Montana Highway Patrol welcomes four new troopers
The Montana Highway Patrol welcomed four new members to its ranks during a ceremony in Helena on Friday. New troopers Calvin Jimmerson and Toni Snelling of Billings, Branden Timm of Big Timber, and Perry Woodland Cascade received graduation certificates and their badges, after months of training in the MHP Advanced Academy. Montana Attorney General Tim Fox was among the leaders who welcomed the graduates. He encouraged them to think about the importance of character. “Public service is really a time-honored profession, for which your reward will only be as meaningful as the effort, energy and heart you invest into your work,” Fox said. Col. Tom Butler, chief of the Highway Patrol, asked the new troopers to build relationships in their communities, treat others with respect and take time for their own families. “Today, I’m honored to have you joining the family of the best law enforcement team in Montana, as we continue the important work of serving the people of the great state of Montana,” he said. The cadets selected Jimmerson to speak on behalf of their class. He decided to apply to MHP after several years working in IT. “It’s a little bit different pace, going from sitting at a desk to sitting in a patrol car,” he said. Jimmerson said he’s honored to carry on MHP’s legacy. “I’m just overwhelmed by the support that we’ve had here for graduation and up to this point, the last six months of training,” he said. “There are so many people that are behind law enforcement and it means a lot.” Jimmerson will be working in his home community of Billings. As a trooper, he said he wants to help address drunk driving and drug trafficking in Montana. All four of the new troopers will serve initially in eastern Montana, where leaders say they needed to account for retirements and other job openings. Friday’s event was the 63rd graduation ceremony for the MHP Advanced Academy. Leaders said this graduating class was unusually small. They said, in many cases, the Highway Patrol receives fewer applications when the job market in other industries is stronger.
Minnesota Trooper of the Year
Dion Pederson of Park Rapids has been named the Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) trooper of the year. Pederson, an accident reconstruction specialist and academy instructor whose career as a trooper started in 1997, received the award Feb. 14. It recognized his service during 2017. An announcement about the award on the MSP's website said, "It has been more than 20 years since Dion Pederson became a Minnesota State Patrol trooper. Yet, year after year, he continues leaving an agency in a better place than the year before." Pederson, the statement continued, "is one of the leading crash reconstruction specialists in the state. He's a mentor. He's a crash data retrieval specialist. He's a firearms instructor and a certified armor. Oh, and he still somehow finds time to patrol the roads, present at conferences and represent the State Patrol with nothing but professionalism." Pederson studied law enforcement at Alexandria Technical and Community College, where he met his wife, Sue, in 1986. He started his career as a deputy with the Norman County Sheriff's Office. "So, I'm actually in my 29th year of law enforcement," he said in an interview. In 1997, he joined the MSP, where Sue had been a trooper since 1989. She is currently a sergeant, the senior trooper in the local office. Pederson teaches firearms and crash investigation at the law enforcement academy in Camp Ripley, where cadets witness real vehicle crashes using dummies "so they can see the live action, how things actually pan out," he said. In real-life accidents, Pederson analyzes the scene, the condition of the vehicles, including the possibility of neglected mechanical issues, and analyzes data from the airbag system's "black box," which is actually silver. "There's just a ton of information in there," he said, "like if seat belts were worn, the pre-impact speeds, was there braking, were there steering maneuvers." Newer vehicles also have yaw sensors and steering wheel angle sensors, showing whether and how a driver reacted to a threat. "It will tell me," he said, "what the car was doing, what the driver was doing; but generally, we can't tell you what the driver was thinking. We can take their word at some point, but evidence won't lie. Skid marks, data that I find on the scene, my speed analysis — that stuff doesn't lie." "If you can make heads or tails of what I wrote," he said, "I think that's good. That's how I explain it at the academy, too. Don't try to sound smarter than you are. Don't try to dazzle people with the word-of-the-day. Just be yourself." In addition to his on-the-road duties and his mentoring work, Pederson also made presentations about crash analysis last year at the east- and west-central Toward Zero Deaths conferences. His advice for today's cadets who would like to see a Trooper of the Year Award on their desk someday is: "Take your calls. Be a good partner. Work. Don't be a load. Everybody has days when you're busting your butt all day long, and there are days when there's not very much going on — you appreciate those days. It actually works well. You go out and work traffic, stop some cars, interact with the people. Hopefully you're making a difference out there." Pederson acknowledged that every time a public safety officer puts on the uniform, especially nowadays, it's dangerous. "When you start your shift, your goal is to make sure you sign off at the end of your shift and go be with your family." In a larger sense, he said, his goal as a trooper is to help people. Besides the opportunity to do that, he said what keeps him putting on the uniform day after day is the daily mystery of what will happen next. "When you get into your squad car," he said, "when you sign on for the day, you have no idea what you're going to be doing. It might be going to a crash. You might be going to a medical call. You might be helping the county at a different call. To me, it's the thrill of the unknown."
Medal of Valor awarded to Texas Highway Patrol Corporal
A Big Spring woman received the Department of Public Safety's top honor last week at an awards ceremony in Austin. Texas Highway Patrol Cpl. Hope Hohertz was awarded the Medal of Valor, stemming from an incident that occurred Dec. 26, 2016, according to a DPS news release. Hohertz overheard a Big Spring Police Department dispatch report of a person with a gun at a local business and responded to assist the police department in a traffic stop of a suspect armed with a handgun and rifle, the release states. The suspect pointed a handgun with a silencer at Hohertz, according to the release, and Hohertz responded by firing at the suspect, who fled in his vehicle as more officers arrived. Hohertz located the man as he left his vehicle with the semi-automatic rifle. He fired 28 rounds at authorities, injuring a Big Spring police officer. When the suspect tried to reload his weapon, the release states, Hohertz opened fire with her shotgun, wounding the suspect and bringing the standoff to an end. Multiple loaded handgun and semi-automatic rifle magazines were found in the vehicle. The suspect was later convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Record setting Maryland State Police class of troopers graduate
The 147th trooper candidate class joined Maryland’s finest Friday morning as they were pinned with the badges of Maryland State Police troopers in a ceremony at Century High School. The auditorium was filled with friends and family of the graduates as well as staff members who saw the candidates through their training, members of various law enforcement agencies throughout the state and beyond, and Gov. Larry Hogan. During their time in the academy, the class of 47 set records. From the start of their training until the awarding of diplomas 27 weeks of rigorous work later, only one candidate did not complete the training, the fewest members lost in state history. They also raised funds in the 2017 Komen Maryland Race for the Cure and raised more than $11,000 for Special OlympicsMaryland during the 2018 Polar Bear Plunge. Hogan spoke to the graduates prior to the presentation of badges and diplomas. Maryland’s governor shared an anecdote from 2014, on the day he became the governor-elect and troopers from the Maryland State Police arrived to serve as executive protection. He said the full responsibility of the office and the men and women he oversees became clear to him. He said that though they would face difficulty and criticism in their careers, he and his office would stand behind them with pride. “You will always have the full support of your governor,” he said. Capt. Michael Tagliaferri, commander of the Education and Training Division, addressed the class of candidates who were his first as commander of the division. “It was an incredible experience to watch you each as you develop and grow as individuals,” he said to the class. He advised them to, most importantly, never forget the core values of the Maryland State Police: integrity, fairness and service. Col. William Pallozzi, superintendent of the MSP, also spoke to congratulate the 47 graduates on a badge that is “earned, never given.” He emphasized that the responsibilities of troopers are serious and vital. “You will be looked upon as the one person in an out-of-control situation who can restore order,” he said. As a group, the class took their oath of office before they were individually pinned with a badge and presented their diploma. As one of the final moments of the ceremony, the graduates recited their class motto as one: “In times of strife, we came to life.” On a day that marked the beginning of a career for 47 troopers, retired 1st Lt. David Lauder, one of the oldest living retirees of the MSP at age 95, reflected on his time in the agency. He said if he could do it all again and join the force, he would be on patrol that afternoon. His advice to the graduates? “Smile when you can, but be polite to everyone all the time. Only growl and look stern when you have to.”