Nevada Highway Patrol debuts patrol cars with 'ghost markings' that are tougher to see
Keep your eyes peeled, speeders, tailgaters and otherwise reckless drivers, it's about to get a little tougher to identify some Nevada Highway Patrol vehicles. A handful of patrol vehicles are being outfitted in a new "ghost" regalia, rather than Nevada Highway Patrol's normally eye-catching markings. The goal, according to a press release, is to increase enforcement efforts, "specifically targeting hazardous moving violations such as reckless driving as well as distracted driving, impaired driving, speeding and seat belt enforcement." Trooper Matt McLaughlin said the hope is that the new vehicles will be more difficult for erratic or aggressive drivers to spot and avoid. "(Aggressive drivers) will see a patrol car and they'll change their behavior," McLaughlin said. "So the thought process behind a subdued or a specially marked patrol vehicle, is that they may not be able to see us and we can observe those violations and get that person stopped before something bad does happen." Troopers driving the discretely-marked vehicles will have the same enforcement abilities as a Trooper driving a normally marked vehicle. The vehicles still bear many calling cards of a patrol car, such as a large grill and faintly visible lights, but many of the normally large reflective Nevada Highway Patrol insignias and markings are only faintly visible on the "ghost" vehicles. Just three patrol cars will be outfitted with the new markings at first, but more will likely be added.
When a boy from Brooklyn asked for help, the Rhode Island State Police answered
Corporal Lawens Fevrier got the mail on a fall day last year at the Hope Valley Barracks of the Rhode Island State Police. What he found was pretty unusual—a letter postmarked from Brooklyn, New York. “Dear Rhode Island State Highway Patrol,” the letter read. “I lost my Roger...can you please find him? I love him,” the writer said. “Roger is a cheetah,” the writer added, with a hand-drawn photo of Roger. “He fell out of the car window on Interstate 95 around West Greenwich. He is about 12 inches long.” It was signed: Will Ketcher, 4 years old. Fevrier said he was touched by the letter, thinking of his own young sons at home. “I know how important it is for them to sleep with their blankets or stuffed animal,” he said. “We were all 4 years old at one time in our lives.” Will’s mom, Stephanie Ketcher, says the family was never expecting to hear back from the state police. “The letter was never designed to be effective,” Ketcher said in a FaceTime interview from Brooklyn. She said the family had been visiting Will’s aunt at the University of Rhode Island when Will was hanging his stuffed cheetah out the window. The stuffed animal then flew out onto the highway. “That instantaneous reaction of...’I told you not to do that, I knew he was going to fly out the window,’” Ketcher said. “That quickly went away when I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw his sweet, sad face crumple up.” With the 4-year-old’s prize possession gone, the family determined it was unsafe to stop and try and retrieve it on I-95. In an attempt to quell Will’s devastation, Ketcher said Will’s dad suggested they write a letter. “Let’s write to the state police and try to get Roger back,” Ketcher said. The idea came from a scene in the Charlie Brown comic strip where Linus, desperate to recover his lost blanket that Lucy had used as a kite, puts an ad in the local paper asking for help finding it. In the comic strip, the “Air Rescue Service” eventually finds it floating over the Pacific Ocean. In Roger’s story, officials were not so lucky. Fevrier says troopers were on the lookout for the stuffed cheetah on I-95 but fell short. “We actually did send search and rescue out there,” he quipped. “Unfortunately, it was raining and we just couldn’t find the one that he lost.” A number of months went by. Then, one day Ketcher arrived home in Brooklyn and saw a package waiting. “I saw the return label on the box and I couldn’t even believe it,” she said. When the family opened the box, there was a brand new stuffed cheetah for Will—and a letter from the Rhode Island State Police. “On behalf of the Rhode Island State Police, we are so sorry that Roger was lost,” the note read. “We spent days looking for him on the highway. We couldn’t find him. We did find another cheetah walking around the highway. We stopped to talk to him. He said that he was looking for a new home in the Big Apple and we thought of you. Before we sent him to you we had to make him a Cheetah Trooper. The first cheetah trooper in the history of the Rhode Island State Police.” “He went right along with the narrative that we had created for Will,” Ketcher said. “Everybody we have told this story to is moved almost to tears. Some actually to tears.” Ketcher said the gesture “restored her faith in humanity.” “There’s so much negative stuff going on in the world, we’re inundated with it... it’s so refreshing to have something like this happen that just reminds you that there are really good people out there,” she said. When asked why he went above and beyond to help an out-of-state kid, Fevrier’s answer was simple. “We take every case serious, whether it’s a crime scene or a letter from Will,” Fevrier said. “We just wanted to...make him happy.” Over FaceTime, 4-year-old Will was certainly happy—thanking the state police and telling us he gave his new cheetah a very fitting name: “Rhody.”
Massachusetts State trooper meets newborn baby after helping rush mom to hospital
Mariana and Isaac Merino are all smiles. Their bundle of joy was delivered safely and just in the nick of time all thanks to Massachusetts State Police Trooper Daniel Gill. “I had to step it up a little bit and get here,” Trooper Gill said, talking about his mad dash to the hospital for the delivery of Samuel Alexander Mello Merino who was born on Father’s Day. Mariana said she went into labor Sunday morning. Dad was in Boston stuck in traffic so Mariana had a friend drive her to the hospital. On the way, they spotted Trooper Gill on the side of the highway issuing a ticket to another driver. “As soon as we pulled over another contraction started so I was like tapping on the windowlooking at him and I wanted to say something, but I couldn’t say anything,” Mariana Merino said. Trooper Gill immediately placed her into his cruiser and double-timed it to St. Vincent Hospital, the same hospital where he had his own two children. “The blue lights helped us cut through traffic so we were able to get their quicker than mom would have,” Gill said. On Tuesday, Gill met with the family and held Sammy for the first time. “It’s excellent especially happening on Father’s Day it was very special,” Gill said. Sammy is 6lbs 13oz and happy to be on his way home. “Thankfully Officer Gill was here and he really helped out my family. It’s my best Father’s Day yet,” Isaac Merino said.
First woman to win Maine State Police Trooper of the Year award
"The four core values of the Maine State Police. Integrity, fairness, compassion, and excellence.” Excellence was on display at the Maine State Police annual awards ceremony. Awards were given to troopers who went above and beyond expectations, and to civilians whose actions saved lives. The ceremony also recognized retired Trooper Michael Vittum of Brewer with the legendary trooper award. "Quite a surprise, very good! To be honored by the State Police like this is something I didn't expect but very pleasing." Vittum served the State Police for twenty years and was Trooper of the Year in 1982. The 2017 Trooper of the Year award went to Detective Lauren Edstrom of Biddeford. "The journey of earning the title of trooper was life changing. Until I became a mother, there was no prouder title for me. As the first female trooper of the year. I am so grateful for the impact I hope this will have on my 8-year-old daughter Grace. I catch her putting my Stetson on, putting my boots on sometimes and walking around the house. I catch her looking in the mirror. She's my biggest fan."
Two sons follow father's footsteps to become Virginia state troopers
The only thing Matthew and Jacob Burgett liked more than playing cops and robbers was a TV show that depicted the same thing. Seeing real-life officers bust the bad guys on “COPS” was what their dad, Scott, did every day as a state trooper, and the brothers couldn’t wait to join him in uniform. “I always thought it looked really cool,” said Matthew, 26, who became a Virginia State Policeman three years ago. “The fast cars. The sirens. I always had my mind set on law enforcement.” Jacob, who’s 23 and recently graduated from the State Police Academy, added: “I’ve never really thought of anything else.” Clearly. As the brothers talked, their mother, Cindy Burgett, went to the cabinet of their Fredericksburg home where she keeps construction paper artwork and cards made by her three children. (The couple’s oldest, Sarah, is 28, and followed her mother into the medical field. Cindy is a neonatal intensive care unit nurse, and Sarah is an X-ray nurse.) Cindy retrieved a Father’s Day card, undated, that Jacob had done, probably in elementary school. The cover showed his father’s uniform from the neck to the black attachments on his belt. There was a dark blue tie, his dad’s badge and name tag. Inside, Jacob had scrawled the lines from the theme song of his favorite show: “Bad boys, bad boys. Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?” Then, he signed the card on the last page. Next to the drawing of a police car with two antennas, he wrote “Happy Father’s Day!” in oversize letters and included a postscript that really spoke to where his head—and heart—were. It read: “PS: you rock dude!” Their father may have wanted to say the same to his boys when they graduated from Basic Trooper Session. Participants can have a relative or friend, also in law enforcement, hand them their diplomas, or they can get them from the Virginia State Police superintendent. The person Matthew and Jacob Burgett chose was 1st Sgt. Scott Burgett, who beamed with pride. “This is fantastic,” he said at Jacob’s graduation. Like the ceremony, the training classes—all 1,340 hours spread out over 29 weeks and 98 courses—are held at state police headquarters in North Chesterfield near Richmond. Each member of the Burgett family attended Jacob’s graduation. Matthew is three years older, but when he and his brother stood next to each other in uniform, with the same buzz cut and “cover” on their heads, they looked like twins. All the Burgetts have blue eyes, but the boys’ are the color of a glacier, like their mother’s. It’s not unusual to have fathers and sons, dads and daughters and husbands and wives on the force, said Virginia State Police Capt. Todd Taylor. Matt is under his command, and Taylor often jokingly tells Scott—who he’s known more than 25 years—that he’s the second-best trooper in the family. He teases that he’ll have to change it to third best now that Jacob has joined. Then, on a serious note, he said the Burgetts are “thinking men” who reason their way through problems. “I’m just proud of them all,” he said. “They’re good folks, a good family. I would like to have a whole bunch more of them.”
Oklahoma Highway Patrol holds first graduation in two years
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol added 29 new troopers to its ranks during a graduation ceremony Friday. Held at the Memorial Road Church of Christ, 29 of the 46 cadets that entered the 65th Oklahoma Highway Patrol Academy in January were chosen to serve the state after completing 20 weeks of intensive training. During the academy, cadets were challenged academically, physically and mentally. Officials said the average workday for cadets ranged from 12 to 18 hours each day. Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager Sam Presti delivered the ceremony's keynote address, and Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice Douglas L. Combs administered the oath of office. Friday's graduation was the first since 2016. The academy was put on hold after budget cuts at the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety last year.
South Carolina Department of Public Safety promotes first female to lead regional troop
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety has promoted the first female trooper to lead the Orangeburg region of the department. Charleston native Shawna Gadsden will become the first female to lead a regional Highway Patrol Troop. Gadsden will oversee Troop Seven in her new role as commander, which includes Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun, Hampton and Orangeburg counties. “Capt. Gadsden has a true passion for public service and a commitment to lowering highway collisions and fatalities,” said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith. “She is well-respected among her peers and will be an asset to the communities of Troop Seven.” Gadsden has served with the Highway Patrol for 25 years and was promoted to captain on June 8. She previously held the position of lieutenant/executive officer for the Charleston region since 2013. Gadsden takes over for Capt. Keith Grice, who retired after being with the department for 30 years, including five years as Troop Seven commander. “Capt. Gadsden has invested her entire career in serving with the Highway Patrol,” said SCHP Colonel Chris Williamson. “We are truly fortunate to have a leader with her extensive knowledge of the Highway Patrol – both from the administrative and enforcement sides.” Gadsden began her career in Lexington in 1993, transferring to Charleston County in Troop Six in 1994. Gadsden was promoted to corporal in 2002 and later to sergeant in 2008 in Troop Six/Post B (Dorchester and Colleton Counties). She became first sergeant in 2011 in Post A (Berkeley and Charleston Counties). Most recently, she had served as lieutenant (since 2013) in Troop Six Headquarters.
Arkansas 2017 State Trooper of the Year
Trooper Levi Fleming, 26, of Brinkley, was presented the Arkansas State Trooper of the Year Award on Wednesday during the annual state police awards ceremony. Trooper Fleming was among a group of more than 30 Arkansas State Police personnel recognized for cumulative work or assignments involving particular incidents during the 2017 calendar year. The recipient of the Trooper of the Year Award personifies the highest standards of public service and has demonstrates a record of esteemed law enforcement action. Trooper Fleming, a four-year veteran of the department, was specifically recognized for his January 21, 2017 action in response to a disturbance call at a DeValls Bluff residence. An intoxicated individual had forced his way into the residence, armed himself with a shotgun, and doused a portion of the garage and himself with gasoline. While Trooper Fleming was present, the individual then ignited a fire which consumed the individual and a portion of the garage. Trooper Fleming armed himself with a fire extinguisher, activated the device and entered the garage, successfully extricating the victim who had sustained serious burns across more than forty percent of his body. Trooper Fleming was also among eight state troopers to receive the department’s life-saving award.
New Jersey State troopers use CPR to revive women after her vehicle runs off road
Three New Jersey state troopers used CPR to revive a woman who had stopped breathing. The troopers found the 56-year-old unconscious after her vehicle ran off the eastern spur of the New Jersey Turnpike in Secaucus last month. Video from a patrol car camera showed the troopers removing the woman from the car and performing CPR. The troopers are heard telling the woman "stay with us." Another trooper told the others "I got a pulse. Keep going." The woman started breathing. Paramedics took the woman to a hospital, where she was later released. The woman was not identified by officials.
New Jersey State Trooper pulls over police officer who delivered him as a baby
A traffic stop in New Jersey ended with a surprise reunion when a state trooper pulled over the police officer who delivered him as a baby 27 years earlier. Trooper Michael Patterson stopped Matthew Bailly on June 1 for a minor vehicle violation last week, according to the New Jersey State Police’s Facebook page. When Bailly mentioned he was a retired police officer from Piscataway, New Jersey, Patterson told the man he was from the same town. Then, they discovered more connections. Patterson told Bailly what street he lived on, and the retired officer said he remembered it because he helped deliver a baby there 27 years ago. He even described the style and color of the house, and that the baby’s name was Michael. That’s when Patterson said: “My name is Michael Patterson, sir. Thank you for delivering me,” according to the New Jersey State Police. It turns out that Bailly responded to a call on Oct. 5, 1991 because Patterson’s mother, Karen, had been out shopping when she went into labor. She rushed home and Bailly arrived to help. After the Pattersons called their doctor, he guided a young Bailly over the phone so he could deliver the baby. Bailly was pulled over for tinted windows, according to CNN. But once Patterson discovered who he was speaking to, he gave Bailly a warning and let him off without a ticket. Instead, Patterson took his mother to visit Bailly and his wife, so everyone could reconnect.
Dereck Stewart has started his role as the new colonel and leader of the Tennessee Highway Patrol
MTSU graduate Dereck Stewart has started his role as the new colonel and leader of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Stewart, who previously held the rank of lieutenant colonel, was appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner David W. Purkey in April. The rise of the of 30-year veteran to the position also marks the first time an African-American has held the role of THP colonel, the agency's top leader. "It's always worth it to notice when history gets made," Haslam said during a ceremony at that time. "(Stewart) is the very first African-American to be lead this organization, but that's not why we promoted him. We promoted him because he is the best, most qualified, (and) has the right track record. We're thrilled we get to make this appointment." Stewart was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 2011 after serving in various capacities throughout the agency and has been responsible for the daily operations of the THP for the last seven years. Murfreesboro resident Tracy Trott retired May 31 after 40 years of service, including eight years as THP's leader. The governor said it had been an honor to serve with Trott, and Stewart called Trott a friend and mentor. Stewart is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association, the Executive Leadership Institute, the FBI National Executive Institute and Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Davidson County with his wife and two children.
Minnesota trooper says his seat belt saved his life in head-on crash
Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Mike Krukowski says if it weren't for his seatbelt, his wife would've been planning his funeral. Krukowski was involved in a head-on crash last month when a driver near Lakeville veered off I-35, went through the freeway fence and struck his squad SUV. Krukowski says over his 14 years on patrol, he's heard every reason why people don't wear their seatbelts -- including, I'll be able to belt in if needed. He says he had fractions of a second when he saw the car coming at him. Krukowski says, "There was no way that I would be able to reach over my left shoulder and pull that seatbelt on and click it on moments before impact. There's not a chance." Krukowski broke both his feet and arm in the crash. The driver of the other car died several days later.
Law Enforcement from across the country pay final respects to NC Highway Patrol Trooper Samuel Bullard
Authorities from across the country made their way to North Carolina Friday to pay their final farewell to State Highway Patrol Trooper Samuel Bullard.Bullard, 24, died in a crash with a suspect who had passed through a license checkpoint. The crash happened along Interstate 77 southbound near NC 67 in Yadkin County.On Friday, the focus was not on the investigation, but Trooper Bullard's legacy and impact on others. "This extraordinary young man who worked very hard and did what he was supposed to do. And we're grateful for his life," said Governor Roy Cooper, the first to speak during the hour-long funeral.Cameras were not allowed inside, but media was invited to listen in.Governor Cooper described Bullard as being "full of the spirit of service."Reverend Victor Church led the service and was the final speaker. During his remarks, he jokingly recalled Bullard's proposal fell on April Fool's Day of this year. He also read aloud a note written by Bullard's fiancé, where she shared her never-ending love and devotion. "Thinking about the age he came on, planning for his wedding the same time I was planning for my wedding. It's just - you ask a lot of questions, you ask a lot of the 'why's?'," said State Highway Patrol Sgt. Chris Knox.Sgt. Knox was one of more than a thousand law enforcement personnel to converge on the Walker Center on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro. He explained the impact of placing the ceremonial black band over his shield in memory of Bullard."I put it on and knew that everything had changed. For a family everything had changed. For the people that worked with him, everything had changed. When you put this on, it hurts. It's pretty close to the heart and the hearts what's affected by all this," explained Sgt. Knox. Trooper Bullard's dedication and professionalism were brought up by many throughout the day."It should really motivate all of us to strive to be like him, and to honor him by going out in the communities and being the trooper he was in his community," said Sgt. Knox.Bullard's three-year anniversary with State Highway Patrol would have been June 21. Law enforcement agencies from more than a dozen states sent representatives to Friday's service. They included various law enforcement agencies throughout North Carolina, Georgia State Patrol, Ohio Highway Patrol, Virginia State Police, Wyoming Highway Patrol, Wisconsin State Police, Delaware State Police, Utah Highway Patrol, Pennsylvania State Police, Indiana State Police, Texas Department of Public Safety, Missouri Highway Patrol, Illinois State Police, Michigan State Police, West Virginia State Police, among others.Following the funeral, family, friends, and law enforcement personnel attended a private, graveside memorial service in Rhonda.
New York State Police fill time capsule, remember fallen troopers
As state police paid tribute to fallen troopers Monday morning, they made sure photographs, reports and other information also would not be forgotten. State police placed a time capsule behind a monument for fallen members at their annual Memorial Day services outside the front entrance of the Troop D headquarters in Oneida, Trooper Jack Keller said. The ceremony is held each year to remember and honor 24 Troop D members who have given the "ultimate sacrifice," Keller said. About 150 people attended Monday. State police Maj. Mary Clark, who previously served as a Zone 1 Commander captain, spearheaded the idea of a centennial time capsule. "The entire troop -- troop headquarters, zone stations and Bureau of Criminal Investigation units -- were notified and requested to provide some form of a portfolio containing interesting, noteworthy events, photographs, reports or whatever they thought would speak more clearly in the future, as compared to a historical study or verbal story sharing," Keller said. State police submitted items throughout 2017 "in a collective effort to compile a historical cache of goods and information," he said. "A few members took time to draft letters, in hope of same being read by family and relatives in the future." Items were placed inside a waterproof fiberglass time capsule, constructed by Zone 1 Commander Capt. Mark Klosowski; other members from Troop D also assisted. Members of the state police signed the outside of the time capsule, which Keller said, instructs future generations not to open it until at least the year 2067.
New Superintendent is appointed to lead the North Dakota Highway Patrol
North Dakota Highway Patrol Maj. Brandon Solberg was appointed Thursday, May 17, to oversee the agency by Gov. Doug Burgum, who cited his leadership experience and history of field and administrative roles during his more than 22 years in law enforcement. Solberg will succeed Col. Michael Gerhart, who is retiring from the agency on June 30 after four years as Highway Patrol superintendent and more than 26 years with the agency. Solberg has been with the Highway Patrol for nearly two decades, including more than 10 years as a commander at patrol headquarters in the state Capitol. Before joining the Highway Patrol in January 1999, he was a Dickey County sheriff’s deputy and served as a part-time reserve deputy in Barnes County, working in corrections and patrol operations. “Maj. Solberg brings the right combination of leadership and management skills to lead the North Dakota Highway Patrol, as well as a deep understanding of what troopers face every day as they protect the public and enforce our laws,” Burgum said. “His focus on education and training, building partnerships and holding the Highway Patrol to the highest standards of professional excellence will serve North Dakota citizens well.” Solberg earned an associate’s degree in law enforcement from Alexandria (Minnesota) Technical College and a bachelor’s degree in social science from the University of North Dakota. He spent the first six years of his Highway Patrol career as a state trooper stationed in Grafton and Grand Forks before being promoted to sergeant and becoming a shift supervisor in Fargo. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2007, relocating to headquarters in Bismarck. Solberg advanced to the rank of captain in 2011 and was promoted to major and chief of staff in 2014, managing the patrol’s biennial budget of about $60 million and directly or indirectly supervising a staff of about 200 people. He was the patrol’s accreditation manager for about seven years, receiving the Colonel’s Award for Excellence in 2009 after the agency received a meritorious award and flagship agency status from its accrediting board. “I am grateful to Gov. Burgum for the opportunity to serve as the next Highway Patrol superintendent,” Solberg said. “I will listen and learn from our dedicated employees as we continue to enhance public safety for our citizens through high-quality service. Col. Gerhart was an exceptional leader, and I hope to build on the positive momentum he created.” Burgum expressed his deepest gratitude to Gerhart for his leadership and more than 26 years with the Highway Patrol, including stints as a trooper, safety and education officer, training director and field operations commander. “Col. Gerhart’s outstanding service as a law enforcement officer and leader have made the Highway Patrol a stronger agency and North Dakota a safer place to live and travel,” Burgum said. “We are deeply grateful for his steadfast commitment to public safety and his levelheaded leadership in both calm and tumultuous times. We thank him for helping to ensure a smooth transition to new leadership and wish him all the best.”