honor and privilege of my life to serve the men and women of the Iowa State Patrol as their colonel.  In my eyes, there is no finer group of troopers or people.”  "Ryan has not named a replacement for Van Berkum, but the department says more information will be released when he retires next week.

12/12/18

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Florida Highway Patrol trooper struck by vehicle

FHP trooper struck by car

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper was seriously injured after being struck and tossed in the air by a spinning, out-of-control car along a busy interstate Monday -- just seconds after the trooper pushed another man out of harm's way. The Florida Highway Patrol said Trooper Mithil Patel, 31, was standing on the side of Interstate 95 north of West Palm Beach as part of an accident investigation. As Patel was on the side of the road a truck ran into the back of a black Audi in a nearby lane, sending the vehicle spinning out of control towards the trooper. Video of the terrifying incident was captured by CBS12, which was covering the original accident. Patel then pushed another man to the side before Patel was struck by the vehicle. The man Patel pushed out of the way, Rony Bottex, told WPTV he hasn't stopped praying for the trooper who saved his life. "If he wasn't there, if the officer wasn't there, I'd be dead," Bottex told the television station. Patel was taken to St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach and was reported to be in good condition, according to CBS12. While authorities said the crash remains under investigation, they also stressed motorists should always remain cautious when first responders are tending to incidents on roadways.

To watch video, go to: http://bit.ly/2BMpPO3.  

WARNING: viewer discretion is advised.

12/5/18

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Tennessee Highway Patrol donates supplies to Bay County in Florida

 

Two semi trucks full of donations rolled into the Bay County, Florida Highway Patrol headquarters Tuesday morning. The Tennessee Highway Patrol along with members of the Tennessee department of transportation, drove down plenty of needed items for individuals impacted by Hurricane Michael.  Items include food, water, cleaning supplies, hygiene products and blankets. Tennessee Highway Patrol Lieutenant, John Harmon, said after seeing the damage first hand, its unreal— and they're glad they can help. "We Knew you still needed help, and so we contacted our brother agency, The Florida Highway Patrol, to see if that need was still here. They said it was and we asked them if we could help them and they told us exactly what the communities needed," said Harmon.  FHP thanked them for their donation by presenting the Tennessee officers with a Florida flag signed by Florida officers. FHP said they plan to distribute these donations to local food banks and non-profit groups.

12/4/18

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Texas Department of Public Safety welcomes 92 new highway patrol troopers

Texas DPS December 2018 graduation

The Texas Public Safety Commission welcomes 92 new highway patrol troopers Sunday. “Law enforcement officers have the opportunity and privilege to change people’s lives, and to serve as an inspiration and a positive influence to others — both on and off duty,” said PSC Chairman Steven P. Mach. “As you embark on your new career as a Trooper, you will no doubt make a difference in the lives of countless Texans as you protect and serve them.” This marks the 164th recruit school, which includes 11 women, 20 former law enforcement officers and 29 military veterans. The oldest graduate is 51-years-old and the youngest is 21-years-old. “Today you join an elite group of law enforcement professionals, and we are confident that you will uphold the traditions and values of both DPS and the Texas Highway Patrol,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “It takes extreme courage to risk your own safety in order to protect the safety of others. We thank you all for answering the call to serve and protect your fellow Texans, and we are proud to be welcoming each of you to the DPS family.” The state’s newest troopers will report to duty stations across Texas to spend the first sixth months in on-the-job training. The troopers underwent 26 weeks of training. Instruction included a variety of subjects including counterterrorism, criminal law and Spanish. They also received training in the use of force, firearms, and physical fitness.

12/4/18

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