Florida Highway Patrol officers return from Puerto Rico

FHP officers return from Puerto Rico

A total of fifty of them traveled to the island to help as much as they could.  After just a couple of days after getting back, Sargent David Rodriguez shared his memories.  "In my 20 years of law enforcement, I never thought that I would be on the island of Puerto Rico in my uniform, in my Florida Highway Patrol Uniform in Puerto Rico, working,” said Rodriguez.  Conditions on the island were a difficult sight when the group first landed.  Most of them were either Puerto Rican or from Puerto Rican families.  Sgt. Rodriguez’s family was from the island, and he had traveled every summer when he was a child.  "I knew what the island looked like beforehand,” he said, "It was tough to see all that.”  Sgt. Rodriguez and state troopers joined forces with local Puerto Rican law enforcement to get the island back up and running.  "We had to do traffic control, because obviously the traffic control signals were out in over 400 intersections, island-wise,” Rodriguez said.  Wearing their Florida uniforms and bright yellow traffic vests, they stood in the middle of the road with traffic paddles that signaled drivers in Spanish.  "They knew we were there to help,” Rodriguez said of the Puerto Rican community.  Everyone was hands-on while working for 28 days straight.  They only had a one-day break, where they enjoyed some time at a local beach.  "We did a lot of humanitarian deliveries up in the mountainous areas, which sustained the most damage,” Rodriguez said.  He remembered one specific delivery in vivid detail.  “It was a special needs, where people were missing limbs and stuff like that.  There was no power.  They needed generators, so we brought generators up there,” Rodriguez said.  He explained that there were several struggles along the way trying to get the help out.  "It was frustrating to be there to help, and just see that lack of communication between government and the entities on the island [that] prevented a lot of stuff from moving,” Rodriguez said.  However, that didn’t prevent the Puerto Rican people to be warm and thankful to the officers.  "They would offer food to our people out in the street or on posts.  They would bring water to us,” he smiled.  This was Sgt. Rodriguez's longest deployment in his career, and it was all worth it.  "I felt like I had to be there.  To me, it was rewarding, very humbling to do that,” he said.     According to Sgt. Rodriguez, all officers who traveled to Puerto Rico to help were actually sworn in as officers for the island, which he described was a very special and rewarding moment for all.



Florida State Trooper Revives Driver

A woman found unresponsive and without a pulse in a car Wednesday on Alligator Alley was revived by a state trooper and then arrested because she was driving under the influence, authorities said. A Florida Highway Patrol trooper reported finding her vehicle on Interstate 75 near mile marker 85 in Collier County at 11:45 p.m. The vehicle was resting against the south shoulder fence along lanes for eastbound traffic, according to an FHP news release Thursday. A woman later identified as Cory Lynn Webster, 32, of Delray Beach, was sitting in the driver's seat , and the car was locked, the news release states. Concerned for her well-being, the trooper broke the rear passenger window to gain access and found Webster did not have a pulse, the release states. To gain better access, the trooper then broke the driver's side window, carried Webster out of the car and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, reviving the woman a short time later. Webster was taken to a Physicians Regional hospital in Collier. Upon being treated and released from the hospital, Webster was arrested by the trooper. She faces charges of driving under the influence (third violation in 10 years) and driving while her license was suspended, the release states. Drug test results are pending, but a breath test indicated her alcohol concentration level was .039, according to FHP. The legal limit in Florida is.08.

South Carolina Highway Patrol want to equip troopers with new rifles

A South Carolina law enforcement agency is seeking to purchase and arm personnel with semi-automatic weapons in the upcoming year. Recent shootings in Las Vegas and Texas have prompted this initiative, said Col. Chris Williamson of the South Carolina Highway Patrol. The need for an upgrade in weaponry has been overlooked in past years, he said. But as state legislators are expected to review its annual budget in January, Williamson said, he hopes they consider approving more than a half-million dollars to buy more than 600 semi-automatic rifles. “From the highway patrol standpoint, we’ve already decided that this is a necessity,” he said. “We’re just hoping that the budget request is honored.” Currently, 600 of 800 troopers are armed with shotguns. Williamson said the budget approval will allow remaining personnel to upgrade to semi-automatic rifles, which provide longer range as well as coverage of a larger area, should an active shooting situation arise. “With recent active shooting situations, all suspects were armed with long rifles that took out people from a larger area and distance, so in the modern age now, we’re looking to equip all of our law enforcement with these patrol rifles as we transition from a shotgun,” Williamson said. The budget request has been submitted for the upcoming legislative session. Williamson said troopers are already trained to use semi-automatic rifles, but if the request is approved, the agency will enhance the training. “We’ve been training all of our individuals with the rifle and the rifles will do a whole lot better than the shotguns,” he said. “This is a requirement to protect our citizens. It won’t do us any good to have faster response and when we get there we don’t have the possible tools to react to a threat.”


Deputy accidentally shoot Oregon state trooper with Taser, apologizes with cake

Oregon trooper tased

An Oregon state trooper received a cake as an apology after an Umatilla County deputy accidentally shot him with a Taser while they both responded to a domestic violence call.  A state police Facebook post Monday shows Trooper Mitchell Goldman smiling while holding the white frosting cake brought to him by the unidentified deputy who shocked the trooper and a suspect at the same time last week.  On the top: "Sorry you got tased" written in blue icing.  Goldman arrived at the scene first and encountered a man who "became belligerent" after the trooper tried to pat him down to check if he had any weapons, according to state police.  The two got into a scuffle, which was still going on when the deputy arrived.  The deputy fired his Taser.  One prong hit the suspect.  The other hit Goldman.   "Since they were in contact with each other, they both took the tase," police said in the post.  It's not clear what happened to the man or Goldman after that.  State police and Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan didn't immediately respond to requests for further details.  The deputy brought the cake for Goldman out of guilt, the post said.  On Dec. 4, Goldman shared the photo of himself and the cake on his Facebook page. 



Florida Highway Patrol trooper hit by car in crash involving suspected drunken driver

FHP Trooper Cruz seriously injured

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper was seriously injured early Sunday in a crash involving a drunken driver, authorities said.  Trooper Daniel Cruz was working the scene of an earlier crash about 1 a.m. on Okeechobee Road near the Palmetto Expressway when he was hit, FHP Trooper Joe Sanchez said.  According to the arrest report, John Bencosme, 26, of Miami, was driving a blue Hyundai Velastar south on Okeechobee Road when he slammed into one of the cars from the earlier crash.  The impact sent a Hyundai Elantra spinning into Cruz, throwing him several feet into the air, the report said.  After the crash, troopers said they conducted field sobriety tests after smelling alcohol on Bencosme's breath. Troopers said Bencosme's blood alcohol level was .201 -- more than double the legal limit.  Bencosme faces multiple charges, including driving under the influence and causing serious bodily injury.  "It's the greatest fear that we face," Sanchez said.  "Our roads have gotten to the point where troopers are more scared to be hit by a car than to be shot out there while they are performing their duties."   Sanchez said Cruz was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center, where he was listed in critical but stable condition.  Troopers said Cruz seriously injured ligaments in his legs and he broke a small bone in his back.  "He is alert.  He is going to be out for about six months," Sanchez said. "He did sustain some, you know, injuries that are critical. ... But thank God he is alive."   The Palmetto Expressway southbound exit ramp to Okeechobee Road was shut down for several hours as authorities investigated the scene.