South Carolina Highway Patrol graduates 39 new troopers
The South Carolina Highway Patrol held graduation ceremonies for 39 troopers from its High Basic class 101 Wednesday. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson spoke to the graduates on behalf of Gov. McMaster and read a letter to the graduates from the governor. "Leadership is not about the perks and privileges that come with it. It is about service," Wilson told the graduates. Basic 101 brings the total number of troopers in South Carolina to 798. The SCHP Basic Training Program consists of 21 weeks of extensive law enforcement training in-residence. After graduation troopers must complete a minimum of 400 hours in the field training. "Your job is important because you do something that few people can't even imagine," said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith. Troopers are assigned to areas based upon population, calls for service, and the number of licensed drivers in an area. "Many long hours of training and sacrifice lead up to this exciting day," said SCHP Col. Michael Oliver. At each graduation, the Patrol presents distinguished awards to outstanding troopers from the class. The winners from the 2017 Basic Class 101 are: Trooper Spencer Nieto of Goose Creek is the winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award. TroNieto was diagnosed with cancer in his 16th week of training. Throughout his treatments, he remained committed and graduated with honors. Trooper Chad Richards was presented with the Marksmanship Award after he demonstrated the best marksmanship during fire training. Lastly, Trooper Stephen Steagall of Gaffney was presented the Physical Fitness Award after he excelled on all physical training test during each exercise. The South Carolina Highway Patrol strives to ensure public safety by protecting and serving the people of South Carolina.
State Police warn warmer weather poses danger for children
The Kentucky State Police have issued a warning to remind parents not to leave a child alone in a hot car. Police say law enforcement agencies answer calls every year about unattended children in vehicles. KidsandCars.org reported that 39 children died in the U.S. during 2016 from vehicular heat stroke. Kentucky State Police Lt. Michael Webb said vehicle heat stroke is often misunderstood, and a majority of parents are misinformed and would like to believe that they could never "forget" their child in a vehicle. "The most dangerous mistake a parent can make is to think leaving a child alone in their car could never happen to them," Webb said. "In these fast-paced times, it is easy for parents to get distracted and forget their child is in the car with them." Webb said that the interior of a car heats up very quickly and temperatures inside can reach 125 degrees in minutes. "A child's body heats up three to five times faster than that of an adult," Webb said. "The temperature inside a car can rise 19 degrees in 10 minutes. Together, this can be deadly in a very short period of time." Kentucky passed "Bryan's Law" in 2000, which makes a person liable for a second-degree manslaughter or first-degree wanton endangerment for leaving a child younger than eight years old in a motor vehicle where circumstances pose a grave risk of death. Police have also asked citizens to keep an eye out for children left in vehicles on hot days and to call 911 if they think the occupant is in danger.
Police have offered the following safety tips:
• Never leave a child in an unattended car, even with the windows down.
• Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don't overlook sleeping babies.
• Always lock your car. If a child is missing, check the car first, including the trunk. Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play
• Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat and when the child is put in the seat, place the animal in the front with the driver as a reminder.
• Place your purse or briefcase in the back seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car.
• Make ‘look before you leave’ a routine whenever you get out of the car.
Governor Edwards appoints Colonel Kevin Reeves superintendent of Louisiana State Police
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the appointment of Colonel Kevin Reeves as the Deputy Secretary of Public Safety Services and the Superintendent of the Louisiana State Police (LSP). In March, Col. Reeves was appointed to the position on an interim basis. “Since his appointment, Col. Reeves has done an exceptional job at the state police and he has won the praise of his colleagues and law enforcement across the state,” said Gov. Edwards. “In preparing for hurricane season or responding to severe weather, Col. Reeves has accepted the challenge of leading this agency and serving the people of Louisiana. I have been extremely impressed by his level of professionalism and the new ideas he has brought to the department. I look forward to continuing to work with him on a more permanent basis, and I am grateful that he and his wife, Kristi, have accepted this position.” “I am humbled by the Governor’s permanent appointment to serve as Superintendent of the Louisiana State Police and Deputy Secretary of Public Safety. It is a tremendous responsibility to ensure the safety and security of the citizens of our state, and I shall never take it for granted,” said Colonel Kevin Reeves. “However, this appointment is not about Kevin Reeves. My priority is to support every DPS employee and provide the training, tools and technology to be successful. As we move forward, accountability begins with me and extends to every employee in the department. We know we have some challenges ahead, but we will face these challenges together and be stronger because of them. The public demands nothing less.” Major Reeves, a native of Baton Rouge, received his degree from Louisiana Tech University. He began his career at the Louisiana State Police in 1990 as a trooper assigned to motorcycle patrols with Troop A in Baton Rouge. His career in the state police brought him to Troop F in Monroe in 1993, where he served as a squad leader for the mobile field force and as a case agent and undercover agent on many narcotics investigations and operations for the Bureau of Investigations. In 2008, he became the Troop Commander of Troop F before assuming the role of Command Inspector of Patrol Operations and Commander of Statewide Mobile Field Force Team in 2013. Major Reeves is married to Kristi Hall Reeves and they have three children – Kaleb, Kyle and Klayton.
Where are Florida's Highway Patrol troopers?
Drunks weaving in and out of lanes on highways. Drivers texting and paying little attention to the road. Cars drag racing at high speed. And white-knuckled, frustrated motorists who ask: Why don’t we see Florida Highway Patrol troopers stopping these people? Answer: Because there are not as many as there should be on our state roadways. FHP is struggling with chronic manpower shortages and high turnover because Florida troopers’ pay ranks dead last in the nation. The ripple effect is being felt by drivers who rarely observe troopers on patrol and must wait longer for a response if they are involved in a crash. The FHP is currently operating with 201 vacancies in a workforce that is supposed to be 1,946 at full capacity. Starting salary for a Florida rookie trooper is $33,977 — the lowest among the 49 states that have a state patrol. (Hawaii does not.) California’s starting troopers earn the highest starting wage, at $74,700. In Texas, it’s $73,000. In Alabama, at No. 48, it’s $35,590. “They are in a dire situation and it’s a disgrace,” said Charles Miller, a retired Miami-Dade police officer who worked as an auxiliary FHP trooper for the final three years of his 37-year career. “Where are the troopers? You can drive a considerable distance and never see one. There’s extreme speeding and more and more horrific crashes. It’s a demanding job and they often have no backup. It’s a shame for the men and women who put their lives on the line for Floridians.” Of the 226 law enforcement agencies in Florida, the highway patrol ranks 174th in starting salary, according to an Office of the Inspector General report. That puts FHP ahead of such small towns as Chipley and Chattahoochee, but far behind Miami-Dade County ($54,090), Broward County ($47,482), Palm Beach County ($51,312) and such local cities as Pinecrest, which ranked No. 1 at $64,708 and Lighthouse Point ($60,000), Boca Raton and Sunrise ($57,000), Miami Shores ($54,038), Miami Gardens ($47,800) and Miami ($45,929). FHP is battling an 8.83 percent turnover rate. Plus, the academy that would typically have 80 recruits per class currently has only 25. Sixty-three recent graduates are in field training. “Due to attrition and retirements, the FHP has experienced a steady shortage of sworn members over the past few years,” said FHP Capt. Jeffrey Bissainthe. “FHP uses a proven staffing model to determine minimum staffing requirements for each of the FHP troops, but when there are fewer troopers on the road, it may mean a slower response time for drivers involved in a crash or disabled motorists who are stranded on the side of the road.” Higher pay in other states and municipalities is luring Florida troopers away, said Matt Puckett, executive director of the Florida Police Benevolent Association. “We think salaries should be in the mid-40s in order to be competitive,” he said. Drivers have reason to worry. Compare data from 2011 to 2016. The number of licensed drivers in Florida has increased by 1 million during that time and the number of annual crashes has increased from 229,000 to 395,000. Yet the number of traffic citations issued by the FHP has decreased, from 947,000 to 742,000. Speeding tickets are down 18 percent. Response time should be 30 minutes or less, but has increased. As a consequence of lower trooper numbers, local police and sheriff’s officers are working more crashes on state roads — almost 50 percent of accidents statewide. “It used to be if I needed help from a trooper late at night, I could count on a quick response,” said Miller, the ex-Miami-Dade captain who often found that during the three years he patrolled for the FHP he would be the only trooper on duty in the entire north end of Miami-Dade County. “They used to be our pursuit cars on a robbery. They don’t do that anymore. There can be a major rollover wreck on I-95 and no trooper available.” DUI arrests can take two hours or more to process, which further exacerbates troopers’ lack of presence on the road. Some relief is on the way. Included in the state budget passed by the Florida Legislature and awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s signature is a pay increase, to $36,223 for starting salaries, and a 5 percent raise for all state law enforcement officers. The PBA had lobbied for a $10,000 across the board raise and incentives or a step pay plan that would reward troopers for longevity. “If you hit certain benchmarks, you should earn increases in pay,” Puckett said. “We will have to revive bills on career development. People are happy with the 5 percent raise but we need to deal with the retention problem.”