Two sons follow father's footsteps to become Virginia state troopers

VSP Brothers and Father

The only thing Matthew and Jacob Burgett liked more than playing cops and robbers was a TV show that depicted the same thing. Seeing real-life officers bust the bad guys on “COPS” was what their dad, Scott, did every day as a state trooper, and the brothers couldn’t wait to join him in uniform. “I always thought it looked really cool,” said Matthew, 26, who became a Virginia State Policeman three years ago. “The fast cars. The sirens. I always had my mind set on law enforcement.” Jacob, who’s 23 and recently graduated from the State Police Academy, added: “I’ve never really thought of anything else.” Clearly. As the brothers talked, their mother, Cindy Burgett, went to the cabinet of their Fredericksburg home where she keeps construction paper artwork and cards made by her three children. (The couple’s oldest, Sarah, is 28, and followed her mother into the medical field. Cindy is a neonatal intensive care unit nurse, and Sarah is an X-ray nurse.) Cindy retrieved a Father’s Day card, undated, that Jacob had done, probably in elementary school. The cover showed his father’s uniform from the neck to the black attachments on his belt. There was a dark blue tie, his dad’s badge and name tag. Inside, Jacob had scrawled the lines from the theme song of his favorite show: “Bad boys, bad boys. Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?” Then, he signed the card on the last page. Next to the drawing of a police car with two antennas, he wrote “Happy Father’s Day!” in oversize letters and included a postscript that really spoke to where his head—and heart—were. It read: “PS: you rock dude!” Their father may have wanted to say the same to his boys when they graduated from Basic Trooper Session. Participants can have a relative or friend, also in law enforcement, hand them their diplomas, or they can get them from the Virginia State Police superintendent. The person Matthew and Jacob Burgett chose was 1st Sgt. Scott Burgett, who beamed with pride. “This is fantastic,” he said at Jacob’s graduation. Like the ceremony, the training classes—all 1,340 hours spread out over 29 weeks and 98 courses—are held at state police headquarters in North Chesterfield near Richmond. Each member of the Burgett family attended Jacob’s graduation. Matthew is three years older, but when he and his brother stood next to each other in uniform, with the same buzz cut and “cover” on their heads, they looked like twins. All the Burgetts have blue eyes, but the boys’ are the color of a glacier, like their mother’s. It’s not unusual to have fathers and sons, dads and daughters and husbands and wives on the force, said Virginia State Police Capt. Todd Taylor. Matt is under his command, and Taylor often jokingly tells Scott—who he’s known more than 25 years—that he’s the second-best trooper in the family. He teases that he’ll have to change it to third best now that Jacob has joined. Then, on a serious note, he said the Burgetts are “thinking men” who reason their way through problems. “I’m just proud of them all,” he said. “They’re good folks, a good family. I would like to have a whole bunch more of them.”



Oklahoma Highway Patrol holds first graduation in two years

OK HP June 2018 graduation

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol added 29 new troopers to its ranks during a graduation ceremony Friday. Held at the Memorial Road Church of Christ, 29 of the 46 cadets that entered the 65th Oklahoma Highway Patrol Academy in January were chosen to serve the state after completing 20 weeks of intensive training. During the academy, cadets were challenged academically, physically and mentally. Officials said the average workday for cadets ranged from 12 to 18 hours each day. Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager Sam Presti delivered the ceremony's keynote address, and Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice Douglas L. Combs administered the oath of office. Friday's graduation was the first since 2016. The academy was put on hold after budget cuts at the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety last year.



South Carolina Department of Public Safety promotes first female to lead regional troop

SCHP promotes 1st female to lead regional troop

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety has promoted the first female trooper to lead the Orangeburg region of the department. Charleston native Shawna Gadsden will become the first female to lead a regional Highway Patrol Troop. Gadsden will oversee Troop Seven in her new role as commander, which includes Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun, Hampton and Orangeburg counties. “Capt. Gadsden has a true passion for public service and a commitment to lowering highway collisions and fatalities,” said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith. “She is well-respected among her peers and will be an asset to the communities of Troop Seven.” Gadsden has served with the Highway Patrol for 25 years and was promoted to captain on June 8. She previously held the position of lieutenant/executive officer for the Charleston region since 2013. Gadsden takes over for Capt. Keith Grice, who retired after being with the department for 30 years, including five years as Troop Seven commander. “Capt. Gadsden has invested her entire career in serving with the Highway Patrol,” said SCHP Colonel Chris Williamson. “We are truly fortunate to have a leader with her extensive knowledge of the Highway Patrol – both from the administrative and enforcement sides.” Gadsden began her career in Lexington in 1993, transferring to Charleston County in Troop Six in 1994. Gadsden was promoted to corporal in 2002 and later to sergeant in 2008 in Troop Six/Post B (Dorchester and Colleton Counties). She became first sergeant in 2011 in Post A (Berkeley and Charleston Counties). Most recently, she had served as lieutenant (since 2013) in Troop Six Headquarters.



Arkansas 2017 State Trooper of the Year

ASP Trooper of the Year

Trooper Levi Fleming, 26, of Brinkley, was presented the Arkansas State Trooper of the Year Award on Wednesday during the annual state police awards ceremony. Trooper Fleming was among a group of more than 30 Arkansas State Police personnel recognized for cumulative work or assignments involving particular incidents during the 2017 calendar year. The recipient of the Trooper of the Year Award personifies the highest standards of public service and has demonstrates a record of esteemed law enforcement action. Trooper Fleming, a four-year veteran of the department, was specifically recognized for his January 21, 2017 action in response to a disturbance call at a DeValls Bluff residence. An intoxicated individual had forced his way into the residence, armed himself with a shotgun, and doused a portion of the garage and himself with gasoline. While Trooper Fleming was present, the individual then ignited a fire which consumed the individual and a portion of the garage. Trooper Fleming armed himself with a fire extinguisher, activated the device and entered the garage, successfully extricating the victim who had sustained serious burns across more than forty percent of his body. Trooper Fleming was also among eight state troopers to receive the department’s life-saving award.



New Jersey State troopers use CPR to revive women after her vehicle runs off road


Three New Jersey state troopers used CPR to revive a woman who had stopped breathing. The troopers found the 56-year-old unconscious after her vehicle ran off the eastern spur of the New Jersey Turnpike in Secaucus last month. Video from a patrol car camera showed the troopers removing the woman from the car and performing CPR. The troopers are heard telling the woman "stay with us." Another trooper told the others "I got a pulse. Keep going." The woman started breathing. Paramedics took the woman to a hospital, where she was later released. The woman was not identified by officials.



New Jersey State Trooper pulls over police officer who delivered him as a baby

NJSP Traffic Stop reunion

A traffic stop in New Jersey ended with a surprise reunion when a state trooper pulled over the police officer who delivered him as a baby 27 years earlier. Trooper Michael Patterson stopped Matthew Bailly on June 1 for a minor vehicle violation last week, according to the New Jersey State Police’s Facebook page. When Bailly mentioned he was a retired police officer from Piscataway, New Jersey, Patterson told the man he was from the same town. Then, they discovered more connections. Patterson told Bailly what street he lived on, and the retired officer said he remembered it because he helped deliver a baby there 27 years ago. He even described the style and color of the house, and that the baby’s name was Michael. That’s when Patterson said: “My name is Michael Patterson, sir. Thank you for delivering me,” according to the New Jersey State Police. It turns out that Bailly responded to a call on Oct. 5, 1991 because Patterson’s mother, Karen, had been out shopping when she went into labor. She rushed home and Bailly arrived to help. After the Pattersons called their doctor, he guided a young Bailly over the phone so he could deliver the baby. Bailly was pulled over for tinted windows, according to CNN. But once Patterson discovered who he was speaking to, he gave Bailly a warning and let him off without a ticket. Instead, Patterson took his mother to visit Bailly and his wife, so everyone could reconnect.



Dereck Stewart has started his role as the new colonel and leader of the Tennessee Highway Patrol

THP New Colonel

MTSU graduate Dereck Stewart has started his role as the new colonel and leader of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Stewart, who previously held the rank of lieutenant colonel, was appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner David W. Purkey in April. The rise of the of 30-year veteran to the position also marks the first time an African-American has held the role of THP colonel, the agency's top leader. "It's always worth it to notice when history gets made," Haslam said during a ceremony at that time. "(Stewart) is the very first African-American to be lead this organization, but that's not why we promoted him. We promoted him because he is the best, most qualified, (and) has the right track record. We're thrilled we get to make this appointment." Stewart was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 2011 after serving in various capacities throughout the agency and has been responsible for the daily operations of the THP for the last seven years. Murfreesboro resident Tracy Trott retired May 31 after 40 years of service, including eight years as THP's leader.  The governor said it had been an honor to serve with Trott, and Stewart called Trott a friend and mentor. Stewart is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association, the Executive Leadership Institute, the FBI National Executive Institute and Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Davidson County with his wife and two children.




Minnesota trooper says his seat belt saved his life in head-on crash

MSP Trooper seat belt

Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Mike Krukowski says if it weren't for his seatbelt, his wife would've been planning his funeral. Krukowski was involved in a head-on crash last month when a driver near Lakeville veered off I-35, went through the freeway fence and struck his squad SUV.   Krukowski says over his 14 years on patrol, he's heard every reason why people don't wear their seatbelts -- including, I'll be able to belt in if needed.  He says he had fractions of a second when he saw the car coming at him. Krukowski says, "There was no way that I would be able to reach over my left shoulder and pull that seatbelt on and click it on moments before impact.  There's not a chance."  Krukowski broke both his feet and arm in the crash. The driver of the other car died several days later.



Law Enforcement from across the country pay final respects to NC Highway Patrol Trooper Samuel Bullard

NC troope laid to rest

Authorities from across the country made their way to North Carolina Friday to pay their final farewell to State Highway Patrol Trooper Samuel Bullard. Bullard, 24, died in a crash with a suspect who had passed through a license checkpoint. The crash happened along Interstate 77 southbound near NC 67 in Yadkin County. On Friday, the focus was not on the investigation, but Trooper Bullard's legacy and impact on others.  "This extraordinary young man who worked very hard and did what he was supposed to do.  And we're grateful for his life," said Governor Roy Cooper, the first to speak during the hour-long funeral. Cameras were not allowed inside, but media was invited to listen in. Governor Cooper described Bullard as being "full of the spirit of service." Reverend Victor Church led the service and was the final speaker. During his remarks, he jokingly recalled Bullard's proposal fell on April Fool's Day of this year.  He also read aloud a note written by Bullard's fiancé, where she shared her never-ending love and devotion.  "Thinking about the age he came on, planning for his wedding the same time I was planning for my wedding.  It's just - you ask a lot of questions, you ask a lot of the 'why's?'," said State Highway Patrol Sgt. Chris Knox.  Sgt. Knox was one of more than a thousand law enforcement personnel to converge on the Walker Center on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro.  He explained the impact of placing the ceremonial black band over his shield in memory of Bullard.  "I put it on and knew that everything had changed.  For a family everything had changed.  For the people that worked with him, everything had changed.  When you put this on, it hurts.  It's pretty close to the heart and the hearts what's affected by all this," explained Sgt. Knox.  Trooper Bullard's dedication and professionalism were brought up by many throughout the day.  "It should really motivate all of us to strive to be like him, and to honor him by going out in the communities and being the trooper he was in his community," said Sgt. Knox.  Bullard's three-year anniversary with State Highway Patrol would have been June 21.  Law enforcement agencies from more than a dozen states sent representatives to Friday's service.  They included various law enforcement agencies throughout North Carolina, Georgia State Patrol, Ohio Highway Patrol, Virginia State Police, Wyoming Highway Patrol, Wisconsin State Police, Delaware State Police, Utah Highway Patrol, Pennsylvania State Police, Indiana State Police, Texas Department of Public Safety, Missouri Highway Patrol, Illinois State Police, Michigan State Police, West Virginia State Police, among others.  Following the funeral, family, friends, and law enforcement personnel attended a private, graveside memorial service in Rhonda.



New York State Police fill time capsule, remember fallen troopers

NYSP Time Capsule

As state police paid tribute to fallen troopers Monday morning, they made sure photographs, reports and other information also would not be forgotten. State police placed a time capsule behind a monument for fallen members at their annual Memorial Day services outside the front entrance of the Troop D headquarters in Oneida, Trooper Jack Keller said. The ceremony is held each year to remember and honor 24 Troop D members who have given the "ultimate sacrifice," Keller said. About 150 people attended Monday. State police Maj. Mary Clark, who previously served as a Zone 1 Commander captain, spearheaded the idea of a centennial time capsule.  "The entire troop -- troop headquarters, zone stations and Bureau of Criminal Investigation units -- were notified and requested to provide some form of a portfolio containing interesting, noteworthy events, photographs, reports or whatever they thought would speak more clearly in the future, as compared to a historical study or verbal story sharing," Keller said. State police submitted items throughout 2017 "in a collective effort to compile a historical cache of goods and information," he said. "A few members took time to draft letters, in hope of same being read by family and relatives in the future." Items were placed inside a waterproof fiberglass time capsule, constructed by Zone 1 Commander Capt. Mark Klosowski; other members from Troop D also assisted. Members of the state police signed the outside of the time capsule, which Keller said, instructs future generations not to open it until at least the year 2067.



New Superintendent is appointed to lead the North Dakota Highway Patrol

NDHP New Superintendent

North Dakota Highway Patrol Maj. Brandon Solberg was appointed Thursday, May 17, to oversee the agency by Gov. Doug Burgum, who cited his leadership experience and history of field and administrative roles during his more than 22 years in law enforcement. Solberg will succeed Col. Michael Gerhart, who is retiring from the agency on June 30 after four years as Highway Patrol superintendent and more than 26 years with the agency. Solberg has been with the Highway Patrol for nearly two decades, including more than 10 years as a commander at patrol headquarters in the state Capitol. Before joining the Highway Patrol in January 1999, he was a Dickey County sheriff’s deputy and served as a part-time reserve deputy in Barnes County, working in corrections and patrol operations. “Maj. Solberg brings the right combination of leadership and management skills to lead the North Dakota Highway Patrol, as well as a deep understanding of what troopers face every day as they protect the public and enforce our laws,” Burgum said. “His focus on education and training, building partnerships and holding the Highway Patrol to the highest standards of professional excellence will serve North Dakota citizens well.” Solberg earned an associate’s degree in law enforcement from Alexandria (Minnesota) Technical College and a bachelor’s degree in social science from the University of North Dakota. He spent the first six years of his Highway Patrol career as a state trooper stationed in Grafton and Grand Forks before being promoted to sergeant and becoming a shift supervisor in Fargo. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2007, relocating to headquarters in Bismarck. Solberg advanced to the rank of captain in 2011 and was promoted to major and chief of staff in 2014, managing the patrol’s biennial budget of about $60 million and directly or indirectly supervising a staff of about 200 people. He was the patrol’s accreditation manager for about seven years, receiving the Colonel’s Award for Excellence in 2009 after the agency received a meritorious award and flagship agency status from its accrediting board. “I am grateful to Gov. Burgum for the opportunity to serve as the next Highway Patrol superintendent,” Solberg said. “I will listen and learn from our dedicated employees as we continue to enhance public safety for our citizens through high-quality service. Col. Gerhart was an exceptional leader, and I hope to build on the positive momentum he created.” Burgum expressed his deepest gratitude to Gerhart for his leadership and more than 26 years with the Highway Patrol, including stints as a trooper, safety and education officer, training director and field operations commander. “Col. Gerhart’s outstanding service as a law enforcement officer and leader have made the Highway Patrol a stronger agency and North Dakota a safer place to live and travel,” Burgum said. “We are deeply grateful for his steadfast commitment to public safety and his levelheaded leadership in both calm and tumultuous times. We thank him for helping to ensure a smooth transition to new leadership and wish him all the best.”



North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper killed in line-of-duty

NCHP Trooper Killed in line of duty May 2018

Trooper Samuel Bullard was killed in a vehicle crash while involved in a pursuit on I-77, near mile marker 80 in Yadkin County, at approximately 11:30 pm. The trooper in the lead of the pursuit noticed that Trooper Bullard was no longer behind him and attempted to reach him on the radio. When Trooper Bullard did not respond the lead trooper terminated the pursuit and then located Trooper Bullard's vehicle fully engulfed in flames. The driver and vehicle being pursued remains at large. Trooper Bullard had served with the North Carolina Highway Patrol for three years and was assigned to Surry County.



Minnesota State Patrol graduates 31 new troopers

Minnesota State Patrol May 2018 graduation

A Black Hawk helicopter pilot. A former farmer. The daughter of a current State Patrol major. The trio was part of a group of 31 men and women who officially joined the State Patrol family on Tuesday. The cadets, ages 21–49, include 12 military veterans, seven cadets with prior law enforcement experience and eight women. They graduated after spending 17 weeks at the State Patrol Academy at Camp Ripley.



South Carolina Patrol graduates 38 new troopers

SCHP May 2018 Graduations

The South Carolina Highway Patrol held graduation for 38 troopers from its Highway Patrol Basic Classes 103 and 104. Gov. Henry McMaster thanked the graduates for choosing this career path and for their willingness to serve and protect the state. The graduation of Basic 103 and 104 brings the total number of troopers in South Carolina to 785 (including today’s graduates) and another 47 troopers are currently in training. The class included 29 prior-certified officers and nine troopers who are new to the law enforcement profession.




Missouri Highway Patrol troopers surprise Thayer High School graduate with memorable gesture

MHP attend HS Graduation

A high school graduation in the Ozarks included many special guests. Friends and family of graduates at Thayer High School packed the gym Saturday night for the graduation of the 2018 class of Bobcats. One senior had a few extra friends in the stands. 18 Troopers from Troop G, surprised Hayden Dewayne Graham at the graduation. Hayden's late father, Dewayne Graham Jr., was shot and killed in an ambush 13 years ago outside of his Carter County home. Hayden was just four years old at the time. Sgt. Jeff Kinder says was an honor for him and his fellow troopers. "it meant a lot," said Sgt. Kinder. "You know, back in 2005 when Dewayne was killed, he was four-years-old. He's missed a lot of life's milestones with his dad. Such as Christmases, birthdays. You know a lot of that kind of stuff. Even though his dad wasn't physically able to be here today, we felt like we could stand up and be here for him." Troopers contacted Hayden's mother Tami Dubois a few weeks ago and asked if they could attend the ceremony to surprise Hayden and honor their brother in blue, Dewayne. "Sgt. Reese called me a couple of weeks ago and told me that they would like to come down and show up for Hayden's graduation and I thought that was pretty cool," she explains. "He stood for what we believe in, so we felt like it was our honor to stand up for him and be here for this milestone for his son," says Kinder. On Saturday night, just over 13 years later, Dewayne's son, Hayden Dewayne Graham, walked across the stage with mom, Dewayne's father, and 18 of his brothers in blue watching. "I was just real surprised. I had no idea that they would be there to support me for this," says Hayden Graham. It was a simple gesture that meant the world to him. "I was just proud that they still care and they're still with me and supporting me and here to congratulate me," he says. "I think he would be very proud and he would be thankful that his brothers were here to support Hayden," says Dubois. Everyone knew Graham was right there by son's side. "Dewayne was here," says Kinder. Only a few people knew of the gesture.