North Carolina troopers surprise widow of crash victim


On Thursday, October 26, 2017, at approximately 0647 hours, Robert Vermillion was involved in a multi-vehicle fatal when his car went through the guard wires of I-485 near Rocky River Road and entered the opposite direction of interstate traffic.  Robert was killed instantly.  Trp. Kevin Robinson and myself drove to the home of the Vermillion Family.  They live(d) in a two bedroom home with six members of their family.  Jennifer (spouse), a twelve month old son, a 2 ½ year old daughter, Jennifer’s mother and grandmother.  We delivered the terrible news then left.  Later that same evening, I called Trp. Robinson and told him we have to do something for this family.  We both then put together a campaign to raise funds and raised over $5,600 in cash as well as gift cards, clothes, shoes, etc.  We hope that this little bit of help will go a long way in providing for the Vermillion Family through the holiday season.

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Wounded state trooper released from hospital

PSP trooper released from hospital

Cpl. Seth Kelly, a state trooper wounded during a gun battle Nov. 7 in Plainfield Township, has been released from the hospital, state police confirmed.  Kelly was released Friday afternoon from St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill, said Capt. Richard D’Ambrosio, commander of the Troop M barracks where Kelly works.  Kelly was moved from the hospital’s intensive care unit last week where he was recovering from gunshot wounds to his neck, shoulder and thigh, authorities said.  The 13-year veteran of the state police still has a lengthy recovery before him, authorities said.  Kelly was one of two troopers involved in a traffic stop along Route 33.  During the stop, the man charged in Kelly's shooting, Daniel Clary, 22, of Monroe County, fought with troopers, trying to grab one trooper’s handgun from the holster and then dashing to his car, where he grabbed a gun and opened fire, state police said.  Troopers returned fire and Clary also was shot several times.  Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said the troopers’ use of force was justified and Kelly and Trooper Ryan Seiple showed restraint during the incident.  Authorities said Kelly likely saved his own life by applying a tourniquet to his wounds to stem his blood loss.  Clary remains in jail under $1 million bail, awaiting trial on charges that include two counts of attempted murder of a police officer.



Nevada Department of Public Safety announces new Nevada Highway Patrol Colonel

NHP New Colonel

The Nevada Department of Public Safety Director James Wright announced the appointment of John O’Rourke as Colonel of the Nevada Highway Patrol. O’Rourke has been the NHP Acting Colonel for the past several months following the retirement of Colonel Dennis Osborn.  He will officially assume the title of Colonel on Monday, December 4, 2017.  “Colonel O’Rourke brings vast knowledge and experience to the position, having served in two Divisions and in multiple capacities with the Department,” DPS Director Wright said.  Colonel O’Rourke has served for over 20 years with the DPS, joining the Highway Patrol Division in 1995.  As a Trooper, O’Rourke was active in impaired driving apprehension, field training and motorcycle programs, field sobriety test instruction, and defensive tactics instruction.  His numerous assignments have included Deputy Chief with the Parole and Probation Division, Commander with the Honor Guard and Lieutenant Colonel with the Highway Patrol.   O'Rourke was the first NHP Trooper to be awarded the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Mountain Pacific Trooper of the Year.  He is also a James D. Hoff Meritorious Service Award and Gold Star Medal of Valor recipient.  “It is a privilege and honor to serve as Colonel alongside the men and women of the NHP,” Colonel O’Rourke said. “We will continue to make safety a priority for residents and visitors on Nevada highways and in our state.”



Michigan State Police graduates 127 new troopers

Michigan State Police December graduates

Michigan has 127 new state troopers.  The large group graduated from the 133rd Trooper Recruit School on Thursday. Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP, administered the Oath of Office during the ceremony at the Lansing Center.  “These men and women have chosen a very rewarding career,” said graduation keynote speaker, Gov. Rick Snyder.  “We wish our newest troopers safety each day.  Thank you for dedicating your life to serving and protecting the residents of our great state.”  In her address to the graduates, MSP Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue said, “I know you chose this career to help people and to keep communities safe.  Strive every day to make a positive impact in the lives of the citizens we serve.”  The 133rd Trooper Recruit School began on June 4 when 160 prospective troopers reported to the MSP Training Academy in Lansing.  For the past 26 weeks, recruits received training in firearms, water safety, defensive tactics, patrol techniques, report writing, ethics, first aid, criminal law, crime scene processing and precision driving.  



California Highway Patrol makes 66 DUI arrests during holiday maximum enforcement period

CHP DUI arrests

The California Highway Patrol says 66 people have been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving over the Thanksgiving holiday.  The DUI arrests were made between November 22 at 6 p.m. and November 26 at 6 a.m., according to CHP.  The number is up slightly from this time last year when 52 arrests were made over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Statewide, CHP has made 965 DUI arrests, up from 768 over Thanksgiving in 2016.  The arrests were made as part of the state’s holiday maximum enforcement period.  During the period, all available officers were deployed to catch drunken or drug-impaired drivers as well as speeders and other traffic violators.  The maximum enforcement period lasts until Sunday at 11:59 p.m.



Highway Patrol Sergeant nearly killed in collision is happy to be back on the road

Montana HP Sergeant returns to work after 8 months

Sgt. Scott Bennett still has difficulties descending stairs — “my ankle just doesn’t want to bend that way” — but he’s back in his uniform and in his new Montana Highway Patrol car, off of light desk duty and onto the streets.  The road that led to his recovery lasted a long eight months for Bennett, who was injured in a head-on crash on U.S. Highway 93 by an alleged impaired driver during a snowstorm March 8.  Bennett was driving northbound and a Dodge Intrepid driven southbound by David Deshazo slid out of control about 6 a.m. and into the northbound lane on a curve.  Deshazo, 44, is charged with two felonies — negligent vehicular assault and criminal endangerment — relating to the accident.  Not only does the moment of impact replay in Bennett’s head, he’s watched it a few times on the video captured on his patrol car camera.  “The camera was by my head,” he says, holding his right hand near his eye, “so the video is exactly what I saw.  Every time I watch it, or think about it, I cringe.  It was a snowstorm, and I just see this car coming at me.”  When the crash occurred, his right foot was pushing down hard on the brake pedal, and the engine came through the firewall into the passenger compartment, breaking his right tibia and fibia, and shattering other bones into pieces. He slumped over into the passenger seat after the impact, but didn’t lose consciousness. In the Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital’s emergency room, Bennett was in so much pain he begged for doctors to take his right leg off.  He endured three surgeries, which involved inserting plates, screws and cadaver bones in his leg.  At one point, he wore an “external fixator” that consisted of bolts through his ankle and a metal external plate that immobilized it.  Bennett spent the first few weeks in a haze, lying on his couch, consuming pain pills and keeping the ankle elevated with ice on it.  He watched movies, dozed, and tried not to think that his 17-year career could be finished.  “It would be easy to give up; I could have taken medical retirement, but I didn’t want to go that route,” Bennett recalled.  “In this career, you identify as a person — it’s kind of who you are — as a law enforcement officer.  It doesn’t stop when you get off shift.  “Because of the extent of the damage, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to come back to full duty.  You have to run, jump and fight, things that involve a lot of physical activity.  I wasn’t sure I’d get back.”  He went to physical therapy, but also returned to his lifelong love of lifting weights.  At first, he went to the gym once a week, then twice a week, then three times. The workouts started lightly, then he added more weight.  Bennett laughs, recalling how he would have to push down on his right leg to accelerate his vehicle to get to the gym.  “Luckily, it wasn’t too far, and I could use my left leg to brake,” he said.  After five months of what he called an excruciating period of time, he was allowed back on light duty status.  That meant paperwork at his desk, out of uniform, and without a marked MHP vehicle.  “It was very frustrating,” he recalled.  “I would be in the office, maybe approving reports, but across the scanner would come a nearby call and I couldn’t run on it.”  A few short weeks ago, his doctor cleared him for patrol duty.  He’s got a new vehicle, the old uniform, and new boots.  His old rig was totaled in the accident and his duty boots were cut off.  His supervisor, Sgt. Jim Kitchin, is thrilled to have Bennett return.  He notes that with only 242 officers statewide, anytime one is off the streets it’s felt throughout the ranks.  Along with having to move people around to cover shifts, it limits their opportunities to do proactive policing.  “Sgt. Bennett is one of the sergeants that we like to have on the road, and he likes to be out there working with his team,” Kitchin said.  “Having him back is great.”  Bennett knows he’ll never be the same. He’s expected to have severe arthritis in his right ankle as he ages.  He’s still in a lot of discomfort, and the accident limits some physical activities, like racquetball.  But he feels he is close to the end of his road to recovery.  “I’m adapting to my new reality,” Bennett said.  “But it’s good to be back.  I’ve been to a couple of crashes, have made some traffic stops, and even just finished making an arrest.  I’m still in the office doing paperwork a lot, because that’s part of my job, but it’s good to be back.”



Texas Trooper killed in line of duty


Trooper Damon Allen was shot and killed while making a traffic stop on I-45 in Freestone County, just south of Fairfield, at approximately 4:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day.  He had contacted the driver and was returning to his patrol car when the man exited his car and opened fire with a rifle.  Trooper Allen was killed at the scene.  The man was located in Waller County several hours later and taken into custody after exchanging shots with officers.  Trooper Allen had served with the Texas Highway Patrol for 15 years.  He is survived by his wife and three children.



Governor Baker names Kerry Gilpin new Massachusetts State Police Superintendent

MSP New Colonel

Kerry A. Gilpin, a 23-year State Police veteran who turned to a career in law enforcement after the murder of her sister, took command of the 2,200-person force on Wednesday, a day after her predecessor and his top deputy abruptly retired amid a scandal over an altered police report.  In a closed door ceremony at his office, Governor Charlie Baker swore in Gilpin, 47, a major who previously served as deputy division commander of the Division of Standards and Training, which oversees internal affairs as well as the State Police training academy.  “It is the mission of the Massachusetts State Police to keep the Commonwealth safe and I have the utmost confidence that Colonel Gilpin will excel as the leader of our tremendous police force,” said Baker in a statement.  “Colonel Gilpin brings decades of experience and knowledge to her post, with a deep understanding of the State Police force at every level.”



North Dakota Highway Patrol switching from white to black vehicles

NDHP changing vehicles

After more than 20 years, North Dakota Highway Patrol's white vehicles are being replaced with black ones, with the thought that they will sell for more at auction.  "Every year we have patrol cars hit out there and it's usually during those days where we have low visibility during those snow events we have going on in North Dakota,” said Niewind  The NDHP has started switching their fleet from white to black, saying safety is one of the reasons.  "There's reflective markings on both the passenger and driver side of the vehicle, and then on the rear of that vehicle. So as traffic is coming up on that with their headlights on at night, our cars light up like a railroad vehicle, or a fire truck or ambulance,” said Niewind.  Niewind hopes the new reflectors ends the trend of cars getting hit.  The Highway Patrol says it will take about four years for the entire fleet to be changed to black.




Florida Highway Patrol Trooper seriously injured in crash leaves hospital

FHP Crash Andy Ong

A Florida Highway Patrol injured in a crash last month on Interstate 95 in Lantana has been released from a hospital, a spokesman for FHP said.  Trooper Andy Ong was released Friday from Delray Medical Center, Sgt. Mark Wysocky said.  Ong, 51, is still recovering from serious injuries from the Oct. 1 crash and a GoFundMe online fundraising page has been created to help pay for his expenses.  On the day of the injury, the trooper was standing on the shoulder of the highway near the rear of his patrol vehicle, pointing a speed-measuring device, when the driver of a Honda Accord heading north near Hypoluxo Road changed lanes and hit a Ford Focus.  The driver of the Ford lost control and slammed into Ong and his patrol car.  Ong, a Palm Beach County resident, had several surgeries while in the hospital.  The driver of the Honda, 31-year-old Aliz Beauplan of Boynton Beach, and the driver of the Ford, 27-year-old Amanda Winnegar of Palm Springs, were taken to JFK Medical Center in Atlantis with minor injuries.  The crash remains under investigation and no charges have filed, Wysocky said.



Tennessee Trooper Rescues Driver Impaled by Deer Antler

THP Trooper saves life

A Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper sent to the scene of a Nashville area car crash is credited with saving the life of a driver whose neck was punctured by an antler of a deer that went through her windshield.  When Trooper Russell Bernard arrived at the scene, the driver of the crashed car was bleeding heavily from a large puncture wound in her neck, according to a news release from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.  Bernard applied pressure to the wound until emergency medical services personnel arrived.  The deer had been hit by another vehicle and thrown through the victim's windshield.  Its antlers also punctured the driver's seat, according to the release.  "I commend Trooper Bernard for taking swift action to save the life of the injured driver," THP Colonel Tracy Trott said.  "Trooper Bernard was able to apply his cadet training and respond quickly using the proper technique and protocol.  I am proud of the work we do every day to save lives on our Tennessee roadways."  The driver, who had a torn artery, was taken by EMS personnel to a Dickson, Tenn., hospital and later flown to Skyline Hospital in Nashville for emergency surgery, the release states.



Wyoming Highway Patrol graduates 8 troopers

WHP November 2017 graduation

The Wyoming Highway Patrol recently commissioned eight recruits to the rank of Trooper upon the completion of their intensive training academy.  During their academy, the new Troopers were instructed in a variety of classes including firearms, commercial carrier, physical training, RADAR/LIDAR, emergency vehicle operation, custody and control, crash investigation and other pertinent training.  The members of Class 93 that were new to law enforcement participated in over 1,210 hours of academy training.  Being a State Trooper for the Wyoming Highway Patrol can be a challenging, yet rewarding career as it takes a special person to become a Wyoming State Trooper. All Troopers take an oath to protect and serve all citizens of this great state with courtesy, professionalism, and integrity as Wyoming’s Troopers represent the agency brand of “Guardians of the Cowboy State”.  The new Troopers participated in their swearing-in ceremony in front of family and friends at the Wyoming Supreme Court on Nov. 2nd.  The ceremony marked the 93rd graduated Wyoming Highway Patrol Academy.



Texas Senior Trooper killed in line of duty

End of Watch Texas Trooper

Senior Trooper Tom Nipper killed in a vehicle crash while conducting a traffic stop on southbound I-35, near Midway Drive, in Temple.  He was sitting in his patrol car during the stop when it was struck from behind by a pickup truck.  The impact caused the patrol car to strike the stopped vehicle and Trooper Nipper.  He was transported to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries.  Trooper Nipper had served with the Texas Highway Patrol for almost 35 years.  He is survived by his wife and three children.



Washington State Patrol graduates 39 troopers

WSP November 2017 graduation

Thirty-nine state troopers were sworn in Thursday at a ceremony in Olympia, officially beginning their service.  Governor Jay Inslee and Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste recognized the cadets at the swearing-in ceremony.  “Twenty-six weeks of training has prepared you for the moment that has led you to stand before us today,” said Batiste.  Cadets train for over 1,000 hours in defensive driving, firearms management and how to interact with the public.  “You are the recipients of the best training of any law enforcement agency in the United States,” said Inslee.  The Washington State Patrol Academy produces approximately three cadet classes each biennium, accounting for about 100 to 120 new troopers.  Only about four to six percent of the total number of applicants makes the grade to become state troopers.



Fallen South Carolina trooper laid to rest after he 'accomplished his mission'

SCHP Funeral of trooper killed in line of duty

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety mourned the death of trooper Daniel Keith Rebman, Jr. who was buried Sunday in Greenville.  The funeral services were held at Bob Jones University, and graveside services were held at Woodlawn Cemetery.  Rebman died after his patrol vehicle was struck early in the morning on Oct. 24.  He is the 51st state trooper to die serving the state of South Carolina, according to the SCDPS.  “Tuesday was a reminder that while – yes, we are strong – we are not invincible,” SCDPS director Leroy Smith said in a news release.  “We too are subject to the same forces of nature, accidents and violence – just like those we protect.  I believe that is why ‘Blessed Are the Peacemakers’ is such a comforting verse at a time like this.  It is these special people – the peacemakers – who are so blessed because they risk their lives for you, and me and for strangers.  Trooper Rebman was doing just that on October 24, 2017.”  Rebman, 31, died from injuries sustained in a line-of-duty collision.  Rebman was stationary in his Patrol vehicle in the emergency lane of I-385 near Bridges Road when his Ford Taurus Patrol car was struck from behind by a pick-up truck around 12:23 a.m., according to the SCDPS.  Private visitation services were held Saturday for family and friends of Rebman, who is survived by his wife, Michelle, and three young daughters – Olivia, Charlee, and Kennedy.  Rebman always desired to serve his community, and shortly after moving to Greenville in 2011 he began to pursue a career in law enforcement, according to his obituary posted by the Mackey Mortuary.  After serving as a dispatcher for the Highway Patrol for 4 years, he graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy in 2016, at which time he was awarded the Captain Cecil Dilworth Marksmanship Award.  Rebman joined South Carolina Highway Patrol in September 2016.  The Orlando, Fla. native began his career in Troop Six/Charleston/Berkeley before being transferred to Troop Three/Greenville.  “He believed in his mission and he accomplished his mission,” Smith said of Rebman, who was given full honors by the South Carolina Highway Patrol.  “And for that, the state of South Carolina says a humble and grateful ‘job well done, Trooper Rebman.’ ”  Members from more than 15 state patrols from as far away as California came to pay their respects along with hundreds of state and local officers.  “Trooper Rebman died as he lived – a quiet hero – to his family, to his fellow troopers, to his church, and to his community,” SCHP Col. Chris Williamson said in a news release.  “Trooper Rebman’s death was a cruel reminder that this job doesn’t come with promises or reassurances.  But I want to remind our men and women in uniform that even through this sense of tremendous heartache and loss, we must continue to lean on each other and assume the watch from this point forward.”  “Trooper Rebman died as he lived – a quiet hero – to his family, to his fellow troopers, to his church, and to his community,” SCHP Col. Chris Williamson said in a news release. “Trooper Rebman’s death was a cruel reminder that this job doesn’t come with promises or reassurances. But I want to remind our men and women in uniform that even through this sense of tremendous heartache and loss, we must continue to lean on each other and assume the watch from this point forward.”    Michelle Rebman shared an example of law enforcement rallying around the family of their fallen brother.  She posted a picture on Facebook Saturday of a fellow trooper sitting on the grass with one of Rebman’s daughters.  In addition to his wife and children, Rebman is survived by his parents, Daniel and Theresa Rebman, of Georgia, a sister and many extended family.