Off-duty trooper saves man's life with a tree branch and a t-shirt
An off-duty New Jersey State Trooper used a tree branch and a T-shirt to save an auto accident victim's life this week. Trooper Kenneth Minnes was traveling on the Atlantic City Expressway in Gloucester Township around 2:30 p.m. on Monday when he came upon an overturned, small truck that had run off the road and struck several trees, police said. Another motorist had already stopped to assist the two occupants of the smoking vehicle and Minnes helped move them away from the truck before it was consumed in flames. When Minnes noticed the passenger, a 25-year-old man, was bleeding heavily from an arm wound, he grabbed a T-shirt and a piece of tree branch to fashion a makeshift tourniquet, he explained during an interview Friday afternoon. This stemmed the blood loss until EMTs arrived. The occupants were airlifted from the scene. Both remain at Cooper University Hospital in Camden. Minnes has been checking with hospital staff to see how they are doing. "I've been calling them every day," he said. "Both of them are in bad shape." The passenger was in stable condition as of Friday. The accident was so bad, police couldn't initially determine the make of the vehicle, State Police spokesman Lt. Ted Schafer said. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Mississippi Highway Patrol legacy passed down through generations
Capt. Johnny Poulos grew up watching his uncle, former DPS Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz, wearing the uniform of the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Poulos was 9 years old in 1974 when Santa Cruz graduated from Trooper school. In 1999, Poulos joined MHP as a part of Class 54, and started his career in Hattiesburg. As he continued that career, his son Justin was watching in the same way. "I was raised around it my whole life and it's always been a calling for me," said Justin Poulos. "Growing up around it and seeing how everything operates and how my father impacted the community around him — that's something I always wanted." On Tuesday, Justin Poulos graduated Trooper school as part of Class 62 along with 56 other cadets. It seemed to bring full-circle the photo he and his father had taken at Johnny Poulos' graduation when Justin was 7 years old, as did the photo of Justin and his son Ridge, 3, who was even wearing an MHP uniform made of one of Johnny Poulos' old uniforms. "The brass that's on that shirt is what I actually graduated with in 1999. To see those pictures side by side, it's hard to explain," Johnny said. "It's a proud moment, but it's an emotional moment to think I remember when Justin was standing by me in that picture when I graduated and it seems like it's just yesterday. Nineteen years later, he walks across that stage and gets the badge." Because it becomes a way of life in a family, there have been other families with generations of troopers, Johnny Poulos said. It's an honor to be among them. And could Ridge be the next member of the family to join the MHP one day? "I'm following in my father's footsteps. I hope to be a father to my son like my dad's been to me, it's amazing to be able to grow up and see that," Justin said. "I'm just hoping my son will be able to experience the same things that I am." "There's a possibility if he chooses, he might walk across that stage one day and get the badge pinned on him too," Johnny said. "If that's what's in store for Ridge down the road, hopefully I'll be around to see that." Justin Poulos attributes his graduation from the academy not only to his family, but to his classmates. When they missed being home, he said, they took comfort in the family they were becoming to each other. "The hardest part about patrol school for me was being away from my family, and I think for all 57 cadets the hardest part was being away from family," Justin said. "It's a culture shock, but when it's all said and done, we all pretty much came together as a family and we all got to graduate and walk across the stage. We all accomplished something together, and it's all something we'll remember the rest of our lives." There were three women in the class, and cadets from all over the state. Capt. Poulos said the class seemed to have a character and chemistry from the beginning. "They were a unique class, you could tell they wanted to be there. They had the drive and they knew they were going to graduate," Johnny Poulos said. "As far as the females being mothers, then going out on top of that and being a trooper, I can't tell you how much respect I have for them to be able to do that and to want to do that, so they deserve the credit." Johnny Poulos said Class 62 taught their superiors as well, especially in ways they can more effectively recruit. Having three women in the class helped them learn more about how to recruit women as well, he said. The recruits received their assignments a few weeks ago and will now start several weeks with field training officers. Justin Poulos said he, like most of his classmates, is looking forward to being on the road. Johnny Poulos said it was a strange experience to be both a trooper and a trooper's father, helping encourage Justin when he came home on the weekends and get him ready to face another week. "I'm really proud of him, and the whole family is too. He accomplished it just like he said he would," Johnny Poulos said. Something else Justin said to him stuck with him, too. "He said, 'This isn't about me, there are 56 other cadets who deserve just as much credit as I do if not more,'" Johnny Poulos said.
Nevada Highway Patrol troopers receive pin after mass shooting
We're getting our first look at some new pins that have been issued to some Nevada Highway Patrol troopers who responded to the 1 October shooting. The pins are inscribed with Route 91. 58 people were killed and hundreds more were injured during the Route 91 Harvest Festival. 13 Action News spoke with one trooper who told us that "I'm very humbled and proud to wear it. To me it is a tribute to the 58 souls we lost as well as the hundreds of others who are forever changed at no fault of their own," said NHP Trooper Travis Smaka. 68 troopers received the pin which they can wear on their uniforms.
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Louisiana State Police trooper finds wallet during Mardi Gras, mails it back to owner
A Louisiana state trooper found a wallet on New Orleans' Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras and set it back to its owner at the trooper's expense. Master Trooper John Jett's good deed would have gone unnoticed, but the wallet's owner, who goes by the username Wardo613 on the social news aggregation site Reddit, posted a photo Wednesday on the site of the wallet and Jett's note.
My name is John Jett, I am a trooper with the Louisiana State Police. While working Mardi Gras, I found your wallet on Bourbon St. at St. Louis St. I intended to leave it at a lost and found at the NOPD 8th District, however they really did not have one set up. I decided to mail it to you. I did go through your wallet in an effort to make sure the address on your (driver's license) was your correct address. Everything in your wallet is exactly as it was when I found it."
The grateful owner mentioned in his post that all of the money he had previously was still in the wallet when he got it back in the mail. The post already has been viewed almost 1 million times. Jett's actions "are truly a model of public service," said State Police Col. Kevin Reeves, head of the Louisiana law-enforcement agency. "It makes us proud as an agency and as a law-enforcement agency that Trooper Jett would go above and beyond his duty as a public servant," Reeves said. "It represents the heart of the best of our agency. Jett, 40, is based at Troop E in Alexandria, La. He's been a state trooper since April 1999, according to the Leesville (La.) Daily Leader, which named Jett its Public Safety Person of the Week in March 2011. "Law-enforcement officers do these kind of acts of kindness every day, usually without fanfare. We'd have never known about this either if it hadn't been for the owner of the wallet," Reeves said. "Trooper Jett never mentioned it. He just considered it part of his job." The wallet's owner said in comments to his original post that he plans on sending pizza to Jett and his colleagues as a thank-you.
Connecticut State Police announce new Colonel
Amid the departures of some high-ranking command staff, the Connecticut State Police have announced the appointment of a new colonel. George F. Battle, who previously served as a lieutenant colonel, has been promoted to colonel and will oversee the entire force of roughly 1,200 troopers. Battle assumes that position following the departure of Alaric Fox, a 24-year state police veteran who was appointed colonel in March 2016. Fox was named the police chief in Enfield recently. Battle is a 30-year veteran of the state police who has served in a number of roles, including commanding officer of the Office of Administrative Services and deputy commissioner of the Division of State Police, officials said in the announcement. He previously served as major in the Bureau of Business Development and a captain in Western District headquarters, the Office of Professional Standards and Compliance, and the Bureau of Field Technology, Infrastructure and Transportation. He was the commanding officer of Troop I in Bethany, Troop W at Bradley International Airport and Troop A in Southbury while holding the rank of lieutenant, officials said.
Montana Highway Patrol welcomes four new troopers
The Montana Highway Patrol welcomed four new members to its ranks during a ceremony in Helena on Friday. New troopers Calvin Jimmerson and Toni Snelling of Billings, Branden Timm of Big Timber, and Perry Woodland Cascade received graduation certificates and their badges, after months of training in the MHP Advanced Academy. Montana Attorney General Tim Fox was among the leaders who welcomed the graduates. He encouraged them to think about the importance of character. “Public service is really a time-honored profession, for which your reward will only be as meaningful as the effort, energy and heart you invest into your work,” Fox said. Col. Tom Butler, chief of the Highway Patrol, asked the new troopers to build relationships in their communities, treat others with respect and take time for their own families. “Today, I’m honored to have you joining the family of the best law enforcement team in Montana, as we continue the important work of serving the people of the great state of Montana,” he said. The cadets selected Jimmerson to speak on behalf of their class. He decided to apply to MHP after several years working in IT. “It’s a little bit different pace, going from sitting at a desk to sitting in a patrol car,” he said. Jimmerson said he’s honored to carry on MHP’s legacy. “I’m just overwhelmed by the support that we’ve had here for graduation and up to this point, the last six months of training,” he said. “There are so many people that are behind law enforcement and it means a lot.” Jimmerson will be working in his home community of Billings. As a trooper, he said he wants to help address drunk driving and drug trafficking in Montana. All four of the new troopers will serve initially in eastern Montana, where leaders say they needed to account for retirements and other job openings. Friday’s event was the 63rd graduation ceremony for the MHP Advanced Academy. Leaders said this graduating class was unusually small. They said, in many cases, the Highway Patrol receives fewer applications when the job market in other industries is stronger.
Minnesota Trooper of the Year
Dion Pederson of Park Rapids has been named the Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) trooper of the year. Pederson, an accident reconstruction specialist and academy instructor whose career as a trooper started in 1997, received the award Feb. 14. It recognized his service during 2017. An announcement about the award on the MSP's website said, "It has been more than 20 years since Dion Pederson became a Minnesota State Patrol trooper. Yet, year after year, he continues leaving an agency in a better place than the year before." Pederson, the statement continued, "is one of the leading crash reconstruction specialists in the state. He's a mentor. He's a crash data retrieval specialist. He's a firearms instructor and a certified armor. Oh, and he still somehow finds time to patrol the roads, present at conferences and represent the State Patrol with nothing but professionalism." Pederson studied law enforcement at Alexandria Technical and Community College, where he met his wife, Sue, in 1986. He started his career as a deputy with the Norman County Sheriff's Office. "So, I'm actually in my 29th year of law enforcement," he said in an interview. In 1997, he joined the MSP, where Sue had been a trooper since 1989. She is currently a sergeant, the senior trooper in the local office. Pederson teaches firearms and crash investigation at the law enforcement academy in Camp Ripley, where cadets witness real vehicle crashes using dummies "so they can see the live action, how things actually pan out," he said. In real-life accidents, Pederson analyzes the scene, the condition of the vehicles, including the possibility of neglected mechanical issues, and analyzes data from the airbag system's "black box," which is actually silver. "There's just a ton of information in there," he said, "like if seat belts were worn, the pre-impact speeds, was there braking, were there steering maneuvers." Newer vehicles also have yaw sensors and steering wheel angle sensors, showing whether and how a driver reacted to a threat. "It will tell me," he said, "what the car was doing, what the driver was doing; but generally, we can't tell you what the driver was thinking. We can take their word at some point, but evidence won't lie. Skid marks, data that I find on the scene, my speed analysis — that stuff doesn't lie." "If you can make heads or tails of what I wrote," he said, "I think that's good. That's how I explain it at the academy, too. Don't try to sound smarter than you are. Don't try to dazzle people with the word-of-the-day. Just be yourself." In addition to his on-the-road duties and his mentoring work, Pederson also made presentations about crash analysis last year at the east- and west-central Toward Zero Deaths conferences. His advice for today's cadets who would like to see a Trooper of the Year Award on their desk someday is: "Take your calls. Be a good partner. Work. Don't be a load. Everybody has days when you're busting your butt all day long, and there are days when there's not very much going on — you appreciate those days. It actually works well. You go out and work traffic, stop some cars, interact with the people. Hopefully you're making a difference out there." Pederson acknowledged that every time a public safety officer puts on the uniform, especially nowadays, it's dangerous. "When you start your shift, your goal is to make sure you sign off at the end of your shift and go be with your family." In a larger sense, he said, his goal as a trooper is to help people. Besides the opportunity to do that, he said what keeps him putting on the uniform day after day is the daily mystery of what will happen next. "When you get into your squad car," he said, "when you sign on for the day, you have no idea what you're going to be doing. It might be going to a crash. You might be going to a medical call. You might be helping the county at a different call. To me, it's the thrill of the unknown."
Medal of Valor awarded to Texas Highway Patrol Corporal
A Big Spring woman received the Department of Public Safety's top honor last week at an awards ceremony in Austin. Texas Highway Patrol Cpl. Hope Hohertz was awarded the Medal of Valor, stemming from an incident that occurred Dec. 26, 2016, according to a DPS news release. Hohertz overheard a Big Spring Police Department dispatch report of a person with a gun at a local business and responded to assist the police department in a traffic stop of a suspect armed with a handgun and rifle, the release states. The suspect pointed a handgun with a silencer at Hohertz, according to the release, and Hohertz responded by firing at the suspect, who fled in his vehicle as more officers arrived. Hohertz located the man as he left his vehicle with the semi-automatic rifle. He fired 28 rounds at authorities, injuring a Big Spring police officer. When the suspect tried to reload his weapon, the release states, Hohertz opened fire with her shotgun, wounding the suspect and bringing the standoff to an end. Multiple loaded handgun and semi-automatic rifle magazines were found in the vehicle. The suspect was later convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Record setting Maryland State Police class of troopers graduate
The 147th trooper candidate class joined Maryland’s finest Friday morning as they were pinned with the badges of Maryland State Police troopers in a ceremony at Century High School. The auditorium was filled with friends and family of the graduates as well as staff members who saw the candidates through their training, members of various law enforcement agencies throughout the state and beyond, and Gov. Larry Hogan. During their time in the academy, the class of 47 set records. From the start of their training until the awarding of diplomas 27 weeks of rigorous work later, only one candidate did not complete the training, the fewest members lost in state history. They also raised funds in the 2017 Komen Maryland Race for the Cure and raised more than $11,000 for Special OlympicsMaryland during the 2018 Polar Bear Plunge. Hogan spoke to the graduates prior to the presentation of badges and diplomas. Maryland’s governor shared an anecdote from 2014, on the day he became the governor-elect and troopers from the Maryland State Police arrived to serve as executive protection. He said the full responsibility of the office and the men and women he oversees became clear to him. He said that though they would face difficulty and criticism in their careers, he and his office would stand behind them with pride. “You will always have the full support of your governor,” he said. Capt. Michael Tagliaferri, commander of the Education and Training Division, addressed the class of candidates who were his first as commander of the division. “It was an incredible experience to watch you each as you develop and grow as individuals,” he said to the class. He advised them to, most importantly, never forget the core values of the Maryland State Police: integrity, fairness and service. Col. William Pallozzi, superintendent of the MSP, also spoke to congratulate the 47 graduates on a badge that is “earned, never given.” He emphasized that the responsibilities of troopers are serious and vital. “You will be looked upon as the one person in an out-of-control situation who can restore order,” he said. As a group, the class took their oath of office before they were individually pinned with a badge and presented their diploma. As one of the final moments of the ceremony, the graduates recited their class motto as one: “In times of strife, we came to life.” On a day that marked the beginning of a career for 47 troopers, retired 1st Lt. David Lauder, one of the oldest living retirees of the MSP at age 95, reflected on his time in the agency. He said if he could do it all again and join the force, he would be on patrol that afternoon. His advice to the graduates? “Smile when you can, but be polite to everyone all the time. Only growl and look stern when you have to.”
California Highway Patrol arrest man riding horse on suspicion of DUI
A man who was riding a horse along the eastbound 91 Freeway in Long Beach during the early morning hours Saturday was arrested on suspicion of DUI, according to California Highway Patrol officials in Santa Fe Springs. Luis Alfredo Perez was taken into custody about 1:30 a.m. on his 29th birthday, according to a CHP news release. The agency posted several humorous tweets about the incident. Perez was riding the horse eastbound on the freeway from Paramount Boulevard to Downey Avenue when a 911 caller reported him to CHP, the release stated. Officers found him after he exited the freeway at the Downey Avenue exit and was riding into Bellflower. The officers gave Perez a field sobriety test and a preliminary alcohol screening device test, which showed a blood-alcohol level of more than double the legal limit. He was booked into jail on suspicion of "DUI on a horse," the release said. The animal, described as a white Arabian named "Guera," was unharmed and was released to the suspect's mother. A CHP official said she came to the scene quickly. "Just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all … you haven’t!" CHP Officer Jeremy Tolen said in an email.
New Jersey Troopers of the year awarded to two for deactivating terror attack bombs
Two New Jersey state troopers were honored Thursday morning for successfully deactivating two improvised explosive devices after a pipe bomb exploded in a terror attack along a Marine Corps race in Seaside Park in 2016. Detective Sgt. James Abbes and Det. Stephen Christinzio will each receive a 2017 Trooper of the Year award, State Police said in a statement. Both devices were in a trash can that exploded before the start of the delayed race. No one was hurt following the explosion, but two of the three bombs remained intact and active, authorities said.
Abbes and Christinzio donned protective gear, approached the explosives and set up equipment including robots to deactivate the devices. "Detective Sergeant Abbes and Detective Christinzio performed with calm and focus while under extreme stress, ensuring the safety of others first before risking their own lives to execute their mission, without the luxury of knowing if there were more components of the attack yet to be acted," said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. "The actions of both troopers have made all of us in the State Police, past and present, proud and honored to call them Troopers of the Year."
Colby College hires head of Maine State Police as new security director
Following an extensive nationwide search, Colby College has announced it is hiring the head of Maine State Police to take over as its director of security. Maine State Police Chief Robert Williams has led the force for the past seven years to close out a law enforcement career spanning 33 years. He began as a trooper with the state police before finally being named colonel by Gov. Paul LePage in 2011. He will officially take over as security director for the college on March 12. In a statement from the college, Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer Doug Terp said that “having a seasoned leader with experience in every aspect of protecting our communities will position Colby for continued strength,” especially at a time when security on college and university campuses has become increasingly complex. “Bob also demonstrates a keen ability to build relationships, which is an important element of this role. We look forward to welcoming him to Colby,” Terp said in the release. Williams will lead a staff of 40 employees at Colby and will manage and administer safety programming, facility security, compliance training, emergency preparedness and critical incident management. “As a native of central Maine, I have watched Colby continue to rise,” Williams said in the release. “I am drawn to Colby’s commitment to excellence, something that I have continually worked toward as a member of the Maine State Police. After a full career in law enforcement, I am excited about the opportunity to interact with a whole new community.” Williams is a graduate of the University of Maine in Augusta and earned a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Husson University. He also attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He began a career in law enforcement in 1983 as an officer in the Pittsfield Police Department. He later became a state trooper in Skowhegan for 11 years, rising to the rank of sergeant. He eventually became a lieutenant in the communications unit, and in 2000 rose to the rank of major. In 2007 he was named lieutenant colonel.
New York State Troopers assist childhood friend of Parkland Shooting Victim by purchasing airline ticket to Florida
Two New York state troopers are being credited with an immense kindness after they paid for the flight of a young woman to Florida to say goodbye to her friend, one of the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre. Jordana Judson, 23, told NBC News that she was devastated to learn that her childhood friend, Meadow Pollack, was among the victims of the Valentine’s Day shooting at her alma mater.
Pollack, an 18-year-old senior, and Judson were lifelong friends, NBC News reported. “They were like our second family our whole lives,” Judson said of the Pollacks. A photo of Meadow Pollack, one of the 17 victims killed in the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sits against a cross as part of a public memorial in Parkland Florida. Judson said she showed up at LaGuardia Airport on Thursday, the day after the shooting, frantic to get a flight home to Florida, where she’d grown up. “As soon as I got out of the car at the airport, I started hysterically crying,” she said. Troopers Robert Troy and Thomas Karasinski spotted the distraught young woman and asked if she was all right. She tearfully explained that a friend was killed in the school shooting in Florida and that she needed help figuring out where to buy her ticket. The troopers led her inside to the JetBlue counter, where an agent told her a one-way ticket to Florida would be almost $700. Unable to afford the cost, she begged the agent to lower the price or allow her a bereavement discount. The agent could not accommodate her, and was about to give the ticket to another passenger when Troy and Karasinski stepped in. “I look up, and the state troopers are standing there and they’re both handing over their credit cards,” Judson told NBC News. “I’m telling them that they don’t have to do this. This is crazy. They said, ‘It’s already done. We want you to be home with their families.’”
A rabbi who sat Shiva with the Pollack family confirmed that Judson made it home to be with the family and to attend Meadow’s funeral on Friday, where the Miami Herald reported that she was described as a star with “a smile like sunshine.”
AAST has a new corporate partnership with Galls, LLC
The American Association of State Troopers, Inc. (AAST) is pleased to announce our newest corporate partnership. Galls, LLC, the leading distributor of public safety equipment in America, headquartered in Lexington, KY has generously signed on as a corporate partner in support of the American Association of State Troopers Foundation, Inc. (AASTF). Galls services the needs of law enforcement, military, security, fire, ems, postal, public transportation and more. Galls offers an extensive selection of products and brands, competitive prices, responsive service, fast deliveries, and seamless ordering. With nearly 50 years in the industry, Galls offers thousands of agencies and departments a 360° solution and provides each with a personalized web portal that makes ordering super easy, fast and convenient. The American Association of State Troopers is proud to partner with corporations like Galls that work every day to support our state troopers and all public safety heroes.