Governor Hogan attends 24th Annual Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge
Governor Larry Hogan today joined hundreds of law enforcement officers for the 24th annual Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge at Sandy Point State Park, where he presented Special Olympian Nicholas Meade with the Jimmy Myrick Jr. Governor’s Courage Award. “I want to sincerely thank the hundreds of dedicated and hardworking police officers, military, and first responders from across Maryland who are participating in this year’s Polar Bear Plunge,” said Governor Hogan. “Thank you for your commitment to this great cause and for your service each and every day on behalf of the people of Maryland.” The Jimmy Myrick Jr. Governor’s Courage Award honors the memory of Jimmy Myrick, Jr., a Special Olympian who befriended Governor Hogan as the two underwent chemotherapy treatments at the University of Maryland Medical Center. This year’s honoree, Nicholas Meade, has participated in Special Olympics since the age of seven, and competes in a wide range of sports, including softball, soccer, kayaking and golf. Over the last 19 months, he has demonstrated exceptional courage as he supported and encouraged his father, who sadly passed away on January 8, during his battle with cancer. Maryland State Police has partnered with Special Olympics to host the Polar Bear Plunge since 1997. The annual event benefits Special Olympics Maryland, which provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
50 New Jersey State Police troopers headed to Puerto Rico to aid in earthquake recovery
Dozens of New Jersey State Police troopers are headed to Puerto Rico this weekend to help as residents of the commonwealth work to recover from a devastating series of earthquakes over the past several weeks. Fifty troopers will arrive from New Jersey on Sunday for a 15-day stay in which they’ll provide protection at seven base camps providing temporarily housing for between 2,000 and 5,000 residents in the Ponce region of Puerto Rico, Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday morning. Members of the State Police will also work traffic control in from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Troopers are going to Puerto Rico as part of Emergency Management Assistant Compact (EMAC), a mutual aid agreement allowing states and territories to share resources following natural and man-made disasters. Ponce is one of several cities in the island’s southern region hit by the recent 6.4 magnitude earthquake that killed one person and caused more than an estimated $200 million in damage. More than 7,000 people remain in shelters since the quake in a country still recovering from Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm that has killed more than 3,000 people since it struck in September 2017. A seven-member State Police advance team flew to San Juan on Wednesday to collect supplies at FEMA headquarters in Caguas before continuing to Ponce where they will coordinate with local officials. “Before we departed from the last of our deployments to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, we made a promise to local officials and residents that should they ever need us again, we would be there,” Colonel Patrick Callahan of the State Police said in in a statement. "Today we are making good on that promise. We are deploying a highly skilled contingent of troopers that will be able to immediately integrate into the recovery efforts already in place.”
New Jersey's "Slow Down or Move Over" Act honoring deceased state trooper
This Monday, Governor Murphy signed the "Slow Down or More Over, It's the Law Act" sponsored by Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey in effort to strengthen the protections provided by the "Move Over Law" for emergency workers on New Jersey roads. The "Move Over Law" was created in response to the tragic death of Trooper Marc Castellano, who was struck and killed by a driver who failed to move over for Castellano's service vehicle. Under the law, motorists must reduce speed and change lanes when approaching an authorized emergency vehicle, tow or highway maintenance truck, and emergency or sanitation service vehicle that has its flashing, blinking or alternating emergency lights on. "Violators of the 'Move Over Law' are putting police officers and other emergency personnel at serious risk of injury or death," said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). "We've been humbled to fight for this bill alongside Trooper Castellano's mother, Donna Setaro. Donna fought hard to pass the original 'Move Over Law' in the wake of her son's death, and we hope that this legislation will help make sure that no other parent has to endure the same loss. I'm grateful to all of the law enforcement officers and families who have supported our efforts to pass this legislation, and we're so proud to finally see it become law." Under existing law, a driver who fails to slow down or move over for an emergency vehicle or maintenance truck that has its emergency lights on would be subject to a fine between $100 and $500. Under the new law (A-3890), if a driver is convicted of this offense three or more times in a single year, they will incur two motor vehicle points on their driver's license. Accumulating points may result in additional penalties, including surcharges and license suspension. Since Trooper Castellano's passing, four Manchester Township Police Officers were struck on State Highway 37, and a Brick Township Police Officer's patrol car was hit while an officer was inside the vehicle. Both incidents were the result of drivers failing to move over. "As the daughter of a retired State Trooper, I know the dangers that our state's law enforcement officers face every day," said Downey (D-Monmouth). "Even something as simple as a traffic stop or standard emergency response can turn deadly if a driver is ignoring the laws or failing to pay attention. That's why our bill gives the 'Move Over Law' new teeth, with a goal of preventing future tragedies and making clear that this is not an issue that New Jersey takes lightly." "Too many drivers either don't know about the Move Over Law or simply don't adhere to it," said Senator Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth), a sponsor of the bill in the Senate. "By increasing the penalty for violating this important traffic law, we hope to encourage drivers to slow down or move over when passing emergency or maintenance vehicles. When drivers do so, they may be saving a life." The law also calls for the Division of Highway Traffic Safety in the Department of Law and Public Safety to conduct a public awareness campaign to inform drivers of the increased penalty. The law will take effect on September 1, 2020.
New Leadership for Alaska State Troopers
The Alaska State Troopers passed the division's leadership torch to newly promoted Colonel Bryan Barlow, Thursday, January 16. Like preceding Director Colonel Barry Wilson – who hung up his Stetson yesterday after 30 years of service – Colonel Barlow is a longtime Alaska State Trooper and lifelong Alaskan who knows his way around the state. "I am thankful for all of those who have come before us and worked tirelessly to bring us to where we are," Colonel Barlow said, thanking now retired Colonel Wilson for his dedicated service and urging the division to "continue forward with optimism, resolve, commitment, and thankfulness." Colonel Barlow began his career with the Alaska State Troopers in 1999 and has patrolled in Fairbanks, Ninilchik, Ketchikan, and Girdwood, as well as Interior villages. Over the years, he has supervised the Criminal Intelligence Unit, DPS Recruitment, Office of Professional Standards, and the DPS Aircraft Section. He's also held the duties of Department Pilot, Special Emergency Reaction Team member, Firearms Instructor, Crisis Negotiator, and Ethics Instructor. In October 2017, Colonel Barlow joined the Troopers' Director’s Office as a Major.