The Kentucky State Police Academy presented diplomas to 39 new troopers at ceremonies held in Frankfort Friday. Their addition to the force brings the agency’s strength to a total of 911 troopers serving the citizens of the Commonwealth. “I am pleased to welcome these 39 new troopers,” said KSP Commissioner Rick Sanders. “It’s been a long, hard road and they have paid their dues. They have earned that patch and that badge.” “Twenty-first century policing is a tough job,” he added. “These men and women have prepared to go out and be the best of the best as guardians of their communities.” The new troopers are part of the agency’s 94th cadet class. They reported for duty on May 22, 2016 in a class that consisted of 66 cadets. Twenty-seven resigned during the rigorous 23-week training cycle that followed. Six women started the program and four completed the training. The training included more than 1,000 hours of classroom and field study in subjects such as constitutional law, juvenile and traffic law, use of force, weapons training, defensive tactics, first aid, high speed vehicle pursuit, criminal investigation, computer literacy, hostage negotiations, evidence collection, radio procedures, search and seizure, crash investigation, drug identification, traffic control, crowd control, armed robbery response, land navigation, electronic crimes, sex crimes, hate crimes, domestic violence, bomb threats and hazardous materials. Several members of the class earned special recognitions including valedictorian Sarah Burgess, of Lexington, Ky., and salutatorian Joseph Kenny, of New Castle, Ky. William Pope, of Harlan, Ky., received the Ernie Bivens Award, an honor presented to the cadet who, in the opinion of the KSP Academy staff supported by input from the cadets themselves, shows distinction as a class leader, strives for academic excellence and has excelled in all phases of the academy’s physical and vocational training. Nicholas Brumback, of McKee, Ky., received the Commissioner’s Commitment to Excellence Award, which is presented to cadets who demonstrate leadership, the desire to get the job done and the determination to be the best every day. Jeremey Hamilton, of Danville, Ky., received the Overall Fitness Award. Three of the new troopers are from London. Lexington, Harlan and Stanford are each represented by two new troopers. Each new trooper will be supervised by a training officer for six to eight weeks after reporting to their post assignments.
Wisconsin Troopers presented heroism awards by Govenor
Four troopers with the Wisconsin State Patrol received awards in Madison Wednesday presented by Governor Scott Walker. Two of those troopers are with the Eau Claire Post. They received division awards for courageous actions and exemplary service. Trooper Bill Lindeman of Chippewa Falls attended the awards ceremony where he received a certificate and a pin. On November 18, 2015, Lindeman and Eau Claire County Sheriff's Deputy Dave Riewestahl responded to a call for a woman having a cardiac attack. "I got there and we started doing two person CPR until the fire department arrived," said Trooper Lindeman. Thanks to their efforts, the victim got a pulse back and started breathing before being transported to a hospital. Trooper Lindeman received a lifesaving award for assisting with a medical emergency. Trooper Bill Lindeman said he's honored to be recognized, and he hopes it shows people the importance of learning basic life-saving skills, such as CPR. "That's really what saves people's lives is that basic stuff at the start if somebody's trained. Getting that person to hang on until advanced life support gets there," said Trooper Bill Lindeman. Trooper Steven Wojcik of Strum wasn't able to attend the ceremony, but was recognized for his valiant attempt to save the life of an Osseo man with difficulty breathing in September 2016. While Wojcik did get a pulse back by doing CPR, the man died on the way to the hospital. The troopers were nominated for their efforts because of their compassion and dedication in attempting to save lives and showing courage during stressful conditions. They say they're just doing their jobs. "Happy to do it. I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to do something like that," said Trooper Lindeman.
Trooper Timothy Pratt was struck and killed by a vehicle while assisting a lost motorist on the 300 block of Ballard Road in Wilton, New York, at approximately 6:15 am. He was just beginning his shift when he observed a tractor trailer parked in the center turn lane in front of the state police barracks. After speaking to the driver and providing him directly, Trooper Pratt stepped off the cab of the truck. As he stepped onto the roadway he was struck by an oncoming vehicle. Trooper Pratt was transported to a local hospital before being flown to Albany Medical Center Hospital. He succumbed to his injuries approximately three hours after being struck. Trooper Pratt had served with the New York State Police for 29 years. He is survived by his daughter, two sons, and fiancee.
Florida Highway Patrol holds its 134th Recruit Class ceremony
Last Friday, the 134th basic recruit class of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) graduated from the FHP Training Academy. These 48 new troopers join the more than 1,900 troopers who patrol Florida’s roads each day to provide safety and security to residents and visitors. “In this demanding and turbulent time, these graduates made a conscious decision to serve our state so they could help others,” said DHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “I am extremely proud to welcome them to the department and grateful for their service in pursuit of a Safer Florida.” Members of the 134th basic recruit classes went through 28 weeks of intense physical and classroom training covering topics such as human relations, law, firearms, defensive tactics, vehicle operations and first aid. While at the FHP Training Academy, recruits also participated in several community service activities, including blood drives and volunteering to help those living with developmental disabilities. “The men and women of the FHP have built a tradition dedicated to upholding the Patrol’s motto of ‘Courtesy, Service, Protection’ to the people of this great state,” said Colonel Gene Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “This graduating class has put in countless hours of physical and mental training to prepare them for a career with FHP and I commend them for their dedication and commitment.” Upon reporting to their duty stations, the new troopers will be placed with a certified Field Training Officer (FTO). Troopers will work in tandem with their FTO’s for up to 12 weeks prior to being released to solo duty. The FHP is currently recruiting. Those looking for an exciting career in law enforcement have endless possibilities within the ranks of the Patrol. From Pensacola to the Florida Keys, FHP allows you to make a career where you call home. Opportunities and openings are statewide. FHP is now hiring for the 136th basic recruit class starting February 2017. To learn more about Florida’s finest, visit www.BeATrooper.comor contact FHP’s Recruitment Office at 850-617-2307. Get connected with the FHP Training Academy via Facebook (Florida Highway Patrol Training Academy).
State Police Face Staffing Shortages as Salaries Languish
Virginia’s state police expected an influx of money from the new state budget. Instead, they learned this summer that a shortfall would quash promised raises for all state employees and doom a separate effort to give experienced officers an additional pay boost. The week the deficit became public, 11 Virginia troopers and civilians quit. “Many of our people have just kind of thrown their hands up and said, ‘Listen, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to take care of my family and if you’re not going to help me do it, then I’m going to go elsewhere,’ said Wayne Huggins, who heads the Virginia State Police Association. It’s a problem that state police departments — which patrol highways, assist local officers, and serve as the only law enforcement in some rural areas — are facing across the country. A combination of low pay, baby-boom retirements and recruitment troubles has left state police departments short of manpower. Fewer troopers also puts public safety at risk because large swaths of highways go unpatrolled, and response times to crashes and other emergencies are growing longer, Huggins said. “We perform roles that only the state police [can],” Huggins said. Beyond salaries, continuously tight budgets across many states can take a toll on troopers’ morale. Outdated equipment, the disappearance of fringe benefits like cellphone allowances, and the demand for overtime work in exchange for comp days that they may not even have time to take have convinced many officers to head for the exits. And attracting replacements is increasingly difficult as recruits favor the many municipal police departments that pay more than their state counterparts. The Virginia State Police, for instance, saw a nearly 50 percent decrease in applications between February and August, and only 31 percent of applicants actually showed up for testing. Declining unemployment and rising police-community tensions could be partly to blame for fewer applicants, according to Nelson Lim, a sociologist who analyzes recruitment, retention, diversity and other police personnel issues for the RAND Corp., a nonprofit public policy think tank. Even before this summer’s resignations, the Virginia State Police had gaping holes in its force. Over the last decade, the department’s budget has been reduced by $107 million, including a $13.1 million cut this year. The starting salary for a Virginia trooper is $36,207, which is several thousand dollars below the national average, Huggins said. Like many other state police departments, the force also has been depleted by a flood of baby-boom retirements. Overall, the force is short 237 sworn officers, the equivalent of 11 percent of its 2,118 troopers, special agents and supervisors. It’s also short more than a hundred civilian employees, who are responsible for tasks that include manning 911 call centers and maintaining vehicles. The story is similar in Maine, where state police decided low salaries were to blame for their staffing vacancies. They hope pay raises ranging from 12 to 18 percent will reverse the shortage. In Pennsylvania, where the number of state police retirees is expected to balloon in the next few years, the department has struggled to get more money from the state because transportation advocates have previously argued that funds would be better spent on infrastructure. In Georgia, troopers cannot get to thousands of crashes each year because of staffing shortages caused by low pay and recruitment struggles. In Iowa, the trooper training academy hasn’t hosted a new class in two years, and state police are operating with 102 fewer officers than they had in 1998. State Patrol spokesman Sgt. Nathan Ludwig isn’t sure how much the $50,564 starting salary has to do with those staffing shortages, but he knows that a large number of retirements are, at least in part, to blame.“We’re trying to replace the people who are retiring and it’s hard to do that,” Ludwig said. In Washington state, retirements and resignations meant for years that more officers were leaving the force than recruits were joining it. The issue came to a head in 2015, when 31 troopers quit, moving to other, higher-paying police agencies. Including the number of people who retired, 106 troopers left the force that year. The resignations created almost four times as many vacancies as the previous six years — combined. Washington State Patrol had known for years that its salaries weren’t competitive. But a study requested by the Legislature and conducted last year found more than money was involved. Troopers also were dissatisfied with a management culture that left them feeling disconnected out on the road, said Travis Matheson, the agency’s recruiting director. People who work in law enforcement don’t do it for the money, Matheson said. But it does make a difference. Morale is affected, he said, by the fact that troopers make less money than many of their counterparts in neighboring police and sheriff’s departments. “They would work next to their counterparts in other organizations that were a lot smaller, with a lot less prestige, with a lot less training and lot of things that didn’t compare to us, but they were making a lot more money than we were,” Matheson said. Washington State Patrol salaries fall below that of a number of local police agencies. For example, entry-level state troopers earn $54,192 a year — $22,509 less than their counterparts in Kennewick, who draw $76,701 in their first year of service at the southeast Washington police department. Now, that’s changing. Troopers will get about a 30 percent raise over the next several years (funded by a $30 increase in the state vehicle license fee), starting with an increase in the starting salary to $57,783 in 2018. The law that dictates the raises also requires the state patrol to invest in recruitment campaigns to attract people who are unlikely to show interest in joining the force, including those who live in low-income and minority neighborhoods. Already, the department has used billboards to advertise. And it’s experimenting with testimonials from new troopers on social media and popular apps like Pandora, an internet radio station, to encourage people to sign up. “They’re very young,” Matheson said of the troopers featured in the ads. “They look and sound young. They’re a diverse representation of the agency.” A dedicated source of funding might be the solution in other states, said Huggins, the Virginia trooper representative. He points to legislation offered by Virginia state Sen. Charles Carrico, a Republican and former state trooper who wants to create a dedicated revenue stream to support the state police by raising vehicle registration fees by $1.25 each year through 2026. “We don’t need a Band-Aid,” Huggins said. “These problems have been persisting for years. They just have grown almost to a crisis point now. We need some long-term solutions.” The blame for the staffing problems often goes beyond money. Police departments need to speed up their hiring process, which can sometimes take up to a year, said Jon Walters, a former police officer from Washington who founded Public Safety Testing, a company that streamlines applications so candidates can apply to more than one agency at a time. “The reality is that in the private sector, for even highly skilled positions, they [employers] can make a decision in weeks rather than months,” Walters said. “That’s what we’re competing against.” Police agencies also should consider making it easier for recruits to join by easing up on the measures they use to evaluate potential officers, said Lim of the RAND Corp. Forcing local and state recruits to take tests in which they have to decipher complicated legal terminology before they’ve even gone through training often rules out candidates who could be excellent law enforcement agents, he said. They just haven’t learned the material yet. And while physical tests like jumping 6-foot fences and dragging human-sized dummies around demonstrate physical ability, officers may have to do those types of things only once or twice in an entire career, Lim said. So, the tests aren’t consistent with everyday requirements of the job. “Most of the time, these tests are homegrown tests,” Lim said. “They are not scientifically significantly validated”.
New Jersey State Trooper Dwayne Phillips was dispatched to a home in Harmony Township where he found a deer struggling for dear life in a swimming pool, WPIX reported. State troopers aren’t trained to rescue animals from pools, but Phillips acted quickly to bring the deer to safety. “Well, he grabbed the buck by its rack and pulled him from the water to safety!” New Jersey State Police said in a Facebook post. “Now, there is always the possibility of serious injury or worse when trying to rescue a drowning victim and even more so when the victim is a wild animal. But this trooper did an outstanding job!” The buck took a moment to come to its senses before it ran off. Its location is unknown. “The most rewarding thing that we can do as troopers is to save a life, human or animal,” New Jersey State Police said.
Virginia legislators and Prince George County officials, as well as state and local law enforcement, gathered Friday in Prince George County to dedicate the Route 301 bridge over Interstate 95 in memory of Virginia State Police Trooper Nathan-Michael W. Smith. Trooper Smith, 27, died on September 21st, 2015 when his patrol car ran off the left side of the Interstate 295 exit ramp and crashed into the wood line in Prince George County. The Suffolk native joined the Virginia State Police Department in December 2013. Following graduation, Trooper Smith was assigned to the Richmond Division’s Area 7 Office, which encompasses the cities of Hopewell and Petersburg, and the counties of Dinwiddie, Nottoway and Prince George. The Route 301 bridge in Prince George County at Exit 45 over Interstate 95 has been designated as the Trooper Nathan-Michael W. Smith Memorial Bridge Through the efforts of Virginia Senator Rosalyn R. Dance, Virginia Delegate Lashrecse D. Aird and the Virginia State Police Association.
After an Oregon State Trooper lost his battle with cancer, his friends created a challenge to honor his memory. Oregon State Trooper Greg Walker lost his battle with cancer on July 22, 2016. His good friend and Colorado State Trooper Jeremiah Sharp created The Greg Walker Challenge to take Trooper Walker's OSP challenge coin across the country. The goal is to get a photo of the challenge coin in the hands of troopers in 49 states. On Sunday, the challenge coin made it to the Indiana-Ohio border where Indiana State Trooper Eric Fields and Ohio State Trooper Steve Ilo were pictured with the coin on I-70. “When the coin has completed the journey, another recipient will follow. Trooper Walker's Challenge will remain a movement in Greg's honor, to recognize the challenge of other Law Enforcement Professionals who are fighting for their lives," the Facebook page reads.
We’ve all see the headlines of people carrying backpacks containing explosives into public spaces. Sometimes their actions result in death, other times the public is spared. And now our state has a “new line” of defense against these threats. They’re called “vapor wake dogs” and the Michigan State Police has been gifted one of them. He’s a genetically bread Labrador named Louie, and his handler is Michigan State Police Trooper Tim Johnson. “Their sense of smell is greater than human beings. It’s not that we can’t smell the odor but we have to be much closer to it and there’s no way we can follow it like the dogs do,” explains Trooper Johnson. Louie is a 15-month-old Lab, still a puppy, but ready to work. He’s called a vapor wake dog, trained to detect the scent of explosives when they are in motion or in a crowd. “If you’re walking in a mall and man or woman walks by you with perfume or cologne on you get a couple steps past that person after they’ve passed you smell that in the air, the perfume. And that’s the way the dog does the vapor wake,” adds Trooper Johnson. The two tested out their skills this past weekend walking through the crowds at Michigan State before the football game. “He’ll grab the odor and then try to figure out what person has it on them and then trail the odor until they come across the person that has it on them and continued to follow them until the person stops,” says trooper Johnson. “So he is locked on the lady that’s walking at a faster rate than all the other people and he will follow continue follow her until she stops or we tell her to stop.” If these dogs pick up the scent of a bomb they can follow the vapor plume up to the length of several football fields. Louie and other dogs like him are trained at Auburn University in Alabama.
Massachusetts State Troopers assist a woman in labor
Two Massachusetts State Troopers jumped into action on an extra-special assignment Sunday night, helping assist a woman as she went into labor on the Massachusetts Turnpike. The call came in just after 7 p.m. Sunday evening from a Framingham couple who had pulled over on Interstate 90 Eastbound at the Allston Brighton tolls, State Police said. Trooper Joseph Hilton arrived first, followed quickly by Lieutenant William Nee, beating Boston EMS to the scene. The couple, meanwhile, had pulled into the parking lot just after the toll booth at Exit 18. The woman, by this time, was in active labor, according to State Police, and both troopers jumped in to assist. State Police said EMS arrived around 7:35 p.m., and the baby boy was delivered inside the ambulance. The baby and his parents were then taken to Mass. General Hospital. "Excellent work by all involved," State Police said in a press release. Police did not disclose the couple's name, but did share a photo of them and their newborn from MGH, with Trooper Hilton standing by.
New York State Police has more than 220 new troopers reporting to duty
A class of more than 220 new troopers graduated from the New York State Police Academy's Basic School last week, and they will report for duty across the state on Thursday. At least five of them will begin their service with Troop E, which is headquartered in Canandaigua. The academy program lasts for 26 weeks, and is followed by an additional ten weeks of field training. It's the 204th graduating class in the academy's history. Seven of the graduates are originally from Monroe County, including trooper Olivia Beck, who said she's really looking forward to getting out on the road. "It feels great to finally be able to say that I'm a state trooper," Beck said. "It's a great feeling to see myself and all of my classmates walk across the stage in uniform, to see all of our hard work pay off after seven months, and not just the last seven months at the academy but the years that in took in preparation to get to the academy." Beck will be assigned to Troop D, which is headquartered in Oneida and serves seven counties in central New York. The graduation ceremony was held at the Empire State Plaza Convention Hall in Albany, where Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul congratulated the graduates and thanked them for their commitment to public service. "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 Hochul. "This class chose the motto ‘Protecting New York to the core, we are the 204’, and nothing could speak more to their courage and sense of dedication." Hochul also said she was encouraged to see that the number of women in each class of troopers continues to grow. "Last time I spoke (at an academy graduation) there were 28 women among your ranks", Hochul said, "and today there are 42." Among them was Samantha Hartmann of Remsen (Oneida county), whose mother Beth Lamphere is also a state trooper. They are believed to be the first mother and daughter to both serve with the New York State police. In addition to honoring all graduates from the 204th academy class, New York State Police Superintendent George Beach presented individual awards to a handful of students. Trooper Joseph A. Sparacino, who will join Troop E in Canandaigua, received the Academic Achievement award for attaining the highest level of academic performance during training. Sparacino, 27, was a police officer with the town of Tonawanda before joining the State Police. "It's been my dream to be a trooper," Sparacino said. "I'm just excited to get back on the road and do the job I love doing."