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Tennessee Highway Patrol launches distracted driving campaign

THP Distracted Driving

Shelby County Sheriff's Office deputy Sgt. Vernon Greer weaved through traffic on Germantown Parkway and pulled over a gray SUV Monday morning.  The driver was attempting to make a phone call when Greer pulled over the vehicle.  "The call itself is not against the law, it is the fact that the driver was not devoting full attention to the road," Greer said.  "The driver was issued a citation for failing to devote full attention to the road."  Local police joined the Tennessee Highway Safety Office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol in Memphis Monday for the launch of the statewide distracted driving campaign.  For the first time, the Highway Patrol brought in its distracted driving enforcement bus to crack down on distracted drivers on roadways, said Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Chris Richardson.  "If they don't pay attention to a big old bus that says State Trooper on it, you know they are not paying attention to the roadway and the other motorists out there," Richardson said.  "Anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or mind off driving is a distraction.  Whether it's using that cell phone, or people doing their hair and makeup and even reading the newspaper.  We have seen all of that."  Police issued a total of 22 tickets, including eight for texting in about 45 minutes Monday on roadways including Interstate 40, Germantown Parkway and Stage roads.  Drivers face a $50 fine for distracted driving and, if the offense reoccurs, possible suspension of the drivers’ license, Richardson said.  The statewide crackdown is part of the month long National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and also the state Safety Office's third annual "Thumbs Down to Texting and Driving" campaign.  According to the NHTSA, nearly 3,500 people were killed and about 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015, the latest figures available.  Paul Atchley, a psychology professor at the University of Kansas, who has done research on distracted drivers for the last 15 years, said distracted driving is a major factor on roadways.  "All the research we have available says that someone using a phone while driving is equivalent to or maybe worse than a drunk driver, Atchley said.  "There have been multiple studies that have looked at this.  We have been doing research on phones in cars for 50 years.  This is not a new research area.  But when you compare a drunk driver to a distracted driver scenario, the drunk driver actually drives better."  Atchley added that education and awareness campaigns need to be coupled with legislation and enforcement to make an impact on the issue.  "The roads have been increasingly riskier over the last 10 years and distracted driving is one of the biggest causes," Atchley said.

4/12/17

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Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper killed in crash

Wisconsin Fallen Trooper

The Wisconsin State Patrol trooper killed early Tuesday morning when he lost control of his patrol car and crashed on I-90/94 near Wisconsin Dells has been identified as Anthony J. Borostowski of Tomah.  The crash happened at about 4:30 a.m. on the eastbound side of the highway near marker 89, the Sauk County Sheriff's Office said.  Borostowski was on duty at the time of the crash, but it wasn't known if he was in pursuit of a vehicle.  The Sheriff's Office was asked by the State Patrol to conduct the investigation.  The preliminary investigation showed the trooper lost control of his patrol car, with the car going off the road and into the roadside ditch, hitting a tree.  The trooper was pronounced dead at the scene.  Gov. Scott Walker issued a statement after learning of Borostowski's death.  "Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the loss of Anthony Borostowski, who passed away early this morning in the line of duty," Walker said.  "I had the honor of meeting him in 2015, when he received the Wisconsin State Patrol's lifesaving award for saving a man's life by performing CPR," Walker said.

4/12/17

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State Police land ex-UM football player

MSP Cam Gordon

Cam Gordon had just been cut by the Kansas City Chiefs and was “team hopping” in the National Football League when he found his second calling.  The former University of Michigan and New England Patriots linebacker is enlisting with the Michigan State Police.  “I came to the realization that I just wasn’t performing the way that I once was,” said Gordon, 25, a Detroit native and Inkster High School graduate whose bruising football career included three stress fractures in his back, a knee injury and multiple concussions.  “So I said, ‘What is another career that will allow me to have an impact, have influence on younger kids and also leave behind a positive legacy?’  Instantly, state trooper — law enforcement — jumped into my mind.”  State police last week extended a conditional job offer to Gordon that would make him an official member of the next trooper recruiting school.  Gordon fills multiple needs for his new team, which is seeking young talent as hundreds of state police become eligible to retire in the next three years.  As an African-American, he also complements the department’s efforts to boost diversity in what remains a predominately white police force.  “I’ve heard it’s tough,” said Gordon, who signed with the Patriots in 2014 as an undrafted free agent.  “I don’t want to go in there thinking, ‘Oh, man, I played pro.  This is going to be easy.’  I don’t want to take it lightly.”  Gordon, whose older brother works for the Detroit Police Department, said he always has looked up to law enforcement officers and wants to help improve any negative perceptions that may exist.  “I feel like I can be the difference and have a positive impact,” he said.

4/11/17

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Wisconsin State Patrol welcomes 41 new troopers

Wisconsin graduation April 2017

After more than six months of intense training, 41 Wisconsin State Patrol officers were sworn in Friday at a graduation ceremony in La Crosse.  Joshua Helmer of Fond du Lac was among the officers and will serve as a trooper in the Northeast Region and Fond du Lac County.  The new officers began their training as cadets in the 62nd Recruit Class at the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy at Fort McCoy on Oct. 2, 2016.  Their comprehensive training has prepared them for law enforcement careers as either State Patrol troopers or inspectors in the state.  Troopers patrol highways to enforce traffic safety and criminal laws while inspectors focus primarily on enforcement of motor carrier safety laws and regulations.  “Throughout their rigorous training, our newest officers displayed the mental, physical, and emotional strength needed for the State Patrol’s traffic and public safety missions,” said Capt. Paul Matl, commander of the State Patrol Academy, in a recent press release.  “They successfully completed training in an array of subjects including traffic and criminal law, firearms marksmanship, emergency vehicle operations, crisis management and traffic crash investigations.  They will continue their training and education throughout their careers.”

4/11/17

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Wisconsin State Patrol welcomes 41 new troopers

Wisconsin graduation April 2017

After more than six months of intense training, 41 Wisconsin State Patrol officers were sworn in Friday at a graduation ceremony in La Crosse.  Joshua Helmer of Fond du Lac was among the officers and will serve as a trooper in the Northeast Region and Fond du Lac County.  The new officers began their training as cadets in the 62nd Recruit Class at the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy at Fort McCoy on Oct. 2, 2016.  Their comprehensive training has prepared them for law enforcement careers as either State Patrol troopers or inspectors in the state.  Troopers patrol highways to enforce traffic safety and criminal laws while inspectors focus primarily on enforcement of motor carrier safety laws and regulations.  “Throughout their rigorous training, our newest officers displayed the mental, physical, and emotional strength needed for the State Patrol’s traffic and public safety missions,” said Capt. Paul Matl, commander of the State Patrol Academy, in a recent press release.  “They successfully completed training in an array of subjects including traffic and criminal law, firearms marksmanship, emergency vehicle operations, crisis management and traffic crash investigations.  They will continue their training and education throughout their careers.”

4/11/17

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Maine State Police welcome 8 new troopers

Maine SP new troopers 4 7 17

Maine State Police welcomed eight new troopers Friday.  They received their badges at a graduation ceremony at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro.  After eighteen weeks of training required of all police students, Maine’s newest troopers completed an additional ten weeks of specialized State Police training.  There are currently 19 vacancies in the department.  The graduating class honored tradition of paying tribute to fallen state troopers.  The State Police Chief administered the oath of office and discussed the changing society in which these graduates will be working.  “You do not have to look far throughout the country to see that we are divided and that each side has little tolerance for the opposite’s opinions or viewpoints.  There is less self-responsibility today than ever before.  It’s always somebody else’s fault.  I don’t know how this has happened to our society but we seem to thrive on conflict. This is why we have invested huge amounts of time, energy, and money into providing you the best training possible, because you are a pivotal part of bringing calmness to the chaos,” said Col. Robert Williams.  The new troopers will be partnered with veteran troopers before patrolling on their own.

To watch video, go to:  https://wabi.tv/2017/04/07/maine-state-police-welcome-eight-new-troopers/

4/10/17

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R.I. State Police: Man's road rage led to fatal crash 'that should have never occurred'

RISP Road Rage

Numerous 911 calls from other drivers helped the state police piece together the events leading to the “road rage” crash that killed Erik Salazar — a 22-year-old Brooklyn man who was driving on Route 295 in Johnston last week.  Mitchell Savard, 41, was driving north in the high-speed lane of Route 295 when he switched lanes, cutting off a tow truck driver at about 9:50 a.m. on March 30.  The driver of the tow truck honked at Savard, state police said.  Savard, of Woonsocket, then began to “continually apply his brakes,” Capt. Matthew Moynihan said at a news conference at state police headquarters Wednesday. This behavior is “indicative of road rage,” he said.  After doing the “brake dance” for a few minutes Moynihan said Savard stopped his car in the center lane of the highway.  The driver of the tow truck — 28-year-old Trevor Armstrong — slammed his brakes.  Armstrong, of Bristol, Connecticut, suffered minor injuries.  A third vehicle, the box truck driven by Salazar, crashed into Armstrong’s truck. Moynihan said Salazar’s view of the road was obstructed by another vehicle that swerved out of the way.  Salazar was driving with 23-year-old Andy Salgado, also of Brooklyn, in the passenger seat.  Salgado remains in critical condition at Rhode Island Hospital.  Savard did not report injuries, the police said.  “We are upset about this tragic event,” Moynihan said.  “This crash should’ve never occurred.  It was completely avoidable.”

4/10/17

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Maryland State Police to crack down on distracted driving

MDP distracted driving

Maryland State Police plan to aggressively ticket motorists who are caught using their cellphones or doing other things that pull their attention from the roadway.  Capt. Michael Fluharty, commander of the state police barracks in Allegany, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties, said troopers are going to work overtime to look for people who are breaking distracted-driving laws, such as using their cellphones, putting on makeup and reading maps.  "We don't like to write the tickets," he said.  "But it's the best way to get the message across."  He said the tickets will cost $83.  The initiative started across the state on Saturday to kick off Distracted Driving Month.  Fluharty said motorists still will be allowed to change radio stations and speak on their cellphones via Bluetooth.  He said the push against distracted driving is timely, considering 13 senior citizens were killed in Texas last week when their church bus was struck by a driver who a witness alleged was texting.  It has been estimated that a person texting takes his or her eyes off the road for an average of five seconds.  That is like covering the length of a football field while driving blindfolded at 55 mph, according to a state police news release.  Motorists often are unaware that diverting their attention from the road can unconsciously lead to unsafe driving behavior, such as failure to drive in a single lane, following too closely or failing to reduce speed to avoid a crash.  Drivers should eliminate any activity while driving that diverts their eyes from the roadway, their hands from the steering wheel or their awareness of the traffic conditions around them, the release said.  The Maryland Highway Safety Office determined that distracted driving causes crashes that result in more than 31,100 injuries across the state each year.  Under Maryland law, also known as Jake’s Law, a driver causing serious injury or death while talking on a handheld cellphone or texting could receive up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.  These are primary offenses, and police officers can stop drivers when those activities are observed, regardless of the presence of other violations.  How to prevent distracted driving as a passenger: Request that the driver put down the cellphone while behind the wheel.  Offer to send a text or make a call for the driver, so he or she can focus on the road.  Offer to help watch the road.  As a parent:  Be a good role model and practice what you preach.   Do not call or text your child if you know he or she might be driving.  As a driver:  Turn off your cellphone while you are driving.  Pull off to the side of the road to send a text or make a cellphone call.  If you think you will be tempted to check your cellphone, avoid the temptation by putting it in the trunk or the back seat.

4/7/17

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Louisiana State Police get 46 new troopers

LSP Graduates April 2017

Louisiana has 46 new state troopers.  Louisiana State Police held a graduation ceremony Wednesday for its latest cadet class, the 95th in their history.  Graduating troopers got gold boot badges at a ceremony in Baton Rouge.  The new troopers will participate in a 10-week field training program under the supervision of a senior trooper and then will be deployed around the state.  The troopers have been in training for 22 weeks since November. Sixty-four potential candidates started the training, and 46 finished it.  Training areas include physical fitness, crash investigation techniques, emergency vehicle operations, impaired driving detection and traffic incident management.

4/7/17

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State Police: $13.7M in drugs seized this year

PSP Facebook picture

State troopers seized $13,755,803 in illegal drugs through the first three months of 2017, according to an announcement Wednesday by the Pennsylvania State Police.  Heroin accounted for the vast majority of seizures — 29.26 pounds valued at $10,194,375. Troopers also confiscated fentanyl totaling 8.5 pounds, valued at $52,000, as well as a mishmash of 4,075 pills, including prescription opioids.  More than 3,500 people died of a drug overdose in Pennsylvania in 2015, with heroin and prescription opioids found in a majority of the cases.  “Heroin is the big thing we’re seeing now,” said Cpl. Adam Reed, state police communications director.  “You are seeing more and more of that across the state.”  Heroin seizures are on pace to exceed 2016 totals, when 100 pounds valued at $34.2 million were seized.  Trooper Rick Blair, public information officer based at the Milton barracks, said the state trend of heroin as the drug of choice is evident locally.  “We’re seeing the same thing,” Blair said.  The totals from the state police show proactivity in a job that’s often reactive, Blair said.  Troopers are making traffic stops or responding to 911 calls, and they’re looking beyond the obvious.  A speeding violation led to the arrest of a New York man accused of delivering 2.27 pounds of cocaine to Cleveland, Ohio.  He was stopped while traveling west on Interstate 80 in White Deer Township, Union County.  Charges were filed by troopers from the Lamar station.  The stop netted a third of the 6.6 pounds of cocaine seized across the state this year.  “They’re seeking clues and other identifying factors to say, ‘You know, we may have someone stopped that might be more than a speeding violation,’” Blair said.  In addition to opioids, state police confiscated 22.2 pounds of methamphetamine valued at $1,004,642 as well as 539 pounds of processed marijuana valued at $1,884,625.  A December arrest — falling just outside first quarter 2017 figures — on Interstate 80 in Valley Township, Montour County, netted 67 pounds of marijuana valued at $402,000.  The types and amounts of illegal drugs seized at any one time are unpredictable.  Reed said the totals are a combination of multiple large busts and many more smaller seizures.  It’s not just during traffic stops, either.  “We have troopers seeking drugs at shipping facilities, train stations and airports,” Reed said.

4/6/17

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Godson of fallen trooper in Ohio receives special badge number

Trooper Velez OHP

New Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper A.J. Torres was given a badge number with a symbolic meaning to him and his family.  After completing his training at the Highway Patrol’s training academy, Torres, 21, was assigned badge number 511, which corresponds to the unit number of fallen trooper Kenneth Velez.  Velez was Torres’ godfather and the gesture by the Highway Patrol was not left unnoticed.  Torres said he was initially assigned a different badge number and completely in the dark about the symbolic gesture until after he was pinned, the day before his graduation from the academy.   “At first I didn’t recognize it, but then when I went back, it clicked and said, ‘man, this is my uncle’s number,’ ” Torres said.  Velez, 48, died in the line of duty Sept. 15, 2016, from injuries suffered in an accident on Interstate 90 in Cleveland while conducting traffic enforcement.  Torres completed his first shift with the Elyria Post and said he was excited to put what he had learned into practice after working hard at the academy.  Torres is assigned to the same post as his father, also named A.J. Torres.  The elder Torres was named Highway Patrol’s retired Trooper of the Year for 2016 and served as a trooper with the Elyria Post for 26 years.  The younger Torres said growing up in a police family had an enormous influence on his decision to enter the academy and become a trooper.  Torres said he admired the memories of growing up in a police family and has always been a part of the police culture.  He said he remembers always seeing his father’s police cruiser in the backyard and the sage advice given to him by Velez.  “My uncle was always a huge influence and just said if you want to do it, just do it,” Torres said.

4/5/17

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Vermont State Police receives CALEA Accreditation

VSP Calea

The Department of Public Safety and the Vermont State Police are proud to announce that the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®) has awarded the Vermont State Police with official CALEA Accreditation.  Received this past weekend, this CALEA award makes the Vermont State Police the second Vermont law enforcement agency to currently meet the state-of-the-art standards required for this national law enforcement recognition.  The CALEA Accreditation award was presented to Vermont State Police Director Colonel Matthew T. Birmingham, and Office of Professional Standards Commander Lieutenant Dee Barbic in Mobile, Alabama Saturday evening.  The recognition comes after a multi-year effort, overseen and coordinated by Lieutenant Barbic, to identify and address areas within the Vermont State Police requiring improvement to meet CALEA standards.  Colonel Birmingham commented after receiving the award, “I want to thank all members of the Vermont State Police, and especially Lieutenant Barbic, for their efforts in achieving this award. As a law enforcement agency working for all Vermonters, we hold ourselves to the highest professional standards on a daily basis, and want Vermonters to be assured of that.  The CALEA accreditation is a standard Vermonters can be proud of, and hold us to as we serve around the state.”  Department of Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Anderson also congratulated VSP on the achievement, “As an organization solely dedicated to improving the delivery of public safety services, the CALEA Accreditation achieved by the Vermont State Police is highly meaningful and important.  Holding law enforcement agencies to high professional standards for performance and training translates to improved and more professional service to our citizens.  I am very proud to be working with and for an organization with these kinds of high standards in law enforcement.  My thanks to Colonel Birmingham and Lieutenant Barbic for their outstanding work in achieving this accreditation”.  The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., (CALEA®) was created in 1979 to improve the delivery of public safety services, primarily by: maintaining a body of standards, developed by public safety practitioners, covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives; establishing and administering an accreditation process; and recognizing professional excellence.  Achieving and maintaining “accredited status” is an on-going project for all accredited law enforcement agencies and requires constant monitoring and periodic updating of policies and procedures to ensure compliance with internationally accepted law enforcement accreditation standards.  This accreditation program provides public safety agencies an opportunity to voluntarily demonstrate that they meet an established set of professional standards.  Please visit the CALEA website for more information.  With this award, the Vermont State Police becomes the 10th state police agency in the country to be CALEA accredited.  Currently, there are 634 fully accredited law enforcement agencies, including the UVM Police Department, in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.  CALEA Accreditation is guaranteed for 4 years, however agencies must continue to meet the standards required by CALEA to retain the recognition beyond that period.

4/5/17

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Trooper helps deliver Lombardi Trophy to Bangor after car hits deer

maine trooper lombardi trophy

Maine State Police Trooper Tyler Maloon acknowledges he never knows what he will encounter when he goes to work every day.  But he knows the call he handled early Saturday will be one for the books: He unexpectedly transported the Vince Lombardi Trophy.  The 23-year-old trooper responded Saturday to a report of an accident involving a northbound car that had struck a deer just after 1 a.m. on Interstate 95 near Exit 133 in Fairfield.  He offered to give the driver and passenger a ride to the Irving gas station in Pittsfield, where the driver’s father would be waiting to pick them up.  They were an amiable couple, Allen Lennox Jr. and his wife, Megan.  Their Mazda sedan had been damaged and was not drivable, so it had been towed away from the scene.  As they traveled the 17 miles north on the interstate to Pittsfield, Maloon chatted with the couple in the back seat.  “I said, ‘What brings you up here?  Just traveling?’ Maloon recalled asking.  “They said: ‘Yeah, we left today to try to beat the storm.  We have to be in Bangor for a presentation,’ and they started talking about a trophy.  I asked what they were talking about and she piped up and said her husband works for the Patriots and they have a trophy in the back seat.  “I didn’t say anything for a few minutes, and then I was like, ‘You’re telling me the Lombardi Trophy is in my car right now?’  Maloon said in an interview later Saturday that he learned Allen Lennox works for the New England Patriots’ team operations at Gillette Stadium.  The Patriots won Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5.  The couple were taking the Lombardi Trophy, which is awarded each year to the team that wins the Super Bowl, to Bangor for a presentation at the Cross Insurance Center.  They needed to be back in Massachusetts afterward for opening day Monday at Fenway Park, where another presentation is scheduled.“It was definitely mind-blowing,” Maloon said.  “I even said that in the car, and they both laughed.  It was cool.”  Driving in the dark with the Lennoxes to Pittsfield, Maloon did not see the trophy until they got to the Irving station off Somerset Avenue in Pittsfield.  Allen Lennox produced it from a case and bag, Maloon recalled.   “He took it out and let me touch it, and then he put it back,” he said, adding that Allen Lennox took Maloon’s photograph with the trophy.  The accident was the last call Maloon covered on his shift Saturday.  “I had 10 or 11 calls yesterday – three different crashes.  You never know what’s going to happen, being a trooper, on a day-to-day basis.”  When the young trooper reached home in Pittsfield, he posted a story on Facebook about the incident and Katie England, who handles social media for the Maine State Police, posted the story and photo on the state police Facebook page with Maloon’s comments.  “My mind was blown – seriously what are the odds!  A story for the ages!” Maloon’s post says.  In the post, he recounts the incident and his discovery.  A Patriots fan, Maloon was excited about his encounter, as was his girlfriend, two young children and other family members, including his grandparents who live in Pittsfield.  “People are just kind of mind-blown, just like I was, that the trophy was actually in our town for a short while,” Maloon said.

4/3/17

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Firefighters honored for saving state trooper's life

 

Department of Public Safety Trooper Ronald Slay underwent a physical assessment test on Sept. 8, 2016 at the Killeen DPS office and was driving home when he suddenly felt ill.  He stopped at Killeen Fire Station No. 3, and it’s a good thing he did, because he was suffering a major heart attack.  Firefighters John MacDonald, Brian Hammes, and Clark Channel checked him out as they waited for paramedics Matthew Harper and Chris Shelley to arrive.  On the way to the hospital, Harper and Shelly performed CPR after he went into cardiac arrest.  Slay made a full recovery and returned to work in January.  "We take a lot of things for granted and it was just a blessing to see the sun the grass the trees,” Slay said.  “I made it a habit when I recovered to go back and talk to those guys and send flowers and just let them know how much I appreciated them.  "The five firefighters were presented with the Department of Public Safety Director’s Award during a ceremony Friday at the Killeen Central Fire Station.  "In our day-to-day routine of taking patients to the hospital, we usually don't get to see what the outcome is or ever cross paths with that patient again,” MacDonald said.  “So it was really good to see the outcome and now we have a lifelong friendship with Mr. Slay.”

4/3/17

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Governor Bruce Rauner is declaring April 1st as Illinois State Police Day in honor of the landmark occasion

ISP 95th Anniversary

The Illinois State Police is recognizing its 95th Anniversary and celebrating two upcoming cadet classes.  Governor Bruce Rauner is declaring April first as Illinois State Police Day in honor of the landmark occasion.  He is thanking Troopers for their service and sacrifices.  "I personally believe we have the finest state police force anywhere of any state in the nation.  Incredibly well trained.  Dedicated to their principals of integrity, service and pride."  As the agency marks it's birthday, State Police Director Leo Schmitz says he's pleased that over the next two years they will be able to hold two cadet classes and put about 170 new troopers out on the roads"  Our agency is looking forward to these classes.  Which we will train further troopers to become part of the Illinois State Police legacy to providing exceptional service to the citizens of the state of Illinois."  The State Police was created in 1922 and now has more than 25-hundred sworn personnel and civilians.

3/31/17

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