A Washington State Trooper helps a Homeless Family
Murray 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.”
Local Elementary School gets help from Connecticut State Police to teach the students about science in the community
By 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.”
Kindergarten Class Rewards Massachusetts State Trooper for his Act Kindness
The Massachusetts State Trooper who gained accidental fame for an act of kindness last month was paid back in kind on Friday when a Hudson kindergarten class invited him to lunch. Trooper Luke Bonin was leaving court in May when he spotted a panhandler on the side of the road in Fall River. Bonin went to a nearby restaurant and returned with lunch, after which the two shared a meal. The good deed may have gone unnoticed if not for a passerby who was touched by the scene and posted a photo on Facebook. From that point, the photo began being shared and the story was picked up by news sites throughout the country. One month later, it was Bonin's turn to have lunch bought for him. "Well, after Mrs. Mullen's Kindergarten class at Farley Elementary School in Hudson saw Trooper Bonin's kindness, one of the kindergarteners, yes that's right, one of the students, thought it would be a great idea to pay it forward and invite Trooper Bonin to lunch at the school," a post on the State Police Facebook page states. The class first made a banner to thank Bonin, which Mullen shipped to the Dartmouth Barracks at which he works. Afterwards, Mullen extended the invitation for Bonin to speak to the class and to have lunch at the school. "When Trooper Bonin arrived, he was welcomed with open arms and began with reading the class a book," the post states. "He also brought with him a globe and asked each student to put a fingerprint on the globe, while he talked to them about 'leaving a positive mark on the world' as they grow older, to do nice things for people and it will come back around to them, as good things will happen to them." The real reward though may have been for the students who, after lunch, had a chance to check out Trooper Bonin's cruiser, play with the lights and talk over the PA system. "Trooper Bonin was the star in Hudson today! However, he appreciated being invited and the chance to spend time with the class more than the children enjoyed having him," the post states. "Thank you again to Mrs. Mullen's kindergarten class."
Driver Arrested After Hit and Run in Tampa
The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a wild hit-and-run caught on video in Tampa. Cell phone video shows what appears to be a driver of a silver car deliberately plow down two people on a motorcycle. The incident happened on US 41 and County Line Road around 5:35 p.m. on Monday. According to witness, Abe Garcia, who captured the incident on video, the driver of the motorcycle confronted the driver of the car after he witnessed the car cut the motorcyclist off. "The guy driving the car was driving recklessly, like crazy out of control," Garcia said. "I saw him almost run one of the bikers over, like off the side of the road. So, then the bikers caught up to him at a red light and words started exchanging, and then the guy went complete psychopath." That's when Garcia said the driver, who authorities later identified as 31-year-old Robert Vance, deliberately tried to run the man and woman over. "The guy tried to kill them," Garcia said. "It was a red light and then it turned green. He could've just gone straight, but he went for the biker." Action News has reached out to the Florida Highway Patrol and is awaiting an official report. Troopers arrested Vance down the road about five minutes after the incident. He had damage to his car consistent with the crash. Both passengers on the motorcycle were taken to the hospital and are expected to be okay. "I knew something was going to go down... I didn't know that extreme at all. But, people are crazy man. Anywhere your life could end instantly," Garcia said. Vance is no stranger to the law. His rap sheet includes habitual traffic offenses and arrests for drugs and violence. He now faces charges including leaving the scene of a crash and aggravated battery. Vance admitted to investigators he hit the victims and left the scene.
Massachusetts State Trooper Saved a Woman from a burning car
A decorated state trooper is being hailed as a hero after rescuing a 23-year-old woman just moments before flames engulfed her car. Trooper Glenn Witaszek — who earned the Medal of Valor in 2013 after a 2012 shootout in Chicopee — received a report of a single-car crash on the Mass Pike in Palmer yesterday. As he approached, he saw the car in the woods with smoke coming from it. He recounted the rescue to the Herald’s Chris Villani. Luckily, I was there within a matter of moments. The vehicle was already in flames … the engine compartment and the front seat were in flames. The vehicle was on its side, basically wrapped around a tree, and the roof area was smashed down. The damage to the vehicle was tremendous, even minus being caught on fire. I parked about 20 feet away and ran toward the vehicle. I could hear a woman screaming, I noticed she was in the back seat area, screaming for help. With the vehicle on its side, it’s hard to push a door up to get out. It’s hard for one person to do it, never mind with a broken arm. Plus there was too much damage from the car, I am not sure that door was going to open at all. I told her, ‘Watch out, I am going to break the back window.’ I broke the window using an ASP, a baton, and was able to get her out of the vehicle. She was covered in blood, but I didn’t see any burn marks on her. She said her left arm hurt and she thought it was broken. Her father told me later that her left arm was broken, but no major, serious injuries. It was only a matter of moments before the rest of the car caught on fire and it was fully engulfed before the fire department got there. I brought her back to my cruiser. She was thankful … she had some cuts, but nothing was gushing blood at the time. She was grateful she was rescued. It’s a lot of trauma to be in that position to even think straight. It was a matter of timing. If I was there a minute or two later, I think I could have gotten her out, but she would have had some burns on her. Much longer after that, in my opinion, I don’t think she would have been alive. I have seen cars on fire … but not to that extent. I have seen where a little bit of the car is on fire … most of the time people get themselves out. This is the first time I have had to pull someone out of a car that was halfway on fire. Any other police officer would do the exact same thing. I don’t see myself as a hero. It’s very flattering, but I am doing my job. I am out there to protect people and keep people safe
Illinois State Trooper Performs Taps out of Sense of Service
It's a service that takes less than one minute to perform. But the memory Mike Atkinson creates by playing taps at memorial services and funerals is far more lasting. "They call it the 24 most difficult notes for a trumpeter," said Atkinson, 48, who lives in Urbana with his wife and three children. He is one of five trumpeters employed by the Illinois State Police who volunteer their musical skills to pay honor to others. "It's all volunteer. I do it on duty, but it's based on operational need. If I'm in the middle of a case, I can't," said Atkinson, a 21-year veteran of the state police. A master sergeant, Atkinson supervises the general crimes division and the methamphetamine response team for the state police zone based in Champaign. "Our unit concentrates on violent crimes, public integrity and major cases," he said. It's Atkinson who is among the first called if an area police officer shoots someone or is shot. "The Illinois State Police is really good about letting me do it if I can. When I retire, it's something I want to do much more often," he said. Atkinson grew up in Bethany and first picked up the trumpet when he was in fifth grade. His chops must have developed quickly because his father, who was an honor guard commander in the American Legion, and his mother, in the Legion Auxiliary, persuaded him as a sixth-grader to play taps at veteran funerals in town. "I can remember in junior high practicing taps out the bedroom window when the opposing football team would walk from the high school to the field. That was inappropriate, I'm sure," he said, chuckling at the memory. "I got into trouble for that from my dad." In high school, he was a member of the marching band and credited "the world's greatest band teacher, Marty Lindvahl" with helping to hone his craft. He continued to play for funerals while in high school and occasionally when home from college at Eastern Illinois University. As a teen, he was aware of his contribution. "It was remarkable being out there in a cemetery with Legion members doing honor guard, a rifle volley, and then playing taps," he said. After graduating college, Atkinson began his foray into law enforcement as a telecommunicator and auxiliary deputy for the Moultrie County sheriff's office. After a year there, he became a police officer for the Illinois Commerce Commission, holding that post until 1994 when he joined the state police. "I put my trumpet in the closet. I just got too busy," he said. Several years ago, his attendance at a service where a recording of taps was being played got to him. "I saw one of the Legion honor guard members using an electronic bugle. It looks like it has a mute in the end. But it's a speaker that plays a perfect rendition of taps." "Honest to goodness, I was ashamed of myself because I had left my trumpet in a closet. I could have volunteered to do that had I only kept up my playing," he said. "That's when I fast-forwarded to my midnights master sergeant who was on the trumpet team and I thought, 'I should look into that.'" His good intention to get back into playing taps at funerals didn't happen immediately. In 2014, he was carting his children to the Community Center for the Arts in Urbana for music lessons on their stringed instruments when he got involved with a fun adult group there called "The Marvelous Cretaceous Band." "The leader, Tom Faux, for some reason, let me play the trumpet. I played in that band and I got my embouchure back," he said of the facial configuration needed for a brass mouthpiece. "They call it getting your chops in shape. I had had roughly 25 years without playing so it took me a while to get it back. After I did that for a while, I thought, 'I'm going to see if I can play in the state police.'" Atkinson is one of five state troopers from all over Illinois on the honor guard trumpet team. He's been performing since June 2014, averaging eight to 10 ceremonies each year. "There's me, a patrol lieutenant from District 9 in Springfield, a crime-scene investigator from the Champaign office, a special agent from the division of internal investigations from Springfield, and a patrol trooper from Joliet," he said. They play for state police events like recruit or cadet graduations but also at statewide memorial events for fallen police officers or a veterans event that Secretary of State Jesse White hosts at the state library in Springfield. "Peoria, Carlinville are the farthest I've traveled. The most I've done in a day is two services in Peoria. This is a big time of year because of the Illinois Police Memorial" held in early May, he said. There may be one, two or three trumpeters at a time depending on the event, the music played and their availability. Getting away from work is not always easy. Besides taps, they also play the Star Spangled Banner, which has three parts. It's not until they arrive at the event that they decide who will play which part. "With 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' it's always a three-person team. We can use music on that," he said appreciatively. "Memorizing three different parts is difficult for my old brain." Asked what he likes to play best, Atkinson said without hesitation that it's taps. That's because of the solemn nature of the events where taps is performed. "It's normally chaos for me with cases and callouts," he said of his daily grind. "With taps, I have to completely unplug from investigations, calls, callouts, and be 100 percent in the moment. That is absolutely the only time my phone is not on my person, except when I'm sleeping but it's within arm's reach." And while his taps performance takes only 48 seconds, it is preceded by hours of travel and practice, often done outdoors. "If it's really cold outside, brass instruments are affected. It helps to play in a lower key because if it's really cold, it can get really, really sharp and their tuning goes haywire," he said. He also has to worry about wind taking his dress uniform hat. Mostly, he frets over the undivided attention. "When it's time to sound taps, it's usually after three rifle volleys and it's just silent. You are totally exposed," he said. "There is no band behind you, no percussion, no rhythm section." Performance anxiety kicks in. And it's difficult and emotional if he's playing at the funeral of someone he knows personally. "In a solo at a band performance, you want to do good for yourself. For me, I'm always afraid I'm not going to do good enough for the person. That's the nerve-wracking part." And when the performances are over, there are usually grateful groupies. "Folks thank us for doing this," he said. "I feel just the opposite. I'm flattered that people ask me to do this. It is my honor."
California Highway Patrol Officer Rescues a Seal
Over the weekend Officer Alameda found a seal stranded on Highway 1 near Marina. Officer Alameda put the seal in his patrol vehicle and transported him to the Marine Mammal Center. During their initial contact Officer Alameda mistook the seals signs of affection and gratefulness as hostile bites. Officer Alameda and the seal made up and left each other on good terms.
New Jersey Trooper gets student to exam on time
A recent 911 call for service to the New Jersey State Police did not turn out to be the usual call for a disabled vehicle on the Garden State Parkway. On May 4, at 9:02 a.m., a call came into the Galloway State Police Station for a vehicle fire on the roadside at milemarker 61.2 in Eagleswood Township. Trooper Kimberly Snyder said she was the closest trooper in the area and rushed to the scene. When Snyder arrived she said she could see smoke billowing from the engine of a 2005 Nissan Frontier. “When I got there I found out he actually blew out his radiator and it was overheating,” said Snyder. She called for a tow truck and the driver John Lancellotti explained he was driving to take a final exam at Stockton University at 10 a.m. Lancellotti said his parents were working out of the area and couldn’t come to pick him up. It was then that Snyder said she made a decision to make sure Lancellotti arrived on time to take his final exam. Snyder, 35, said Stockton University is part of her patrol area, so she drove Lancellotti to the school. “He told me his father is retired from the job and he really appreciated that I did that for him. It was important for me to do it because he seemed like a good kid and he needed help to get there,” she said. “I felt bad he had to roll up in a troop car, but he made it on time. I was just doing my job,” said Snyder, an 11-year veteran of the State Police. A statement from the State Police this week said, that in a situation like this, a trooper is required to relay a stranded motorist to a safe area where the motorist can make arrangements for a ride home. But Snyder went above and beyond the call of duty, the release said. “Not too often do we come in contact with people on good terms. Usually they’re not happy, especially if we have to write them a ticket and it’s bad circumstances. It’s nice to do something under good circumstances,” Snyder said. A letter to State Police from Lancellotti’s parents said the ride from Snyder was a big deal to them and to their son. The letter said they were touched by Snyder’s professionalism and character and they were extremely grateful that she helped their son during a very stressful time.
New Jersey State Trooper Gives Two Students a ride to prom
Two Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Sciences students arrived in style at their prom Friday night. No, it wasn't a stretch limo or party bus. Rather, the two 17-year-old students, Edward Fengya and Reno D'Agostini, were escorted to the school's prom in a New Jersey State Police cruiser. That's because the car they were in, a 2003 Lincoln Town Car, became disabled after it crashed into a utility pole off the Garden State Parkway. Fengya had borrowed the car from his mother. And as the two headed to the prom, traveling southbound on the Parkway, the vehicle careened off the side of the highway and struck a utility pole shortly before 5:30 p.m., State Police said in a Facebook post. State Police Troopers Chris Jones and Charles Garrison responded to the crash. The two boys weren't injured but time was ticking away to the start of the prom. With little convincing, Fengya and D'Agostini hopped into Jones' State Police patrol cruiser, and off to the yacht club on Long Beach Island they went. When they arrived at the venue, Fengya and D'Agostini exited the patrol car and received a paparazzi-like welcoming from their fellow students. Jones walked up to the chaperon with the two students and said, "Hey, do these two belong to you?" according to the State Police post. After a handshake, Jones left and the two students enjoyed the prom. "We all hope that our children have good memories of their prom," State Police said. "We hope that they get there safe, and that they come home safe."
Massachusetts State Trooper Shares a meal with a homeless woman
A Selfless Meal, and Conversation, for Two
We were shown this picture from a third-party who had not taken the photo, nor knew anything about it, other than they thought it was taken in Fall River. After a little digging, we were able to locate the citizen who had taken the photo. The citizen said the well-dressed Trooper in a suit appeared to be having lunch with a panhandler on Davol Street in Fall River. The citizen was struck by what he saw, snapped the photo, and posted it to a Facebook group in Fall River, captioned “And they say chivalry is dead…….Much respect.” We are grateful to that person, who thought to take the photo and share it.
After a little more digging, we found out the trooper is Luke Bonin, who is assigned to the State Police Dartmouth Barracks. After reaching out to Trooper Bonin, he was a bit surprised that someone had taken his photo, stating that he wasn’t seeking or expecting any publicity for it. But we pressed him, and he very reluctantly told us how he ended up sitting on his cruiser’s bumper that day sharing lunch with a stranger.
Trooper Bonin had just left court when he drove by the woman, who appeared down on her luck. She was holding a sign and asking for help from anyone who would pay attention. Trooper Bonin continued to drive on – directly to a local establishment, where he ordered two meals. He returned to the woman, pulled up, and exited his cruiser. Thinking he was there to remove her from the side of the road, she immediately stated to him that she would leave, that she knew she shouldn’t be there with her sign. But Trooper Bonin told her, “I’m not here to kick you out.” He then extended the two meals and told her to pick one.
They then sat, shared a meal, and a conversation.
Yes, Trooper Bonin, we know you do not want or expect publicity. We know you didn’t want to be noticed, but you were, and the job is proud of you. We commend you for your selfless act, and for “doing the right thing” for someone less fortunate than most people.
We have extraordinary troopers on the Massachusetts State Police who conduct themselves honorably, and perform selfless acts, every day. Most times, it goes unnoticed. But not this day.
Pennsylvania State Trooper Rescued a Woman from a House Fire
Chet Bell with the Pennsylvania State Police Greensburg barracks says he would do it all over again. “I took an oath as a Pennsylvania State trooper to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth and it’s something everyday. I’m always working 24/7, it’s just second hand,” Bell said. Bell lives on Thornton Avenue in Hempfield Township, a few doors down from the home where the fire happened around 11:30 Saturday morning. He was eating lunch before his shift when he heard about the fire on the scanner, then jumped into action. “I had a fire extinguisher with me and I knocked down the fire until the fire department could get there and put some water on it,” Bell said. When he got inside, he found a woman in her 80s in a wheelchair in the kitchen. “When I kicked in the door, the smoke was banked down five to six feet off the ceiling and I could hear fire in house and just yelled to see where she was in the kitchen,” Bell said. Bell managed to pull her out the back door. It’s unclear if a toaster sparked the fire or something the woman sat next to it. “It was a situation that could have been out of control in seconds and fortunately I was in the right place at the right time,” Bell said. Volunteer firefighters with Hempfield Towship were there within minutes after Bell. “Once the fire started, you have minutes to get out of the room. It fills up with smoke rather fast especially a source of oxygen,” Fire Chief with Hempfield VFD No. 2 Tom Kline said. Fortunately, the woman was okay when paramedics checked her over, and so was her cat. “She’s very lucky Chet was there within seconds to get her out,” Kline said. “It’s just nice being able to help someone out when they need help that’s all. Especially in your own neighborhood,” Bell said. The fire chief says the woman is staying with family members until an electrical inspection is done and her kitchen is remodeled.
Massachusetts State Police Show up to Support a 3 year old Girl
A 3-year-old girl who was bullied for dressing up as a Massachusetts State Police officer at school got some support from state troopers who wanted her to know that she can be anything she wants, including a police officer. When Cosette dressed up as a “Massachusetts Police K-9 Girl” for her library group’s gathering, some of her classmates singled her out for “not being as cool as them,” according to a State Police Facebook post. Many of the other girls were dressed as Disney princesses, police said. Cosette was clad in all black with a “Police” shirt and a Massachusetts State Police hat, and was holding a fluffy stuffed dog. The girl was heartbroken, police said. So two troopers made a special trip to the school to teach the class that girls can be whatever they want. Cosette’s classmates were receptive, police said. “Long discussions about Ninja Turtles, Captain America and their important craft projects followed,” the post said.
6 year old Runs for Family of Fallen Virginia State Trooper Chad Dermyer
A Gloucester 6-year-old had an idea and he is running with it — literally. Braxton Lee says the news of State Trooper Chad Dermyer’s death hit his heart so hard, that he’s hoping to run more than 27 miles to raise donations for the fallen Trooper’s family. Lee plans to run nine 5K races for Trooper Dermyer, 37, who was fatally shot in March at a Richmond bus station during a VSP training exercise. He leaves behind a wife and two kids in Gloucester County. Lee wrote a letter to the Virginia State Police asking if he could donate money to the family of the fallen Trooper. They said, “OK.” “I will run a marathon for his family,” said Lee. “I feel very sad for them.” Some could call him a pocket-sized runner. He stands ‘tall’ at 3 foot 5 inches and he weighs 45 pounds. However, Braxton is a first grader who has crossed more finish lines than many adults. “I’m running for someone who got shot,” said Lee. “I think that nobody shouldn’t have done that. I’ve seen pictures of him.” He says the photos are pictures of a hero. Trooper Chad Dermyer is a man who Lee has never met, but amazingly enough, he’s a stranger who is pushing him to go the extra mile… or 27 miles. Lee is going the distance to make sure the Dermyer family gets the happiness he says they deserve. “Somebody shot a policeman and his kids probably miss him. I think that wasn’t very nice,” said Lee. Lee already has a few medals under his belt, but the medals are not what he is after in all of this. He says the family of Trooper Dermyer is the sole thing that is pushing him toward more finish lines. “I am running in honor and memory of trooper Chad Dermyer,” said Lee. “I think they are very sad right now [and] I think he should still be there for his family.” His mother, Mary Anne Lee, says she is proud of her son. “What’s driving him is that he couldn’t imagine being without his father and he can’t imagine what these kids are going through and that’s what is really motivating him,” said Lee. Lee came about the idea when he was eating at Chik-fil-A with his family. His mother says he saw a donation jar for Trooper Dermyer’s family, asked about it and from that moment on, he decided he was going to donate money in his honor. Lee may have little sneakers, size 12 to be precise, but he has a big goal in mind and he is determined. In a letter to Virginia State Police he writes: “I will run in his memory. Please donate money for his family. Love, Braxton Lee. Six-years-old.” Donations can be sent to: VSPA Emergency Relief Fund, 6944 Forest Hill Ave., Richmond, VA 23225. Write: Trooper Dermyer in the memo line.
Two Massachusetts State Troopers Rescue a Baby Deer
A pair of Massachusetts State Police troopers rescued a baby deer that was attempting to cross a Shelburne highway. Sgt. Brian Gladu and Trooper Sean LeBlanc found the fawn struggling to cross Route 2 on Wednesday morning. “The animal appeared injured, or might have just been having trouble adjusting to its new legs, as it appeared to be only a few weeks old,” State Police said in aFacebook post. The troopers placed the fawn in their cruiser while they consulted with a local veterinarian. After providing the animal with some food, troopers released it into a safe area nearby.
The Singing Illinois state trooper
As he completed his studies to become an Illinois state trooper in 2010, Jonn-Paul Oliveto was pulled out of class and into a room where he stood opposite a captain, sergeant and master sergeant. To earn a passing mark, he had to sing the National Anthem. “I had an appointment to perform in front of them, without any rehearsal, so you can imagine my nerves,” recalls Oliveto, a trooper who works the Chicago area for the state police today. “But I’d come up with an idea: Instead of having the bagpipes play the National Anthem for our graduation ceremony, I would sing it.” And sing it he certainly did, to the point where the notes resonate to this day. Oliveto — who has no formal training whatsoever in the music department — has now become a go-to vocalist whenever the state police hold important functions. After his unconventional audition, “I sang the National Anthem at our graduation as something I would give to my class. And from then on all the higher-ups in the state police suggested that I keep doing it, and it’s an honor to keep doing it.” He was even tapped to sing the American and Canadian National Anthems at the International Chiefs of Police Association convention in Chicago. For Oliveto, the musical honor comes as an extension of his Italian upbringing. His parents, who both claim Calabrese heritage, were born overseas (his father in Italy, his mother in Argentina). “I started singing when I was much younger, probably around 12 or 13 years old,” Oliveto says. “I’ve always had a passion for my music and probably took after my paternal grandmother. She was always singing around the house.” And that’s about all the musical schooling Oliveto has ever known. A baritone, he credits his ability to regular singing over the years; he’s also a fan of contemporary classic arias, while comparing his vocal style to that of Josh Groban. The word on his singing ability has spread beyond the law enforcement ranks. He sang before Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a host of other dignitaries at Judy Baar Topinka’s memorial service. And in February, Oliveto sang the American and National Anthems at Casa Italia’s Person of the Year Gala. That evening, he stepped into the spotlight with 800 pairs of eyes and ears focused entirel on him. “It was nerve wracking, but as a performer it’s always to my benefit,” he says. “With solo singing or public performance, there are always some nerves to deal with. But that’s what makes it even more powerful — and it was an honor to be part of that event.” To a large extent, the event’s aim dovetails with Oliveto’s chief passion as an artist. “I’m committed to preserving our culture,” he says. “That’s really integrated into my background and upbringing — and it’s truly a gift, something we have to keep. I carry on my grandparents’ teachings, their beliefs, their culture.”