Off-duty trooper, good Samaritan receive special Highway Patrol awards

SDHP awards

The fiery car crash in Bath back in February could've killed as many as 10 people.  That wreck could've easily turned tragic had it not been for the quick thinking of an off-duty South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper and a passing motorist.  Today, they were honored for their lifesaving, split-second decisions.  Highway Trooper Cortney Paul received the Superintendent's Award after her efforts with the car crash.  "It was me doing my job.  I was trained for this. This is who I am and this is what I do," says Trooper Paul.  The nomination goes through a special awards committee in the Highway Patrol.  "They hear all of the award nominations and then they recommend the actual award.  Then, it's approved by the superintendent of the Highway Patrol," explains Major Rick Miller with the Highway Patrol.  It's an award that is given out to troopers for their efforts, but the honor is still present.  Trooper Paul appreciates the fact that the community gets to see the two getting presented with the award to help them celebrate everyone surviving.  Good Samaritan Justin Dirksen was given the Life-Saving Award, which has the same process at Trooper's Paul.  This type of award is the highest award given to civilians.  Dirksen didn't think the award was really necessary because he thought his actions weren't anything out-of-the-ordinary.  Having the ability to chat with the six teenagers was one way to bring closure to the whole incident.  "It's good to see them progressing, moving on with their lives, becoming the young ladies that they are.  It's really fortunate to know that they'll attend graduation and move on with their lives," explains Trooper Paul.  "It's nice to finally meet them all.  It was an interesting night, so I didn't get to know all of them or even know their names at that point.  It's nice to meet them and know they're fine and that they're going to turn out okay," says Dirksen.  The teenage survivors continue to heal from wounds both seen, and unseen, and say they remain thankful for the support they've seen from everyone in the Aberdeen community.

5/1/17

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Utah Highway Patrol K9 sniffs out 50 pounds of meth hidden beneath trap doors

UHP Meth Arrest

Troopers assisted by a K9 located 50 pounds of methamphetamine hidden beneath two trap doors inside a car after a traffic stop near the Utah/Arizona border Tuesday.  According to a press release from the Utah Highway Patrol, a trooper stopped a 2010 Ford Taurus travelling northbound on I-15 near mile post 2 around 4:30 p.m. and called for a K9 trooper after the initial investigation.  The K9 indicated the presence of drugs, and a further search revealed two trap doors--one each under the driver's and front passenger seats.  Once the trap doors were opened, troopers located 42 brick-shaped packages wrapped in plastic that contained 50 pounds of methamphetamine.  “How much they’re exactly producing?  I don’t know, but we’re seeing more of it on the roads,” said Capt. Tyler Kotter with the State Bureau of Investigation.  Police arrested the driver, 27-year-old Rudy Ramirez of Las Vegas, and booked him into the Washington County Jail. Booking records indicate he faces charges for drug distribution, possession of drug paraphernalia, and using a vehicle with a contraband compartment.  Kotter said arrests like these do more to combat the spread of drugs than simply remove a single load from the supply.  “I think it sends a message to those organizations that are involved in this activity to say we are looking for this and it’s not acceptable to have that going through our state,” Kotter said.  Police believe the drugs originated in California and were being taken to the upper mid-west.

5/1/17

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Officers begin new campaign to stop aggressive drivers after string of fatal wrecks

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Officers announced a new campaign Wednesday to target aggressive drivers in the area after a string of fatal wrecks in Horry County.  Patrolmen from the South Carolina Highway Patrol, Myrtle Beach Police Department and Horry County Police Department will be out in force looking for aggressive drivers to “target zero traffic deaths” this weekend.  “Beginning tomorrow, motorists will see more blue lights as an enhanced enforcement begins in an effort to stop aggressive driving,” Major Melvin Warren of the Highway Patrol said at a press conference Wednesday.  “Our target zero goal is to reduce fatalities and collisions on our states and roadways caused by aggressive and careless driving behaviors.”  Twelve people have died in fatal collisions throughout the county so far this year, according to the S.C. Department of Public Safety.  “Many drivers, whether they are local or traveling through our state all seem to have one thing in common. They are in a hurry,” Warren said.  “They are too often making bad choices behind the wheel that have deadly consequences.”  Officers from local agencies will focus on aggressive and distracted driving behaviors “that put us all in harm’s way,” he said.  During the three-day blitz, patrolmen will keep a close eye on heavily traveled roadways, including the U.S. 17 and U.S. 501 corridors.  “Our goal is to stop aggressive driving so we can stop the tragedy of highway fatalities,” said Lt. Greg Caulder of the Highway Patrol.  “Last year, 70 people died on Horry County roadways.”  “We need every driver to first take an inventory of their own behaviors behind the wheel such as slowing down, of course buckling up, leaving more space, signaling when you make a lane change and please don’t pick a fight with the driver who cuts you off.  In short, get back to the basics of courteous driving,” Caulder said.  “Our goal is to use proactive enforcement with an eye towards changing driving behavior in ultimately reducing traffic deaths,” said Capt. Gil Owens, who leads the statewide target zero team with the Highway Patrol.  “We need every motorist to join us.”  The city of Myrtle Beach has had two fatal wrecks so far this year, said Myrtle Beach police Chief Warren Gall, adding that his team looks forward to working with troopers to target zero deaths this weekend.  The Horry County Police Department is dedicating 18 officers to the initiative this weekend, said HCPD Chief Deputy Lance Winburn.  “We look forward to this opportunity, hoping it will make a difference in our community.”

4/28/17

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49 new troopers become part of the Washington State Patrol

WSP Graduates 4 26 17

At a ceremony held in the Capitol Rotunda this afternoon, 49 Washington State Patrol (WSP) troopers were sworn in by the Associate Chief Justice of the Washington State Supreme Court Mary E. Fairhurst.  They were presented their commission cards by Governor Jay Inslee and Chief John R. Batiste, who welcomed them into an organization known and trusted by the citizens of Washington State.  After completing over 1,000 hours of training, these men and women will join Washington's premier law enforcement organization.  The Washington State Patrol Academy produces approximately three cadet classes each biennium, which accounts for about 100 to 120 new troopers.  Historically, only about four to six percent of the total number of applicants makes the grade to become WSP troopers.  "The 49 cadets graduating today endured a rigorous application process, extensive background investigation, and received the best training, unmatched anywhere else in the nation," said Chief John Batiste. "Today, they will join the ranks of Washington's finest, as troopers of the Washington State Patrol."  A tradition that began 96 years ago on June 21, 1921, when six brave men kick-started their Indian motorcycles, strapped on an arm band, and started a proud tradition known today as the Washington State Patrol.  The tradition continues to this day with the graduation of the 107th Trooper Basic Training Class at the Capitol Rotunda, signaled by the stream of shiny white patrol vehicles parked in the lanes leading up to the Capitol steps.

4/27/17

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Delaware Corporal gunned down while investigating a suspicious vehicle

Fallen Delaware Trooper 1

Corporal Stephen Ballard was shot and killed while investigating a suspicious vehicle at a gas station on Pulaski Highway, near Salem Church Road, in Bear, Delaware.  He made contact with two people he observed in the vehicle, at which point of the men began struggling with him.  The man pushed Corporal Ballard away from him and began to run.  After taking several steps he turned around and opened fire on Corporal Ballard, fatally wounding him.  Responding officers apprehended one of the subjects at the scene.  The second subject fled to his home where he barricaded himself inside.  Corporal Ballard had served with the Delaware State Police for 8-1/2 years and was assigned to Troop 2, Glasgow.  He is survived by his wife.

4/28/17

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