South Carolina Highway Patrol names first female Captain

SCHP first female Captain

The South Carolina Highway Patrol has named its first ever female captain.  The agency announced Friday that Tara Laffin has been promoted to her new rank.  She succeeds Capt. E.J. Talbot, who recently announced his retirement after 27 years with the department.  In her new role, she'll be the commander of the highway patrol's training division.  "This is an exciting and historical day for the South Carolina Highway Patrol as we not only name the first female captain, but we have an opportunity to promote a strong and forward-thinking leader for this key unit in our agency,” said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith.  “Capt. Laffin has spent her entire career with the Highway Patrol, including four years in the Training Unit.  Capt. Talbot has done an outstanding job and we look forward to continuing this tradition of excellence in Training.”  Laffin has been with the highway patrol for 22 years.  She's most recently served as lieutenant in the Emergency Management Unit, which leads the state’s traffic response during hurricanes and other large-scale disasters.  From 2007-2011, she served in the HP Training Unit as a sergeant and corporal.  Prior to that, she served as a corporal in Lexington County. Capt. Laffin began her career with SCHP in 1994 in Dillon County and worked as a road trooper in Kershaw and Richland Counties.



New Mexico graduates two dozen new officers


The state has two dozen new State Police officers.  The department celebrated the graduation of 24 cadets Friday morning at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.  The 91st recruit class spent the last 22 weeks training, and Friday they stood up taking the oath, receiving their certificates, and finally becoming State Police officers.  “It makes it worth being a part of, you know, the tradition, pride and honor that we have is highly upheld,” said Allan Ramirez, NMSP graduate.  Earlier this year, State Police told KRQE News 13 they were about 100 officers short.



New look for Pennsylvania State Police cars

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The color and design of Pennsylvania State Police patrol cars has stayed the same for the past 26 years...but a change is underway.  Like most businesses and organizations, the State Police have undergone a re-branding strategy.  The emphasis being on the men and women who wear the State Police uniform, and the uniform itself.  The new color is sterling gray.  It's easy to notice that the cars now match the color of the state police uniform.  The new patrol cars also have the word "TROOPER" in enlarged letters along the side panels.  An internal committee, comprised of employees from throughout the agency, believes the color gray has historically been associated with the Pennsylvania State Police.  The committee also hopes that people will feel a sense of professionalism and security when they see the gray car with the word "TROOPER" arrive at an emergency scene.  The current white cars, with black and gold trim, will slowly be replaced as they hit higher mileage over the next three years.  For that reason,there's only a few gray cars on the road right now.  The first one to be  delivered to Erie County, last week, went to the Troop "E" recruiting officer.  "It's a push for public relations.   They are the eye of the State Police.  They're attending the job fairs.  They're in the public more often to get that image out quickly.  That's why they administered those to them first,"said Tpr. Cindy Owens, PSP-Erie Community Service Officer.  There was no extra cost for State Police to purchase a gray vehicle over a white one.  The new cars do have extra reflective material on them that the old vehicles do not have.  That material costs $67 dollars per car.



Man found guilty after largest Meth bust in Arkansas history

Arkansas Drug Bust

A federal jury found a California truck driver guilty Thursday after he was found with millions of dollars worth of meth during a traffic stop in Arkansas in 2015.  A federal jury found Javier Leon, 56, of Moreno Valley, Calif., guilty of Possessing With the Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine in a case that involved the largest amount of methamphetamine ever seized in Arkansas.  Law enforcement found more than 260 pounds of meth — worth millions of dollars — in the back of Leon’s tractor-trailer while he was traveling through Lonoke in 2015.  Leon will be sentenced at a later date.  “This seizure had enough methamphetamine to supply every man, woman, and child in Little Rock,” Patrick C. Harris, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, said.  “Thanks to the efforts of several law enforcement agencies and agents, this significant amount of methamphetamine will never hit the streets, and never poison our communities.  This jury verdict makes clear that whatever level of involvement you have with this drug—as a seller, user, or courier—there will be justice served and punishment delivered.”  Testimony during the trial established that the 260 pounds of methamphetamine -- which was broken into smaller, individual-size portions -- could have been enough to serve more than 300,000 people, with a potential street value of $7 to $8 million.  Leon owned his own 18-wheel tractor-trailer and drove for California furniture shipping company American West.  On March 30, 2015, while heading east on Interstate 40, Leon pulled over and parked illegally on an exit ramp in Lonoke.  Now-retired Arkansas State Police Corporal Olen Craig made contact with Leon, and the state police then searched the trailer after a drug-detection dog signaled drugs were present.  Arkansas State Police Corporal Chase Melder located the meth, which included more than 22 pounds of powder meth and more than 240 pounds of liquid meth, amongst a load of furniture destined for Alabama and the Atlanta area.  The liquid meth was contained in multiple five-gallon plastic jugs, similar to the type of jugs used with water coolers.  “Stopping drug traffickers traveling across Arkansas highways is a priority for state troopers, particularly the department’s criminal interdiction unit,” Colonel William J. Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police, said.  “This case represents a major victory in stopping illegal drugs from getting to a destination and our troopers are committed to staying in the fight.”  The DEA became involved in the case following the seizure and continued to investigate Leon. In addition to the guilty verdict, the jury found that the 18-wheel tractor-trailer is to be forfeited.  “The federal conviction of Javier Leon sends a strong message to criminals that we take methamphetamine trafficking very seriously in the Eastern District of Arkansas,” Matthew Barden, Assistant Special Agent in Charge with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said.  “The DEA will continue working with our law enforcement partners and pursue those who threaten our communities with the distribution of methamphetamine and other illegal and dangerous drugs.”  The statutory penalty for possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine is not less than 10 years’ imprisonment, not more than life, a $10,000,000 fine, or both.  The investigation was conducted by the DEA, Arkansas State Police, Little Rock Police Department, and Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office.



Drugged driving more fatal than drunk driving, report says

drug impaired crashes

For the first time, data shows that drivers killed in car crashes in the United States were more likely to be on drugs than drunk, according a new report.  The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( released a study that found 43 percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes had drugs of any kind – prescription or illegal – in their system, compared to 37 percent who showed alcohol levels above the legal limit.  The organizations say that concerns about drug-impaired driving have escalated recently, with more states legalizing marijuana and record numbers of people dying from drug overdoses amid the opioid epidemic.  "Drugged driving has increased dramatically and many of today's impaired drivers are combining two or more substances, which has a multiplicative effect on driver impairment," Ralph. S. Blackman, president and CEO of, a nonprofit funded by alcohol distillers, said in a statement.  Of drivers killed in crashes who tested positive for drugs, 36.5 percent had used marijuana, followed by amphetamines at 9.3 percent, the report found.  Researchers used the most recent U.S. state data available from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).  The report calls for increased training for law enforcement to detect drivers who are on drugs – something that is complicated, police say.  Unlike a Breathalyzer test to detect alcohol-impaired drivers, there is no standard roadside test to detect most drugs.  "As states across the country continue to struggle with drug-impaired driving, it's critical that we help them understand the current landscape and provide examples of best practices so they can craft the most effective countermeasures," said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of GHSA.  The report has several limitations, including that states vary greatly in how many and which drivers are tested, what tests are used, and how test results are reported.  Furthermore, the records only record drug presence, not drug concentrations that can be compared to blood-alcohol levels.  "Drugged driving is a complicated issue," said the report's author, Dr. Jim Hedlund, a former senior NHTSA official.  "The more we can synthesize the latest research and share what's going on around the country to address drug-impaired driving, the better positioned states will be to prevent it."