Mercedes-Benz and Alabama State Troopers join forces to promote seat belt safety

 Capture6282016The Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa County is teaming up with Alabama State Troopers to promote seatbelt safety awareness. On Monday morning, ALEA used a special rollover simulator at the Vance Mercedes Plant to kick off the annual Safety Awareness Week. Trooper Reginald King says that using the simulator as a visual aide is important to show how deadly it can be when motorists don’t buckle up behind the wheel. “Well, hopefully, it will remind people to buckle up each and every time no matter how short the distance you travel. You want to take that extra 2 to 3 seconds to properly buckle that seatbelt,” King said.  Troopers from the Marine Patrol Division were also on hand to display a jet ski simulator for waterway safety demonstrations. Rolf Wrona, Vice President of Human Resources at Mercedes-Benz United States International, says that the partnership with ALEA is good for the community. Thousands of his employees travel local Tuscaloosa County roads each day.  Wrona says Mercedes wants to do everything possible to help promote seatbelt safety. “Well, it clearly shows how critical it is for everybody to wearing their seatbelts on the highway,” Wrona said. “It is so important for their safety”. ALEA says 301 people have been killed on Alabama roads this year.  52 percent of the victims who lost their lives were not wearing seatbelts.  That is 83 more fatalities then this time last year.

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Fill the Truck! West Virginia State Troopers collect items for residents

fill the truckA local state trooper has organized a “Fill the Truck for West Virginia” drive, in hopes to collect items for residents affected by floods. Over 20 people died in the floods and thousands have lost everything in the natural disaster. Trooper Angela Shaffier may live and work in Central Virginia, but Greenbrier County, West Virginia, is her hometown. “Many people have lost everything they had and are living in shelters,” Shaffier said. “Those who were able to return home have no power, have lost so much and are cleaning up layers of mud after throwing out all of the furniture and appliance [s] that cannot be salvaged.” Shaffier plans to deliver the supplies to West Virginia on Friday, July 1.Cox Transportation donated a truck to haul the items. It is currently set up at 17347 Pouncey Tract Road in Rockville. Donations will be accepted beginning Tuesday morning. People wishing to contact Shaffier can send a message through the Facebook page: Fill the Truck for West Virginia. Shaffier said that any donation will be appreciated, and specific requests are needed for the following items:push brooms, powder lime, large trash bags, large trash cans, gloves, cleaning supplies, bleach, shop vacs, extension cords, shovels, Non-perishable food items, Diapers, wipes, baby formula, personal hygiene products, dog & cat food, coloring books & crayons, kids toys, furniture, blankets, fans, bed linens, towels, flashlights, batteries, cell phone chargers, bottled water, Gatorade, coolers.

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South Carolina Highway Patrol Using Emojis to Curb...

beresemojisSouth Carolina Highway Patrol Sgt. Bob Beres speaks in a language perhaps best understood by young people but nonetheless universal. His mom is Hungarian, and she speaks little English but she can understand. Spanish speakers can pick it up, so can foreign tourists and people who can't even read, Beres said. About 130 billboards inspired by Beres' language of choice have popped up across the state. He speaks fluent emoji. Those are the little graphic icons used in text messages and on social media. Think a cartoony thumbs-up and various smiley faces. The billboards show emojis representing an alcoholic drink, the plus sign and a car with an equal sign leading to a police car. The message is drinking and driving equals arrest. "It makes you stop and think about the message, which makes you remember it," said Cpl. Bill Rhyne, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol in Greenville. The emoji-based ad campaign will be spreading to iceboxes outside of convenience stores and gas pump handles this summer and will be on high school sports tickets starting with football games in August. There's not a whole lot new about the campaign, or even emojis, but it should prove effective, said Tharon Howard, a Clemson University professor who is director of the master's degree program in professional communications and whose research includes digital publishing. Howard said he was involved in a multimillion-dollar campaign with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in the 1990s using the same basic technology, called emoticons at the time. Graphic symbols supplementing the written word have a long heritage and have been called emoticons, Wingdings, dingbats and printer's ornaments, and way before that, cave paintings. Howard said he saw one of the Highway Patrol's billboards recently and it stuck with him. "I looked at it and tried to figure out the equation," he said. What makes the emojis stick is that they are little puzzles, Howard said. "People pause and try to figure out what they are saying, they decode the emojis and that's fun." It's a form of gamification, the idea that people will want to learn more and naturally retain more when something like advertising borrows the emotional payoffs people get from playing games, Howard said. "It's that impulse to solve problems and play games that really helps emojis reach across cultures," he said. Beres' Twitter posts regularly have detailed puzzles with dozens of emojis. Beres goes all in on the emojis, said Rhyne. "I can send a few emojis here and there," Rhyne said, "but not like the entire sentences using nothing but emojis that Bob can do with his creativity. At the end of the day, we all want to save lives. I don't care how we do it, whether it's through emojis, Facebook, Twitter or talking to people. This is just one of those things that makes you stop and think." As recently as nine months ago Beres had never used an emoji and now he is sought after by national advertising executives for his emoji skills. His first emojis were sent from his Twitter account (@TrooperBob_SCHP) shortly after the state's historic flooding in October, when Beres and other public safety officials were trying to make sure their messages got out. Beres said he found his emojis warning people about the flooding were being shared, and reaching more people, than pictures of trucks falling into sinkholes and getting far more traction than words alone. As he got deeper and deeper into emojis, the calls started pouring in from TV news stations from Connecticut and throughout the country. His emojis have been shared by tens of thousands of people and he was part of an emoji-based advertising campaign featuring State Farm's "Jake" spokesman. Beres said the emojis aren't going anywhere, he still gets hundreds of people interacting with him because he is speaking their language. "We want zero fatalities in South Carolina," Beres said. "Emojis have became a big hit and we didn't expect it." A new batch of 72 emojis was recently announced and should be available for use in the fall, featuring an avocado and icons for "rolling on the floor laughing" as well as clowns, whiskey glasses and stop signs. It'll give puzzlemaster Beres a few new pieces to put together.

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Hundreds of Missouri Students say Thank you to the Missouri State Highway Patrol

mshpMore than 400 students from the Iberia School District descended upon Missouri State Highway Patrol's (MSHP) Troop I headquarters earlier this month to say thank you to dozens of troopers from across the state. "We got a call from the school district and they said that the students wanted to thank us for our service," said Public Information Officer, Sgt. Cody Fulkerson, of Troop I. The field trip was part of Iberia's summer school program. Kids from pre-K to seventh grade participated along with 30 school staff membes. Thanks to some quick thinking from state troopers from around the state, the visit turned into not only a tour of Troop I's headquarters, but also a look at a number of activities and unique assignments that the highway patrol handles. "We had our canine unit here from Willow Springs, our helicopter unit flew in from Springfield and our local dive team was here," Fulkerson explained. Troop I serves six counties in South Central Missouri. They have 67 uniformed officers. "The kids really enjoyed stepping into the helicopter and checking out our scuba gear and of course enjoyed Trooper Mike Greenan and his dog Dake. The students didn't get back on their buses until they had a good old-fashion lunch of hot dogs, chips and sodas courtesy of some generous donations by local businesses. While the visit was certainly a great experience for the Iberia students, it was an equally touching moment for the state troopers. "This was the first time that we've ever had this large of a group come to our headquarter buildings. It made all of the troopers feel extremely humbled and blessed," Fulkerson said. "We were absolutely amazed at the thoughtfulness and the kindness of all of the students." In fact, Fulkerson said that before they students got back on their buses, a seventh grader asked if he could pray for the safety of the officers. "We were blown away," he noted. "All of the students created a circle around us troopers and held hands while this seventh grader prayed over us." Fulkerson added that in a day and age when so much negativity makes headline news, it was a real inspiration to see these students take their time to show their respect. He concluded," We are all so thankful from the bottom of our hearts."

 

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Rhode Island State Police recruits hit the boxing ring for training

In a garage on the campus of Rhode Island State Police headquarters in Scituate, the latest round of a long-running rite of passage is wrapping up. Recruits in the training academy put on headgear, wear mouthpieces, and wrap tape around boxing gloves before stepping through the ropes of a boxing ring.Rhode Island State Police argue the boxing program for recruits going through their training academy is as intense as any in the country for police. "I'd say it's pretty unique," Lt. Col. Kevin Barry told NBC 10 News. Boxing trainer Pete Grundy said, "We do like 10 full contact sessions. And nobody does that." Barry said recruits have been hurt, have been knocked out. "There have been recruits who've come to this phase of training and have decided it's not for them based on the fact that they got hit and that their reaction wasn't what would actually be able to save their life," Barry said. But he also said safety comes first. "They're well prepared for this," Barry said. "We don't just throw them in there." For more than 25 years, recruits coming through the academy have been under the boxing tutelage of Grundy, a long-time trainer who is quick with his hands and his instruction. "Be first. Nice. Move. Good. Move. Move. Good. Get out of there, Miguel. Beautiful," Grundy barked while moving around the ring as two recruits boxed. "Downstairs. Upstairs. To the body. Combinations," Grundy said while showing the moves recruits have learned. "There's nothing worse than throwing too many punches. Now you got no gas in the tank. What's going to happen if you're on the road and there's no gas in your tank? Now you're in trouble. What are they going to do? Get your gun? Kill you? Kill your partner? Kill the person on the scene?" The idea, they said, isn't as much about being able to throw a punch as it is being able to take one. "Being able to protect themselves is the key component here," Barry said. State Police leaders wouldn't let NBC 10 interview the recruits about taking punches. But the brass went through it when they were recruits, too, and pointed out a lot of recruits these days have probably never been in a fight before they enroll in the academy. "We want to see how they're going to react once they actually do get hit," Barry said. "Our fear is that we put somebody out on the street and that's the first time they've actually been in a physical confrontation." Addressing a question about liability concerns, Barry said, "Any time there's training like this, there's liability that goes with anything we do in law enforcement. I'm a firm believer in that that liability is mitigated by this training." He argued troopers will be better equipped to diffuse or deal with a fight when there is one, keeping their cool and keeping them from getting hurt. "As much as it is physical, it is mental," Barry said of the boxing. The current class of recruits is expected to graduate from the academy at the end of July. About half of the recruits who started the program have dropped out.

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Michigan State Police Bomb Squad Remove an Old Artillery Round From a House

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A woman found an artillery round while cleaning out her father's house in Traverse City, according to Traverse City Police. The artillery round is believed to be from the WWII era. The bomb was found in the 500 block of W. Ninth Street. According to the Traverse City Police Department, when they arrived on scene, officers could not determine if the 75 mm M48 artillery round was live or not. Police contacted Sgt. McNally, who is part of the Army EOD division at Camp Grayling, to help with the incident. Sgt. McNally responded to the scene and determined that the artillery round was not live. He was able to move it to the garage floor where it could be kept safely until it was picked up by the Michigan State Police Bomb Squad. Traverse City police contacted the Michigan State Police sent Sgt. Collard from the Bomb Squad to remove the artillery round. Sgt. Collard arrived around 10:30 a.m. Monday to remove and discard the artillery round. He says it was found filled with cigarette butts, and it appeared it had been used as an ashtray. 

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Montana Highway Patrol honors Woman Who Saved a Drunk Driver from Being hit by a train

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It came down to instinct. On the night of April 7, 33-year-old Kassia Finn was driving back to her Jackson Creek home after her book club in Bozeman went long. Finn had noticed when she took the exit that a train was coming and she wanted to make sure she drove quickly so she didn’t get stuck behind it. That’s when she noticed a car stuck on the tracks. As Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Zachary Grosfield explained, the driver of that car, an intoxicated woman who had spent the night drinking in downtown Bozeman, got lost looking for her Bozeman hotel and ended up at the Jackson Creek exit off of Interstate 90 — 10 miles east of Bozeman. “She thought the railroad tracks were the road to get back to Bozeman,” Grosfield said. Finn jumped into action, getting out of her vehicle to check on the driver. The woman asked Finn for a tow rope and, through her interactions with her, Finn quickly knew the woman was intoxicated. “Lots of stumbling,” Finn said, adding the woman was confused, saying she was tired and cared. With the train bearing down, the woman then got back into her car. Finn told her to get out, but she refused, claiming she was unwilling to leave her belongings behind. But Finn pulled the woman out, and just in the nick of time. Moments later, the train struck the car, destroying it. “She was crying and I was holding on to her,” Finn said. “It was a happy ending. Hopefully it turns her life around.” On Thursday, for her actions that April night, the Montana Highway Patrol awarded Finn with the Colonel’s Citation of Meritorious Service Award, an honor given to citizens who have helped in life-threatening situations. Grosfield called Finn “a true hero in our midst.” “Because of Miss Finn’s heroic actions, nobody was hurt that day,” Grosfield said in a short ceremony at MHP’s Bozeman district headquarters. Finn said after the ceremony that it feels strange to be called a hero. “Typically, I hear ‘mom,’” said the mother of three. But she said she felt honored to receive the award in front of her husband Ryan, children Layla, Nora and Liam, friends and MHP troopers. “I wasn’t expecting that at all. It’s exciting,” she said. But mostly she was relieved. Relieved that she could help the woman, who was later charged with a misdemeanor DUI, and relieved that it was a happy ending. “Thank goodness she didn’t hurt anyone else,” Finn said.

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Massachusetts State Police Invite a little girl to a K-9 Demonstration

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You may remember Cosette from a post in May. She was the little girl who went to school dressed as a "Massachusetts Police K9 Girl" and subsequently was made fun of because of it. Since then, troopers have visited her school and spoke with her and her classmates, and now, the State Police K-9 team invited her to a training day, along with Essex County Sheriff's K-9, Medford Police K-9, and Malden Police K-9. The teams gave her (and Mom) a private demonstration at the Troop A Headquarters in Danvers, then went to the Essex Technical High School for a demonstration, where Cosette was the guest of honor. Here are a few of the photos from the day. We look forward to seeing Cosette in the future as a K-9 handler!

 

Massachusetts State Police Facebook Post

 

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Connecticut K-9 Retires

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An important member of the State Police Troop G barracks will answer his last roll call this afternoon, before trotting off into retirement. Jorick, a 90-pound, 9 1/2 year old German Shepherd and his partner, Tfc.Alex Horjatschun, have handled a variety of calls in their eight years of service together, including solving the “Snow Bandits’’ case several years ago. Those thieves — so named because of their penchant for striking on winter days in bad weather — had not reckoned with Jorick, born and bred in Slovakia and used to the cold. Jorick has also found an elderly Greenwich woman with Alzheimers who’d wandered away from home, recovered stolen firearms and vehicles, and helped solve countless burglaries, Horjatschun said, including the recent break-in at a Bridgeport church. But all of that is ending for the trooper’s canine partner, who will be staying home when Horjatschun clocks in for his next 5:30 a.m. shift on Thursday. “There is no mandatory retirement, and his health is good,’’ the trooper said. “But I want him to enjoy his retirement; I don’t want anything to happen to him,’’ Horjatschun said during a brief visit to The Connecticut Post on Wednesday morning. The two have an unusually strong bond, even for cop-and-canine pairings. “The state police train donated dogs for this work, but I bought Jorick myself and donated him to the (state police), where he was assigned to me,’’ Horjatschun said. :”I got him when he was six months old and he stayed home with us until he was old enough to begin training’’ at 18 months. Jorick has a “light switch’’ that he can flip on and off, going from a trained police dog to a playful pet instantly, the trooper said. “If he senses that you’re not a threat there’s no problem. But he’s ready to go to work in a second.’’ Lt.Kenneth Cain, the Troop G commanding officer, said the trooper and his canine have been partners in a dynamic team. “Their teamwork found burglary suspects and located missing children and elderly persons. K9 Jorick led Trooper Horjatschun to find handguns tossed out of vehicles, as well as operators who have fled motor vehicle accidents on foot. It would be an understatement to say that I am very proud of this K-9 team and very sorry to see Jorick leave us.’’ Horjatschun‘s family includes another dog, a Rotweiller they enter in shows. But it is Jorick who leads the canine pack at home, the trooper said. “When we’re away for even a few hours, he’ll shred toilet paper and spread it through the halls. I’ll probably get some big cardboard boxes he can take apart while I’m at work.’’

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Virginia State Police attend Graduation of Fallen Trooper Dermyer's Daughter

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Virginia State Police made sure State Trooper Chad Dermyer’s daughter felt the presence of her father at her 5th grade graduation. Dermyer was fatally shot by James Brown III at the Greyhound bus station in Richmond on March 31, where police were holding a counter-terrorism training exercise. Brown, of Aurora, Illinois, was killed by two other state troopers after he opened fire. Many troopers attended the graduation and supported his daughter, Page, for her big achievement. She received the President’s Award for Academic Achievement, signed by President Obama himself. “VSP made sure that Page Dermyer had plenty of VSP Family in attendance of her 5th grade graduation to cheer her across the stage and let her know how much she and her father, Trooper Chad Dermyer, mean to us,” said Virginia State Police in a Facebook post.

Original Facebook Post

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Indiana State Police K-9 Retired

sabreSabre, an Indiana State Police dog with an impressive work resume, might be retiring but that won’t prevent him from spending time with his partner, Trooper Nick Meade. Instead of patrolling the Indiana Toll Road with Meade as he’s done the past seven years, Sabre will be retiring to Meade’s home, becoming a full-time pet to his handler. “I’m going to try to just let him be a dog,” Meade said. “There are certain things I could not do with him while he was working because I had to keep him in a work mindset and he’ll be able to do some of those things now.” Meade said retirement will not be easy for the dog after so many years on the job. “It’s going to be hard for him,” Meade said. “He’s been in the back of that police car for seven years working every day of his life and that’s what they’re bred to do. That’s what they were born to do. However, he’s done a good enough job for us over the years that I think he should be able to enjoy his retirement a little bit.” He recalled their biggest seizure, a drug bust of 234 pounds of marijuana that they found in the back of a truck. Meade said it was busts like that that made him happy to work with Sabre and proud of the hard work the dog put into the job. Together, Meade and Sabre are responsible for seizing almost $400,000 in currency, 14.8 pounds of heroin, 1,266 pounds of marijuana and 134 grams of cocaine, according to a state police news release. These busts have resulted in 80 criminal arrests. Meade will go down to Indianapolis Monday to pick out a new K-9 partner. The new dog will embark on a 14-week program in order to certify it through the International Police Work Dog Association. “The new dog’s going to have very big shoes to fill,” Meade said. “Sabre is a great dog and a great partner. It was nice to have him in the back of the car with me knowing he was there to protect me.”

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Massachusetts State Police Dog Named Rocky helped find a Missing Boy with Autism

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When an 11-year-old autistic boy went missing on Monday, a police dog named Rocky led first responders right to him. Police were called to a Hanson neighborhood at 8:30 p.m. Rocky, a Massachusetts State Police K9, was deployed to search neighborhood yards. “While checking a backyard, Rocky showed a change in behavior and pulled over to a large dirt hill at the back of the yard adjacent to railroad tracks,” said police. When officers reached the top of the hill, Rocky began barking at the thick brush below. That’s when paramedics swooped in and located the boy inside the brush, said police. The boy was evaluated and reunited with his family.

 

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A Mississippi boy becomes an Honorary Alaska State Trooper for a day!

A bright-eyed 11-year-old boy from Mississippi got to venture into Alaskan wilderness to meet his favorite state troopers this past week. But this isn’t just any boy, and these aren’t just any officers. Blaine Breaux has been battling cancer since he was 10. His cancer is acute lymphoblastic leukemia, to be exact, which affects blood cells and the immune system. ALL is a cancer of the bone marrow and blood, and progresses rapidly without treatment, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It starts in a stem cell in bone marrow, but can spread to other areas, such as the central nervous system and lymph nodes. As a result, the number of healthy blood cells in someone with ALL is often much lower than normal and necessary. “I ain't never been hit so hard in my life when they told me Blaine had cancer,” said Blaine’s dad, Perry Breaux. “It really tears you up.” Without good red cells, white cells and platelets, people with ALL often suffer from anemia, which can cause fatigue, shortness of breath and easy bruising; neutropenia, which makes it so the person’s immune system can’t guard him or her against infection; and thrombocytopenia, which can cause bleeding and bruising without apparent cause, according to LLS. “It's hard; things are different,” said Kim Breaux, Blaine’s mom. “We thought he just had the flu. Even the doctors told us, ‘You're gonna have a new way of living, and when your normal life comes back, when all this is done, you're gonna have to get used to living normal again.’” Blaine has had more than 20 spinal taps since being diagnosed with ALL. He does some form of chemotherapy every day, and had a blood transfusion shortly before traveling cross-country to the Last Frontier. He can’t eat raw foods and has to take methotrexate pills that knock him out for days at a time. Almost 25,000 are expected to die from leukemia in 2016 alone. But thankfully, Blaine is one of many children who have made it to what’s called the “maintenance” stage of ALL. It isn’t total remission, his mom said, but it means there’s a good chance Blaine will totally make it out of the woods, as it were. “When they came and told us, I was in shock, but I prepared myself,” Blaine’s mom Kim said. “I just had a feeling, for some reason. And then my thoughts were [around] having to go to a funeral home and make arrangements. It's crazy.” While treatments have pulled Blaine out of traditional schooling and put him in a hospital more often than not, thanks to the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Alaska State Troopers, Blaine got to forget about the cancer he’s courageously battling - at least, for a day. “He's not thinking about that right now,” Perry said. “He's thinking about how beautiful this is. And that's wonderful.” Because of an implanted port in his upper left chest for delivering cancer-fighting drugs, Blaine can’t play contact sports or do anything too physical. So these days, he’s playing a lot of golf. But he’s always been an avid hunter and wilderness explorer, and has always wanted to meet the everyday heroes from his favorite television show: Alaska State Troopers. “For someone in his condition, fighting the fight he's fighting, to want to spend the day with us, is pretty amazing,” said Sgt. Doug Massie of the Mat-Su West Post for Wildlife Troopers. “I'm honored.” So after a weekend of treatments, Blaine, along with his mom, dad, two brothers and grandmother, hopped on a flight to Alaska where Blaine’s wish was granted. And then some. “I can't explain it,” Blaine’s dad said. “It's just wonderful seeing Blaine light up.” Blaine met a full squad of troopers before becoming an honorary state trooper for the day. He hopped in a squad car and spent the morning reviewing fishing licenses and boating permits on the Susitna River. That was before checking in at a trooper cabin in the woods for lunch and taking an hour-long helicopter ride over Deshka Landing. “There aren't enough words to explain how exciting it is for him,” Blaine’s mom said. “It's just overwhelming.” And as it turns out, Blaine was inspiring his heroes. “A person that's fighting the battles he's fighting, fighting the illness he's fighting,” Massie said. “It totally puts life into perspective. What's important, what's not important. Those little things you kind of overlook? You pay a little more attention.”

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A Washington State Trooper helps a Homeless Family

LimboMurray Duncan and his fiancée, Alyssa Dunn, thought they had their lives planned out when they moved here from Delaware last month. Dunn had a job lined up as a gate agent at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and the couple had enough savings to live with their 6-month-old son in a hotel for about a month while they looked for an apartment. But after the transmission on their Hyundai Elantra blew out during the drive to Washington State, the couple found themselves broke and weeks away from Dunn’s first paycheck. After finding a Redmond church that offered overnight shelter, they decided to make an Interstate 5 rest area their home during the day, getting by on a patchwork of other social services. It’s not uncommon for the region’s homeless residents to spend their days at highway rest areas, although state law limits visits to eight hours at a time, according to the Washington State Patrol. Trooper Stephanie Bjorkman was tracking down witnesses for an investigation at the Sea Tac Rest Area along the freeway near Federal Way late last month when she encountered Duncan, 23, and his baby — new faces among the regulars. She decided to help the young family. “I see people who are in this permanent limbo phase because they’re not doing what they should be doing,” Bjorkman said. “(Duncan and Dunn) are in this limbo, but they’re trying to get out.” Bjorkman has helped the family get food, water and baby formula. She’s also provided Duncan and Dunn, 24, with information about free activity programs for kids so they can get the boy out of the car. Various churches and the Salvation Army provide the family with dinner Monday through Friday, but they have to find their own food on the weekends, so Bjorkman has been giving them restaurant gift cards. Bjorkman said once the family has proof of income with Dunn’s first paycheck in the coming days, they will be eligible for more state resources. But until then, Bjorkman has been taking it upon herself to help the family get food, water and baby formula. “Words can’t even explain,” Duncan said of Bjorkman’s help. “She’s definitely looked out for us, and we can’t thank her enough.” Troopers are regularly called out to direct homeless people away from rest areas, though the homeless often return later. Bjorkman said she sees both sides of the issue. “DOT wants their rules enforced, but oftentimes (homeless people) have nowhere else to go,” she said. For now, Bjorkman continues to check in on the family, providing help when she can. Dunn said she and Duncan were recently accepted into the state’s Diversion Cash Assistance program, which will provide them with temporary aid for housing once they sign an apartment lease. The couple recently found an apartment, and they’re waiting to hear when they can move in. Duncan plans to start working once they get established. In February, King County Executive Dow Constantine and other regional leaders and homeless advocates announced $17 million in county funding for new, affordable housing units and emergency shelter in the county, some of it aimed specifically at South and East King County. A count last year put Washington’s homeless population at 19,418, with King County accounting for 52percent of the total. Dunn said she wishes there were more transitional homes in the area for people who already have jobs. She described one shelter the family stayed in as being infested with bedbugs. Bjorkman said providing the family with assistance has been a great counterbalance to the type of work she usually deals with as a trooper. “You’re never sure how they’re going to react,” Bjorkman said. “From what they’ve told me and what I’ve seen, I feel like it’s going to help them move out of this period.” She said troopers often help the homeless in smaller ways, recalling a former colleague whose wife would make extra sandwiches for him to give to those in need. “That’s sort of the way a lot of these troopers are,” said State Patrol spokesman Chris Webb. “They do these things and you don’t find out about it — sometimes until six months later.”

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Local Elementary School gets help from Connecticut State Police to teach the students about science in the community

CTBy the end of Deans Mill School’s annual Science and Tech Day last Thursday, young Josie Hatch could dust for fingerprints like a pro. “You put your hand on paper and then you swirl around the brush, and then you find a fingerprint,” Josie, a 6-year-old kindergarten student, said. “It was pretty neat.” Josie and her classmates learned a little about DNA, the tools investigators use at crime scenes and the inside of a police vehicle from the Connecticut State Police on a day educators at Deans Mill set aside every year for students to learn how science and technology is used in the real world. “We teach them how science helps police work,” Detective Karen O’Connor, a polygraph examiner with the State Police, said. “We look at fingerprint patterns and the technology in police cars. Technology has completely enhanced everything.” Students from kindergarten through Grade 4 received lessons on everything late last week — from robotics to plankton and its place in the food chain to how liquid nitrogen freezes objects. Local businesses like Pfizer and teacher and student groups from Stonington High and Mystic Middle also presented. “A lot of the parents of our kids help out, too,” said Kristen Morehouse, a kindergarten teacher. “That way, students find out about what adults in the community do.” Members of Mystic Middle School’s SeaPerch team, who advanced to a second consecutive national competition this spring, talked to the younger students about the afterschool program. In SeaPerch, students design and build ROVs, underwater remotely operated vehicles. “We’re trying to teach them about designing ROVS so when they go on to college maybe they can find a job,” Mystic Middle sixth-grader Baxter Menzies said, standing outside a large tank filled with water and various ROVs. “You learn about engineering, and it’s fun, too. “Not a lot of people can build robots like this. At our school, it’s something you can do.” Elsewhere in Deans Mill’s building, Stonington High students helped teach youngsters about the science of roller coasters and worked in small groups to design and build a working roller coaster, using pipe insulation for tracks and a marble for the car. “We tested out all of the tracks,” second-grader Eli Iovino, 7, said. “We learned how you can do stuff with science and technology. If you don’t know science, you won’t know how to do very much.” For kindergartner Maddie Johnson, her favorite part of the day was learning how to be a detective. “It was cool,” Maddie, 5, said. “We got to push buttons while sitting in the police car.”

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