Amid officer remembrances, respect is urged for move-over law
Monday, May 15 is not only National Peace Officers Memorial Day, according to the Ohio Turnpike Commission, it is also the 17th anniversary of the death of Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper Robert Perez from a turnpike accident. Perez died three days after his cruiser was struck from behind by a minivan while he was writing a citation on the Ohio Turnpike in Erie County near the US 250 exit on May 12, 2000. The driver who struck the trooper's cruiser was high on amphetamines, according to state officials, and was doing 83 miles per hour. Perez was 24 years old and lived in Lorain. The Ohio Turnpike Commission and the Ohio State Highway Patrol are asking motorists to help keep their fellow drivers and law enforcement officers safe by following Ohio's Move Over law. From 2012-2016, OSHP cruisers were involved in 73 crashes that appear to be related to the move over law, according to the patrol. These crashes resulted in the deaths of two civilians, 24 injured officers and 32 injured civilians. "By moving over, motorists are helping to protect the lives of everyone who works on or uses our roadways," said Lt. Richard Reeder of the OSHP's Milan Post. "It's not just the law -- it's the right thing to do to prevent the type of tragedy that befell the Perez family." Trooper Kenneth Velez was killed on Interstate 90 in Cleveland last September when he was hit by a car. The suspect, charged with driving under the influence and two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, is set for trial in July in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. Cleveland police officer David Fahey was killed under similar circumstances in January. The driver accused of causing Fahey's death faces pretrial on similar charges May 16 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. The deaths have led two Ohio legislators to call for stiffer penaltiesfor drivers who fail to heed Ohio's move over law. National Peace Officers Memorial Day on Monday coincides with the 32nd annual Greater Cleveland Peace Officers Memorial Society commemoration, May 13-21, and National Police Week.
LCSO, FHP conduct operation to crack down on pedestrian injures, fatalities
Reflective vests, wristbands and educational flyers were a few of the items troopers were handing out to pedestrians on Thursday. The effort, conducted by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Highway Patrol, was to decrease the amount of pedestrian injuries and deaths on roadways. The operation, took place along Palm Beach Boulevard. “If you’re riding your bike you’re out here to do so for exercise or for leisure or what have you and you shouldn’t be exposed to injury or death at that point,” Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Gregory Bueno said. Over 270 pedestrian and bicycle crashes in Lee County last year involved injuries, and 19 of those crashes were fatal, troopers said. Most of the collisions took place near U.S. 41., Bayshore Road, Palm Beach Boulevard, Lee Boulevard and Estero Boulevard. Troopers provided the following safety tips for pedestrians:
- Use designated walking areas whenever possible walk on sidewalks and in crosswalks whenever possible.
- Pay attention to walk signals and keep a safe distance when standing on street corners.
- Be sure to be seen be careful of blind spots when walking near or around a vehicle.
- Assume the driver does not see you.
- Proceed with caution when crossing intersections and streets.
- Stand out wear bright or reflective clothing, especially when walking in the dark. Carry a flashlight, too, for added protection.
New Hampshire officers rescue cub too weak to keep up with mother bear
According to state police, someone reported that a mother bear and four cubs were on the road near Bretton Woods Ski resort. Trooper Thomas Owens responded with Carroll police to make sure the cubs were safe. Officials said three of the cubs were strong and could run with the mother, but one was very small and weak. State police, along with New Hampshire Fish and Game officers, decided to remove the small cub to bring it to a rehabilitation center in Lyme. Carroll police said the mother bear had another one of her cubs picked up by officers on Wednesday. Officials said the cubs will be released into the wild when they grow strong enough. State police reminded the public to keep bears wild by avoiding feeding them human food (even if they are adorable). Anyone who runs into a wildlife issue is asked to contact local police or New Hampshire Fish and Game.
Indiana State Police Post at Lowell holds annual memorial service
The Indiana State Police Post at Lowell held their annual memorial service Thursday to honor those members of the department who gave their lives in the line of duty. Troopers were brought to attention and prepared for roll call by Lowell District Assistant Commander First Sergeant Terrance Weems. Opening prayer was given by Indiana State Police Chaplain Coffey. Members of the Indiana State Police Honor Guard then displayed the national and state flags as Captain Dave Kirkham, Area 1 Commander and Lieutenant Terry Gose, Commander of the Lowell District read each fallen member's name, along with a description of the circumstances surrounding their death. After reading the names of the fallen officers, "Amazing Grace" was played on bagpipes by Lake County Pipes and Drums. The ceremony was concluded with the playing of "Taps" by Indiana State Police Sergeant Brian Schnick. The closing benediction was given by ISP Chaplain Warren. Other attendees included ISP Assistant Superintendent Colonel Mark French and other members of the ISP Primary Staff, retires and family and friends of ISP personnel. The meal was provided by Larry Fegaras of Galveston's Restaurant (Michigan City) and the Indiana State Police Alliance. A total of 46 members of the Indiana State Police, both men and women, have died in the line of duty since the department's inception in 1933. Since the early days of the Indiana State Police, memorial services have been held each May at all Indiana State Police districts to perpetuate the memory of those who have died in the line of duty. The service serves as a means of paying tribute to those who died in the line of duty, that their sacrifice was not made in vain, and as a reminder to those of us left behind that we should strive to maintain the level of professional service to the public that our departed comrades so unselfishly gave their lives for. The first ever memorial service was held on Memorial Day 1943 at the former Ligonier Post in northern Indiana.
New York State Police welcome newest troopers Wednesday
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo congratulated the 192 new members of the State Police at the 205th session graduation ceremony from the Basic School of the New York State Police Academy. "These new Troopers have dedicated themselves to protecting the people of New York State," Governor Cuomo said. "I commend these men and women for their hard work over the last 26 weeks and wish them luck as they start their careers and continue the fine tradition of the New York State Police. Our state is safer with these members joining the ranks and enforcing our laws." "Six months ago these outstanding men and women answered the call to serve, and after the rigors of training they are ready to join one of the finest law enforcement agencies in the world," said Lieutenant Governor Hochul, who attended the graduation ceremony. "This class chose the motto ‘100 Years We Thrive, We are the 205’ in recognition of the 100 years that the NY State Police have been serving the citizens of this state. I’m honored to take part in today’s commencement, and wish all the graduates the very best as they enter this noble profession." Superintendent George P. Beach II said, "Today marks another significant moment in the proud 100 year history of the New York State Police. The graduation ceremony is one of our finest traditions and introduces a new generation of highly trained men and women, who will serve the citizens of the State of New York with honor and integrity. I am proud to welcome these graduates to our ranks."
State Police make traffic stop, find $1.5 million worth of drugs
State police seized 33 pounds of heroin and two men from Utah were arrested after a traffic stop in Western Kentucky on Monday night. State police said they stopped a tractor-trailer for a commercial vehicle inspection on Interstate 24 in Lyon County at 7:22 p.m., and one of the two men in the truck had a small amount of heroin on him. When troopers searched the rest of the vehicle, they found the 33 pounds of heroin, which has an estimated street value of $1.5 million.
More than 1,000 ticketed during Illinois State Police distracted-driving blitz
If drivers didn’t know then, they should have heard by now that last week was distracted driver awareness week. And police around the state issued tickets. Lots of tickets. Illinois State Police said from April 24-28, troopers statewide issued 1,146 distracted-driving tickets and 984 distracted-driving warnings. It wasn’t just about writing tickets. Troopers and police also wanted to raise awareness about the dangers of driving while distracted. “I am extremely proud of the enforcement efforts by the ISP. Our officers proudly represented the ISP in this statewide campaign,” said ISP Col. Tad Williams. “Additionally, our Safety Education Officers did a great job educating the motoring public through a number of press conferences, media releases and multitude of social media contacts.” The use of cell phones for all drivers, regardless of age, while operating a vehicle in a school zone or construction zone is prohibited under Illinois law. Using a cell phone to text, compose, read or send electronic messages or access the Internet while driving is illegal. The violation for the first offense is $120 and can increase with multiple violations or when a violation occurs in a work or school zone. Texting and driving is a choice that requires drivers to take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and mind off the task of driving, according to state police. Illinois State Police have been asking all motorists to “Drop it and Drive.” Swansea and Fairview Heights police also conducted a recent crackdown aimed at distracted driving. In two hours on April 27, Swansea and Fairview Heights officers set up on the corner of Illinois 159 and Frank Scott Parkway — a spot that has seen 65 accidents since 2015. An officer on a grassy corner set up with binoculars, looking for drivers on their phones, while officers in their cars stopped the offending drivers. In two hours, the task force issued 39 tickets.
South Carolina Highway Patrol names first female Captain
The South Carolina Highway Patrol has named its first ever female captain. The agency announced Friday that Tara Laffin has been promoted to her new rank. She succeeds Capt. E.J. Talbot, who recently announced his retirement after 27 years with the department. In her new role, she'll be the commander of the highway patrol's training division. "This is an exciting and historical day for the South Carolina Highway Patrol as we not only name the first female captain, but we have an opportunity to promote a strong and forward-thinking leader for this key unit in our agency,” said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith. “Capt. Laffin has spent her entire career with the Highway Patrol, including four years in the Training Unit. Capt. Talbot has done an outstanding job and we look forward to continuing this tradition of excellence in Training.” Laffin has been with the highway patrol for 22 years. She's most recently served as lieutenant in the Emergency Management Unit, which leads the state’s traffic response during hurricanes and other large-scale disasters. From 2007-2011, she served in the HP Training Unit as a sergeant and corporal. Prior to that, she served as a corporal in Lexington County. Capt. Laffin began her career with SCHP in 1994 in Dillon County and worked as a road trooper in Kershaw and Richland Counties.
New Mexico graduates two dozen new officers
The state has two dozen new State Police officers. The department celebrated the graduation of 24 cadets Friday morning at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. The 91st recruit class spent the last 22 weeks training, and Friday they stood up taking the oath, receiving their certificates, and finally becoming State Police officers. “It makes it worth being a part of, you know, the tradition, pride and honor that we have is highly upheld,” said Allan Ramirez, NMSP graduate. Earlier this year, State Police told KRQE News 13 they were about 100 officers short.
New look for Pennsylvania State Police cars
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The color and design of Pennsylvania State Police patrol cars has stayed the same for the past 26 years...but a change is underway. Like most businesses and organizations, the State Police have undergone a re-branding strategy. The emphasis being on the men and women who wear the State Police uniform, and the uniform itself. The new color is sterling gray. It's easy to notice that the cars now match the color of the state police uniform. The new patrol cars also have the word "TROOPER" in enlarged letters along the side panels. An internal committee, comprised of employees from throughout the agency, believes the color gray has historically been associated with the Pennsylvania State Police. The committee also hopes that people will feel a sense of professionalism and security when they see the gray car with the word "TROOPER" arrive at an emergency scene. The current white cars, with black and gold trim, will slowly be replaced as they hit higher mileage over the next three years. For that reason,there's only a few gray cars on the road right now. The first one to be delivered to Erie County, last week, went to the Troop "E" recruiting officer. "It's a push for public relations. They are the eye of the State Police. They're attending the job fairs. They're in the public more often to get that image out quickly. That's why they administered those to them first,"said Tpr. Cindy Owens, PSP-Erie Community Service Officer. There was no extra cost for State Police to purchase a gray vehicle over a white one. The new cars do have extra reflective material on them that the old vehicles do not have. That material costs $67 dollars per car.
Man found guilty after largest Meth bust in Arkansas history
A federal jury found a California truck driver guilty Thursday after he was found with millions of dollars worth of meth during a traffic stop in Arkansas in 2015. A federal jury found Javier Leon, 56, of Moreno Valley, Calif., guilty of Possessing With the Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine in a case that involved the largest amount of methamphetamine ever seized in Arkansas. Law enforcement found more than 260 pounds of meth — worth millions of dollars — in the back of Leon’s tractor-trailer while he was traveling through Lonoke in 2015. Leon will be sentenced at a later date. “This seizure had enough methamphetamine to supply every man, woman, and child in Little Rock,” Patrick C. Harris, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, said. “Thanks to the efforts of several law enforcement agencies and agents, this significant amount of methamphetamine will never hit the streets, and never poison our communities. This jury verdict makes clear that whatever level of involvement you have with this drug—as a seller, user, or courier—there will be justice served and punishment delivered.” Testimony during the trial established that the 260 pounds of methamphetamine -- which was broken into smaller, individual-size portions -- could have been enough to serve more than 300,000 people, with a potential street value of $7 to $8 million. Leon owned his own 18-wheel tractor-trailer and drove for California furniture shipping company American West. On March 30, 2015, while heading east on Interstate 40, Leon pulled over and parked illegally on an exit ramp in Lonoke. Now-retired Arkansas State Police Corporal Olen Craig made contact with Leon, and the state police then searched the trailer after a drug-detection dog signaled drugs were present. Arkansas State Police Corporal Chase Melder located the meth, which included more than 22 pounds of powder meth and more than 240 pounds of liquid meth, amongst a load of furniture destined for Alabama and the Atlanta area. The liquid meth was contained in multiple five-gallon plastic jugs, similar to the type of jugs used with water coolers. “Stopping drug traffickers traveling across Arkansas highways is a priority for state troopers, particularly the department’s criminal interdiction unit,” Colonel William J. Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police, said. “This case represents a major victory in stopping illegal drugs from getting to a destination and our troopers are committed to staying in the fight.” The DEA became involved in the case following the seizure and continued to investigate Leon. In addition to the guilty verdict, the jury found that the 18-wheel tractor-trailer is to be forfeited. “The federal conviction of Javier Leon sends a strong message to criminals that we take methamphetamine trafficking very seriously in the Eastern District of Arkansas,” Matthew Barden, Assistant Special Agent in Charge with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said. “The DEA will continue working with our law enforcement partners and pursue those who threaten our communities with the distribution of methamphetamine and other illegal and dangerous drugs.” The statutory penalty for possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine is not less than 10 years’ imprisonment, not more than life, a $10,000,000 fine, or both. The investigation was conducted by the DEA, Arkansas State Police, Little Rock Police Department, and Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office.
Drugged driving more fatal than drunk driving, report says
For the first time, data shows that drivers killed in car crashes in the United States were more likely to be on drugs than drunk, according a new report. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) released a study that found 43 percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes had drugs of any kind – prescription or illegal – in their system, compared to 37 percent who showed alcohol levels above the legal limit. The organizations say that concerns about drug-impaired driving have escalated recently, with more states legalizing marijuana and record numbers of people dying from drug overdoses amid the opioid epidemic. "Drugged driving has increased dramatically and many of today's impaired drivers are combining two or more substances, which has a multiplicative effect on driver impairment," Ralph. S. Blackman, president and CEO of Responsibility.org, a nonprofit funded by alcohol distillers, said in a statement. Of drivers killed in crashes who tested positive for drugs, 36.5 percent had used marijuana, followed by amphetamines at 9.3 percent, the report found. Researchers used the most recent U.S. state data available from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). The report calls for increased training for law enforcement to detect drivers who are on drugs – something that is complicated, police say. Unlike a Breathalyzer test to detect alcohol-impaired drivers, there is no standard roadside test to detect most drugs. "As states across the country continue to struggle with drug-impaired driving, it's critical that we help them understand the current landscape and provide examples of best practices so they can craft the most effective countermeasures," said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of GHSA. The report has several limitations, including that states vary greatly in how many and which drivers are tested, what tests are used, and how test results are reported. Furthermore, the records only record drug presence, not drug concentrations that can be compared to blood-alcohol levels. "Drugged driving is a complicated issue," said the report's author, Dr. Jim Hedlund, a former senior NHTSA official. "The more we can synthesize the latest research and share what's going on around the country to address drug-impaired driving, the better positioned states will be to prevent it."
Ceremony remembers fallen state troopers
George Nowakowski of Duryea retired from the Pennsylvania State Police in 1991, but as he watched the Pennsylvania State Police Memorial Day ceremony at his old barracks, he tearfully said he wished he were back in the line of duty. “I wish I was back,” he said, looking out over the current troop in their uniforms. “These guys are fabulous. They look beautiful and they do their job.” The annual ceremony honored state troopers, specifically those from Troop P, killed in the line of duty throughout the state police’s history. Troop P held their ceremony at its barracks on Wyoming Avenue, one of many held at state police barracks throughout the Commonwealth. Troop P covers Wyoming, Bradford, Sullivan and northern Luzerne counties. In addition to the fallen, the ceremony also honors active and retired members of the state police. “It’s a very nice ceremony. It makes me proud to be working for the Pennsylvania State Police,” said Christine Brewer, a clerk typist at the barracks. “You don’t realize day-to-day what they go through and it’s nice that we have these to honor the current and also our retired members.” The ceremony featured a roll call of the 10 members of Troop P who have fallen in the line of duty over the years, speakers and the laying of a wreath to commemorate the day. The ceremony allows active and retired troopers to remember those before them who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. For Nowakowski, coming back to recognize and remember those troopers often feels like a reunion with his old troop and fellow retired troopers. “It’s the greatest day in the world,” Nowakowski said. State police continue to mourn the loss of Trooper Landon Eugene Weaver, who was killed in December and honored statewide at Tuesday ceremonies. Weaver served with the state police for one year with Troop G in Bedford. He was the 97th member of the Pennsylvania State Police killed in the line of duty in the force’s 112 year history. “That memory is always in the back of our minds, we never really forget it,” Trooper Tom Kelly said. “Every day we go into work, we do our job, but a day like today brings that from the back of our mind to the forefront of our mind,” Kelly said the annual ceremony serves as a necessary reminder of the difficulties state troopers often face. “It’s good to keep that memory alive and not let what happened be forgotten,” Kelly said.
New Jersey State Police's 2016 Trooper of the Year
The New Jersey State Police is proud to announce that Tpr. I James Agens, of the Mobile Safe Freight Unit, is the 2016 Trooper of the Year as a result of his year-long patrol efforts, which led to the seizure of 79 kilograms of heroin and 10 kilograms of cocaine with a total estimated street value of $6.7 million. As a result of the nationwide heroin epidemic, Colonel Rick Fuentes directed State Police command to initiate a plan to detect and dismantle the bulk amount of heroin being transported to and through New Jersey. As part of this effort, Tpr. I Agens distinguished himself as a result of his diligent criminal patrol, bulk drug seizures, and unwavering dedication. On May 15, 2016, Tpr. I Agens stopped a tractor-trailer in Warren County for a safety inspection. During the stop, Tpr. I Agens detected evidence of criminal activity, which led to a search and subsequent seizure of 15 kilograms of heroin. On August 23, 2016, Tpr. I Agens was conducting a commercial vehicle safety inspection in Warren County when he once again detected evidence of criminal activity. As a result of his investigation, 64 kilograms of heroin and 10 kilograms of cocaine were seized. This is the largest cold-stop heroin seizure to date in U.S. history. Tpr. I Agens’ investigative efforts and skills are extraordinary. His efforts have brought great pride and distinction to himself and the Division of State Police. Tpr. I Agens’ commitment and dedication exemplify the core values of the New Jersey State Police: Honor, Duty, and Fidelity.
Oberle Elementary thanks state troopers with giant heart formation
Students and staff members at Oberle Elementary School in Bear gathered in the school parking lot on Monday to form a heart shape and say "thank you" to Delaware State Police troopers. The ceremony was part of a statewide outpouring of support in honor of Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard, who was killed in the line of duty last week. After the students arranged themselves in the shape of a heart, a teacher used a drone to photograph the formation from above. Students later delivered video from the event and handmade cards to troopers at Troop 2. Oberle is the second Christina School District school to pay tribute to Ballard. Last week, 600 Keene Elementary students walked to Troop 2 to lay flowers and thank troopers.