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.