West Virginia State Police trooper wins state award

WVSP Lifesaving Award

Senior Trooper J.B. Yeager of the Beckley Detachment received a Lifesaving Award Thursday in a ceremony at the West Virginia State Police headquarters. On Sept. 24, 2017, a male was on the Glade Creek Bridge on I-64 in Raleigh County, according to Sgt. R.A. Daniel, commander of the Welch detachment. The male was threatening to jump to his death. The male, who was from Oregon, had phoned 911, and a deputy with the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office had responded to speak with him. Yeager also responded and asked to speak with the male subject, Daniel said. After developing rapport with the male, she was able to convince him to step down from the bridge and transport him to a local hospital for evaluation. The male later said if it weren’t for Yeager’s kindness and compassion, he would have jumped to his death. “Trooper Yeager’s commitment to duty, compassion and caring exemplify the traits of the West Virginia State Police,” Daniel said.

8/7/18

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Ohio state troopers seize $6.3 million worth of cocaine during traffic stop

OHSP Cocaine Bust

Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers have filed felony charges against a Canadian man after finding $6.3 million worth of cocaine in a car he was driving on July 31. The Patrol says troopers stopped a rented 2018 Chrysler 300 with California plates for "several marked lane violations" on the Ohio Turnpike. A drug-sniffing canine alerted to the vehicle, and a search revealed 165 pounds of cocaine in the vehicle.

8/3/18

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Minnesota State Patrol has sights set on 'Super Speeders'

 

As the weather heats up, drivers tend to put their lead foot on the pedal. Last year, Minnesota state troopers stopped more than two dozen drivers going more than 120 miles per hour. The worst offenders were young men. The top speed: 157 miles per hour. Minnesota Department of Transportation cameras captured exotic sports cars speeding on Interstate 394, even passing school buses. A state trooper clocked the group over 100 miles an hour. “The problem I have is when you get out onto a busy congested highway and start driving like that, putting other people at risk, somebody is going to die, and I don’t want to see that happen,” said the trooper to one of the drivers in dashcam footage. That was 2016, and drivers have not slowed down. “Holy buckets man, you were cruising. Did you see how fast you were going?” said a trooper to a driver going 137 miles per hour. From drivers without a license, to those under the influence going excessive speeds, state troopers have seen it all. “These are high rates of speed. Dangerous, dangerous rates of speed,” said Lt. Paul Stricker said. He has pulled over his fair share of so-called “super speeders.” “Somebody that’s traveling much faster than the general flow of traffic. Somebody that’s going to endanger other motorists that are out there. Traveling too fast, coming up on cars fast behind them, weaving in and out of lanes,” Stricker said. He sees speeders all over the metro. It is more common when there are multiple lanes, on loops like I-494 and I-694, and main interstates like I-35W. There a super speeder is typically a driver going above 70. Hundreds across the state topped 90 in 2017, with 30 offenders pulled over for going 120 plus. The most egregious stop of the year was a 34-year-old man going 157 in a 55 mile-an-hour zone. And those were the cars state troopers caught up with. Some try to offer an excuse. “We’ll hear everything from, ‘I’m late for a meeting,’ ‘I wasn’t paying attention,’ ‘I have to go to the bathroom,’” Stricker said. While WCCO was riding along, Stricker caught a driver weaving in and out of traffic, and witnessed other cars putting on the brakes. “Kind of went a little fast coming in and he caught me. Wasn’t trying to deny it, and I should have not been doing that,” said driver Grant Wenkstern. “I think most people realize how fast they’re going, just hoping to get away with it,” Stricker said. “Some of them you have to laugh at. I’ve told people ‘I’ve heard that one.’” But when it comes down to it, it is no laughing matter. The state patrol wants drivers to realize speed can be deadly. It was a factor in 88 fatal crashes last year. Troopers on the move use built-in radar to capture how fast a driver is going. Along the highway, they use a handheld radar to nab a car’s speed. “We’re here to change driving behavior to make it safe for everybody on the road,” Stricker said. At the end of the day, they want drivers to follow the posted speed. Exceeding it can be costly. “Our ultimate goal is for people to get home we want them to get to their destination safely,” Stricker said. We are in a stretch of what law enforcement calls the “100 deadliest days on the road.” It runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There is extra enforcement on the road. Speeding tickets vary by county, but the cost is typically $110 for going 10 miles over the limit. Fines double at 20 miles over. Drivers can lose their license for six months if they are caught driving 100 miles per hour or higher.

8/2/18

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2018 Best Looking Cruiser Contest Results

2019 Calendar Pictures

 2018 Best Looking Cruiser Contest Results

Congratulations! To the Kentucky State Police for being voted the “2018 America’s Best Looking Cruiser”.

This is the first year the Kentucky State Police has received the honor and will be the cruiser featured on the cover

of the “2019 America’s Best Looking Cruiser Calendar”.

 The contest received over 250,000 “likes” and reached over 1 million people. Thank you to everyone who participated

to make this year’s contest a success.

 The 2018 top 13 finalists are listed below:

1st          Kentucky State Police

2nd          Georgia State Patrol

3rd          North Carolina State Highway Patrol

4th           Ohio State Highway Patrol

5th           Tennessee Highway Patrol

6th           Alabama Law Enforcement Agency

7th           Florida Highway Patrol

8th           Delaware State Police

9th           Michigan State Police

10th         Idaho State Police

11th         Texas Department of Public Safety

12th         Mississippi Highway Patrol

13th         Pennsylvania State Police

The 2019 Calendars will be available to purchase at www.statetroopers.org beginning September 2018.

Watch for the announcement on the AAST Facebook page.

Net proceeds of the calendar sales will benefit the American Association of State Troopers Foundation that provides educational scholarships to dependents of AAST members.

7/26/18

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Lone Star Lawmen: Texas Rangers work on area's most challenging cases

Texas Rangers

A picture of the three Texas Rangers from Larry McMurtry’s novel-turned-TV miniseries Lonesome Dove hangs on a wall in the office of Texas Ranger Brandon Bess in the Liberty County Courthouse. “Which one are you?” Bess is asked. Glancing at the iconic photo, Bess responds, “I would have to say that I would be more like Gus and Ryan is more like Woodrow.” “So, who is Jake Spoon?” he is asked. Sitting across from each other in Bess’ office, Bess and Texas Ranger Ryan Clendennen, both amused at the question, look at each other for an answer. Nobody wants to be Jake Spoon, the Ranger-turned-outlaw. Like the characters in the TV show, the partnership between the two Rangers, assigned to neighboring counties, is one built on trust, friendship and a respect for each other’s strengths. Bess is assigned to Liberty, San Jacinto and Hardin counties while Clendennen’s territory includes Polk, Tyler and Jasper counties. The two Rangers have developed such an ease between them that each automatically knows the responsibilities to assume when investigating crimes. “When we go out to complex murder investigations together, I know Ryan is going to process the crime scene as an expert. He’s going to map it, read the blood and collect evidence,” Bess said. “I am going to start looking at videos, running down the witness list and start collecting all the police officers involved to see what happened before we got there. Then potentially go out and interview witnesses to the case. There is a lot of hard work that goes into it.” The more difficult cases, they say, are the ones that seem simple and straightforward. “When we get a murder case, we stress about it less. We know we will be there for days on end, long hours in a row, but it is what it is. You know that someone is going to jail for it. You just have to identify your suspects,” Bess said. “We stress over the easy cases, like an assault between public officials, because you aren’t sure if a crime has occurred and you have to be certain.” Murder cases involving children, however, are the worst and leave scars, despite the invisible shield that all law enforcement officers seem to possess. It comes with the badge. “We have to put on a shield to see the things we see and be able to get the job done so we can speak for the weak and for those who can no longer speak for themselves. That’s what we are here for,” Bess said. When a gunman recently opened fire inside of Sante Fe High School, killing nine students and a teacher, Bess and Clendennen assisted in the investigation.  Before that, Clendennen also helped with the investigation of the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Last year, Bess was called upon to interview serial killer Anthony Allen Shore, who was executed on Jan. 18, 2018. Shore, who was convicted of one murder but confessed to four others, was thought to be a suspect in the 1983 murder of 20-year-old Susan Eads of Seabrook. Bess says he is certain Shore was not responsible for the crime. “I believe he committed more murders, but we proved that he did not kill Susan. He provided me with DNA and it did not match the DNA in Susan’s case. Shore also told me why he wouldn’t have targeted Susan. You can look at his victimology – the types of people he targeted – and it didn’t match,” Bess said. According to Bess, Shore admitted to sexually assaulting as many as 40-50 women in Texas and other states, but with no evidence or victims’ outcries, the investigation died with the condemned man. Both Clendennen and Bess were initially involved in the interviewing of Shore, but Clendennen exited the interview early on when Shore seemed to have a clear disdain for him.  “It goes back to the first question about whether we relate to Woodrow or Gus. I sat in on the interview, but Shore just didn’t like me. We made an immediate decision that I would exit the room because Brandon had a nice rapport with the guy,” Clendennen said. “Looking back on it now, it’s kind of funny. I remember Brandon telling me several months later that he had gotten a Christmas card from the guy. “Think about that. Here is a guy on death row and he’s built such a rapport with the Ranger who interviewed him that he sent him a Christmas card not long before he was scheduled to be executed,” Clendennen continued. When asked what cases keep them up at night, they said “cold cases,” those that appear to be unsolvable without a major development or confession. For Bess, the case that haunts him is the 1982 murder of Monica “Christy” Wilson, who was killed at the age of 20. At the time of her death, Wilson was a newlywed and worked at a convenience store named Snappy’s in Liberty. The morning after her disappearance, Wilson’s body was found on FM 1409 in Dayton near an area known to locals as Dead Man’s Curve. Her killer was never identified. Clendennen says the unsolved murders of two young people from Polk and San Jacinto counties top his cold case list.  “I think a lot about the Natasha Atchley case and the Carl Wills’ murder. There have been a lot of good investigators who have worked on the cases, but the thing about cold cases is a lot of times there isn’t a lot of evidence,” he said. “It almost takes a confession or a CODIS hit to get a suspect.” In 1992, 19-year-old Natasha Atchley disappeared following a birthday party in her hometown of Shepherd, Texas. The next morning her body was found in the charred remains of a vehicle that was set afire about a mile from where the party was held. Carl Wills, 22, was murdered in late August of 2011. His body was found on Sept. 1 by a fisherman in a roadside ditch on CR 2132 in north Liberty County, a few miles south of Rye. Wills had died from gunshot wounds to his back and head. Investigators believe that Wills, who lived in Livingston at the time, was killed elsewhere and dumped in Liberty County. “The cold cases require a ton of dedicated time, and you have to pick them up and drop them all the time to work on other cases,” Bess said. “Think about how many other cases are like that out there.” One of the biggest misconceptions about Rangers, they say, is that they are an internal affairs division to investigate law enforcement officers. “We actually are here to assist law enforcement. About 90 percent of the cases sitting on my desk, and the cases we handle, are assisting other agencies in their investigations,” Bess said. “But we are not in the business of interjecting ourselves into local departments’ investigations,” Clendennen added. Their role is often misunderstood by the public, they say. “People think they can just call us up to report a crime. We take citizens’ complaints but advise them to start with the agency in their jurisdiction,” Bess said. “We will do our best and be objective. The one thing we never want to do is harm the public’s opinion of the Rangers, no matter what we do.” Even when they are away from work, they know they have a reputation to maintain as one of the 162 Texas Rangers representing the state. “There just aren’t a lot of us across the state. We are just another police officer. The only thing that is different for us is that we are part of a family that has been around for almost 200 years. Our history is the oldest police agency in the world,” Bess said. “Once you are a Ranger, you are always a Ranger.”

Article courtesy of Vanessa Brashier with the Bluebonnet News

7/25/18

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