'She Hugged Me And Wouldn't Let Go': State Trooper Rescues 2-Year-Old Girl

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Brian Hotchkiss said when state police received the call for the missing girl, he knew they were fighting against the clock.

"These missing kids, it can go really bad. It's time sensitive depending on the time of year, so although it was a nice day the temperature was dropping," he said.

He and the other members of law enforcement knocked on neighbors' doors, but as the sun began to set, they knew they had to make a decision fast. So, Hotchkiss and two other troopers decided to climb the mountain a half mile from the girl's home.

Hotchkiss said it took him an hour to get to the top and he was "winded" by the time he was done. At first all he saw was grey and brown in the trees.

But then he saw a pink dot. He knew it was her.

"I followed the stream and I located the child, she was lying on her stomach on a rock, and I ran over as quick as possible and I saw her arm move and I knew she was alive and my heart just dropped. I was so excited, I ran up she hugged me immediately, she wouldn't let go," he said.

He said she was shivering when they found her and another trooper wrapped her in his uniform to keep warm. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital and he said she's safe and healthy now.

"I still can't get that out of my head, her turning over and looking at me and throwing her hands up in the air. I'll never forget that."

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Arkansas State Trooper named American Association of State Troopers 2021 Trooper of the Year

 

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Press Release

Trooper James O. Ray, of the Arkansas State Police has been recognized nationally for his extremely selfless act of bravery that saved a motorist on the highway.

The American Association of State Troopers recognized Trooper James O. Ray’s heroic actions by naming him the 2021 Trooper of the Year for his pursuit of a fleeing suspect preventing a catastrophic collision between the suspect and an innocent motorist.

On December 4, 2020, at 10:37 a.m., Trooper James Ray was assisting Officer Matt Young with the Arkansas Highway Police with a vehicle that was parked on the shoulder of Interstate 40 near the town of Ozark. Officer Young had stopped with the vehicle to check on the welfare of the driver and had learned that the driver's license was suspended. The side windows on the vehicle were spray painted black preventing Officer Young from seeing through anything other than the driver's window. Knowing that Trooper James Ray was in the area, Officer Young called him to assist with the unusual encounter. When Trooper Ray arrived and he Officer Young began to contact the subject again, the subject placed his vehicle in drive and sped away from the scene traveling westbound on Interstate 40.

During the ensuing pursuit, the suspect fled at speeds over 100 mph and passed several vehicles on the shoulder as he drove very erratically. When given the opportunity to safely end the pursuit, Trooper Ray performed a Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) on the fleeing suspect vehicle. The suspect vehicle was forced into a clockwise rotation in the westbound lanes. Unfortunately, the suspect was able to regain control of his vehicle and began driving eastbound in the westbound lanes, posing an extreme danger to other motorists who were now meeting the fleeing suspect head-on. The suspect traveled a short distance before he crossed the median and began traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes, again driving head-on into the unsuspecting eastbound traffic traveling at interstate speeds.

Trooper Ray, realizing he was running out of options to stop an extremely dangerous driver, drove west in the westbound lanes to get ahead of the fleeing driver who was westbound in the eastbound lanes.

Trooper Ray was able to get ahead of the fleeing driver and crossed the median into the eastbound lanes, now facing the direction he knew the suspect vehicle was coming from.

With quick thinking, Trp. Ray stopped eastbound traffic, and began slowly driving eastbound as the suspect vehicle approached him traveling westbound. Trp. Ray knew that the next unit to be in a position on the eastbound side of the interstate was miles behind him.

Trooper Ray aimed his vehicle at the oncoming suspect and waited. He timed it perfectly, and at just the right moment, when the vehicle was passing in front of him, Trooper Ray accelerated quickly and crashed his vehicle into the front left corner of the suspect vehicle. This action forced the suspect vehicle into the median and disabled both vehicles. Trooper Ray was able to safely place the suspect into custody, and miraculously, neither he nor the suspect had any major injuries. Trooper Ray briefly had the wind knocked out of him and was very sore the next few days.

AAST would like to acknowledge and congratulate the other worthy nominees for the

2021 AAST Trooper of the Year.

Trooper Mark Bartholomew                  Massachusetts State Police

Trooper Michael Berrera                       Massachusetts State Police

Trooper Chance Berry                            Missouri State Highway Patrol

Trooper Jason Brindle                            Pennsylvania State Police

Trooper James Conway                       Missouri State Highway Patrol

Corporal Joshua DiGiacomo               Delaware State Police

Inv. Michael Grogan                            New York State Police

Detective Richard Hershey                  New Jersey State Police

Sergeant Chaz Kennedy                       Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol

Officer Verna Meenan                         California Highway Patrol

Trooper Matthew Morice                   Missouri State Highway Patrol

Trooper Tyler Oliphant                        Tennessee Highway Patrol

Trooper James Parr                             Kansas Highway Patrol

Trooper Ryan Poirier                           Arizona Department of Public Safety

Trooper Cody Rehder                          Oklahoma Highway Patrol

Sergeant Jerril Ren                               Montana Highway Patrol

Trooper Rafael Rodriguez                    Nevada Highway Patrol

Trooper Horlkins Saget                        Florida Highway Patrol

Trooper Leonzel Shavers                     Texas Department of Public Safety

Trooper Timothy Shield                       Massachusetts State Police

Corporal Paul Volker                            Missouri State Highway Patrol

A presentation ceremony will take place later this year. We would like to thank SIG-SAUER our sponsor for the Trooper of the Year event along with our other marquee sponsors; AT&T FirstNET, TREMCO Police Products, MARK43 and Searcy-Denny-Scarola-Barnhart & Shipley P.A

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From sleeping in sidecars to ‘speed cops’: Washington State Patrol marks 100-year celebration

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Washington State Patrol (WSP) is marking its centennial in 2021. Like so many things lately, the commemoration has been scaled back and reshaped because of the pandemic.

The WSP is a large and complex modern law enforcement agency, with 2,300 employees, about half of whom are commissioned officers. Those officers are the most visible aspect of the WSP along the state’s highways, but staff also investigate cybercrimes, conduct inquiries into state agencies, and are also tasked with homeland security efforts and the occasional special project. That includes protecting the 2,500 international athletes who were here in 1990 for the Goodwill Games.

But that most visible aspect of the WSP in 2021 – highway safety and law enforcement – is where the agency has its roots and its earliest history.

It was just about 100 years ago –  in the spring of 1921 – when the state Legislature created the Washington State Highway Patrol. This was not long after World War I, a period of major growth for automobiles and an expanding network of streets, roads, and highways. Horse-drawn wagons were still in use in cities and towns, but trucks were taking over the industry, and Americans were buying increasingly affordable Model-Ts and other early passenger cars.

Even rudimentary pavement on what had previously been dirt roads was making highway travel safer in some ways, and somewhat more predictable across Washington. At the same time, cars were getting faster – able to reach speeds as high as 45 miles per hour – and everything about travel by road in those pre-seatbelt, pre-safety glass, pre-airbags era was getting more dangerous and often more deadly.

Chris Loftis is director of communications for the Washington State Patrol. He acknowledges that these are intense times for law enforcement, and he says that like any agency right now, the WSP is in the midst of adaptation and evolution.

And while that modern history is being written in real-time, Loftis told KIRO Radio that the early years for what’s now the Washington State Patrol began officially on Sept. 1, 1921, when the first cohort of 16 officers – most of whom were World War I vets — were dispatched from Olympia to various areas around the state, along the early highways where traffic safety was a growing concern.

Each officer rode an Indian motorcycle, Chris Loftis says, and each of those motorcycles was equipped with a sidecar.

“And in their side cars they carried enough clothing and supplies for sometimes months long deployment,” Loftis said. “Every member was charged with patrolling at least two, sometimes three, and sometimes even four counties by themselves.”

With so much territory to cover, officers weren’t exactly able to go home every night, Loftis says.

“They slept out of those sidecars,” Loftis said. “They had tents. They had sleeping bags. They had their guns, their ammunition, and their citation booklet. They didn’t have uniforms for another three years, but they literally hit the road.”

Though they didn’t have uniforms until 1924, the officers did have armbands to wear over their civilian clothes in order to identify themselves to the motorists they pulled over for speeding or other safety violations. And, along with a tent and sleeping bag, the officers also carried a shovel in the sidecar, because part of the job was to fight any fires they happened to come across.

In December 1923, the Seattle Times profiled L.D. McCardle, who directed the Washington State Highway Patrol during its early years.

Rather than “speed cops,” McCardle told the Times, the officers “might better be called educators to the motoring public, because they make a special effort to explain the law to violators and set drivers at rights, rather than to arrest them.”

McCardle told the newspaper he’d looked north of the border for inspiration in structuring a law enforcement agency for the Evergreen State.

“When the job of organizing the patrol force was given me, I took the Northwest Mounted Police of Canada as my ideal and built up my force along the lines used by that organization,” McCardle said. “The results have been satisfactory.”

The 1920s saw the number of officers grow and the standard equipment improve; in those years, funding for the agency came from drivers’ license fees, and the number of licensed drivers was increasing as cars became more and more indispensable. Along with traffic safety, commercial vehicle weight limit enforcement and vehicle safety inspections, Chris Loftis says that more duties were assigned during a real watershed moment when the Washington State Highway Patrol was about a decade old.

That was all in the early years of the Great Depression, a time of marked civil and economic unrest.

“There were large scale riots in Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia,” Loftis said. “And a lot of those rioters and protesters came to Olympia, and the Thurston County Sheriff said he wasn’t in charge of keeping the Capitol safe. And the City of Olympia Police Department said, ‘No, we’re not in charge of keeping the Capitol safe.’”

“So, the governor and the Legislature rushed through a bill that turned the Washington State Highway Patrol into the Washington State Patrol, gave that organization full police powers,” Loftis said. “Our genesis was very much in a time of strife and a time of protest.”

During those Depression years of the 1930s, even that newly empowered agency was still fairly old-school in its management style and outlook. For instance, it would be decades before the WSP hired their first Black trooper in the 1960s, or the first female troopers in the 1970s; like so many other entities, WSP was a white male-dominated public agency.

And Loftis says that in those pre-World War II years, the hiring process could be fairly politicized, too.

“When you had a new governor, you would have a new chief and you would have kind of a purge,” Loftis said. “Whatever that governor and that new chief – whatever political party they were in – suddenly, all the highway patrolman were in that political party, and so that changed and ebbed and flowed.”

“But by the time you got to that World War II time frame,” Loftis said, “you really have a very organized, thoughtful group.”

World War II was another milestone in the early years of the Washington State Patrol. There were huge increases in civilian traffic on the highways, with a big influx of population from all over the country who were moving here to take jobs at Boeing, at shipyards and at other defense plants in Seattle, Renton, Vancouver and other communities around the state. And the military was on the move in an unprecedented mobilization, shuttling people, supplies and equipment to the bases, barracks, airfields and depots that were popping up all over the landscape.

And not unlike the military, one constant focus for law enforcement in general — which is also a significant part of the State Patrol centennial – is honoring those who have died in the line of duty. In the past 100 years, a total of 31 Washington troopers or patrolmen have joined the ranks of what WSP calls the Fallen 31.

Chris Loftis knows all the stories of the Fallen 31 by heart, including 29-year old Patrolman Gene Bolstad. Bolstad had been with the State Patrol for less than three years when he died on Sept. 3, 1957, in the surf at Long Beach where two teenagers had run into difficulty.

“He rescued one teenager,” Loftis said. “He dove in, came up to the scene, [wearing his] wool uniform, gun belt, boots, the whole thing. [He] comes up to the scene, dives into the cold water at Long Beach in that full outfit [and] saves one young man.”

“And then, I think the most heroic thing is, you’ve got to know how tired he had to be, and then he went back — he and the second young man drowned,” Loftis said.

“That act of going back, even when he had to have felt the fatigue and the fear and the worry and the cold and he went back,” Loftis continued. “That story, I think, is emblematic of who the Washington State Patrol is.”

“You’ve just got a lot of men and women who just keep going back into harm’s way,” Loftis said.

To commemorate the centennial and the fallen officers, WSP had planned a traveling exhibit that would’ve been featured at each of the agency’s eight district offices around the state, but the pandemic put a stop to the traveling component. However, an annual display in Puyallup at what’s now the Washington State Fair will be much bigger this year than in the past, assuming that the fair will take place.

“They’ve given us a much larger footprint, a much larger building, and we’re going to be working over the summer to put a lot of our old vehicles, old uniforms, just a lot of memorabilia from the last hundred years [on display],” Loftis said. “So if you come to the fair in Puyallup this year, you’ve got to come to the to the new State Patrol Museum.”

Leading up to that September fair, Chris Loftis says there may be some blue lights illuminating government buildings, and centennial messages on those highway reader-boards positioned around the state.  On September 1, which is the actual 100th anniversary, there’ll be a parade of vintage vehicles from State Patrol offices in Olympia to the fairgrounds in Puyallup.

All these special centennial activities are fine, says Loftis, but he believes there’s something more important than a display or a parade or colored lights, and which happens to be visible to Washingtonians every day.

“The biggest thing is that you’re going to see what you’ve seen for the last hundred years,” Loftis said. “You’re going to see men and women on the side of the road doing their job, and that job is to slow you down and to keep you safe.”

“There’s three things that we’ve got to do,” Loftis continued. “If we’d all slow down, if we’d all pay attention, and if we’d never drive impaired –  if we’ll do those three things, we’re going to save a lot of lives this year and every year for the next hundred.”

Ephemera collectors will be disappointed, but Loftis confirmed that citations being handed out to speeding motorists in this centennial year do not feature a commemorative 100th anniversary logo.

Loftis also emphasized that claiming you’re “attempting to reach 100 miles per hour in honor of the centennial” is never a valid excuse for breaking the traffic laws of the Evergreen State.

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'It's okay, it's okay': Florida trooper stops speeding SUV, helps deliver baby

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A state trooper who stopped a speeding SUV ended up helping to deliver a baby in Florida on Tuesday.

When two troopers pulled a man over for speeding, he told them his wife was having a baby and her contractions were about five minutes apart.

The three got her out of the SUV and onto a blanket on a grassy area on the side of the road, and things escalated quickly. The baby girl entered the world before an ambulance could arrive.

The father caught the baby and handed her to a trooper, who patted her back to help clear her lungs.

Body camera video captured the sound of the baby crying and the parents' relieved sighs.

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New memorial honors Washington Trooper Justin Shaffer killed last year in the line of duty

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One year after Washington State Patrol Trooper Justin Schaffer died in the line of duty, the community gathered to honor him.

Schaffer was killed March 24, 2020 on I-5 in Chehalis. Investigators said a man being chased by police, William Thompson, ran over and killed Schaffer.

Schaffer was trying to stop the man’s car and prosecutors said the driver intentionally hit the 28-year-old trooper.

On the anniversary of his death, Schaffer’s co-workers unveiled a memorial with his name and photograph. Private donations paid for the memorial site, adjacent to the WSP’s Lewis County headquarters.

“It’s a place for the family to come, detachment members, anyone who visits this office to see the sacrifice that was committed,” said WSP Chief John Batiste.

Schaffer, who graduated from Adna High School and Centralia College, was also the son of former Chehalis Police Chief Glenn Schaffer.

Thompson is scheduled to go on trial in November on several charges, including aggravated murder for the death of Schaffer and attempted murder of another state trooper. Prosecutors said Thompson tried to hit another trooper on the interstate.

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