Florida Highway Patrol revives 'Arrive Alive' campaign but with a new twist

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The Florida Highway Patrol-- along with local sheriffs and police chiefs-- is dusting off a decades-old 'Arrive Alive' program, but with a new twist. Data.  Analysts are combing through mountains of crash data in an effort to isolate areas in each county where there has been an uptick in fatal car crashes or serious injuries.  FHP Director, Colonel Gene Spaulding, says this doesn't just mean dusting off old signs.  “We’re identifying hot spots-- three to five hot spots in every county.  Where the biggest increase, the biggest number of fatal and serious bodily injury cases are occurring.  And believe it or not, you’d be amazed at how it overlays with the crime in the area too.  You look at the local crime data.  So disability, presence, awareness, education, and enforcement, if need be, is the key to this program,” says Colonel Spaulding.  The FHP director says one reason crime data mirrors crash data is because criminal elements include speeding, impaired driving, and driving recklessly.

2/15/17

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Dodge is giving its new police cruiser some very RoboCop upgrades

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The kinda dinky-looking 2017 Dodge Charger Pursuit is about to get a futuristic upgrade—if you think the dystopian vision of Detroit from 1986 cyberpunk thriller RoboCop is what our future will look like, that is.  Fiat Chrysler just announced a new feature for its police cruiser called the “Officer Protection Package.”  The free upgrade is “designed to prevent an officer from being ambushed from the rear while parked,” Jeff Komer, the company’s VP of sales in the United States, said in a press release.  By taking advantage of the car’s self-parking sensors, the Charger Pursuit will soon be able to detect if someone is approaching the police car from behind.  When it does, the cruiser’s doors will automatically lock, the siren will go bloop, the rear lights will flash, and the rear camera will show the officer what’s happening behind the car.  It almost feels like our police cars will soon be shouting, “your move, creep,” like the eponymous robotic cop.  The new feature does come at a time when police ambushes are happening at an alarming rate.  The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fundreported in November that ambush killings of officers is at a 10-year high.  This grim news came not long after a San Antonio officer was shot and killed after a man pulled up behind the cruiser, approached the window, and shot the officer while he was writing a traffic ticket.  That same day in St. Louis, another man pulled up next to a police sergeant and shot the unsuspecting officer in the face.  As odd as it sounds, it’s clear that some simple tweaks to existing technology could save the lives of policemen and women.  The new Fiat upgrade just plugs into the Charger Pursuit OBDII port and offers law enforcement a new line of defense against bad guys. And at the end of the day, cops need all the help they can get in the line of duty.

2/15/17

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Troopers rescue injured pelican from Skyway Bridge

FHP Pelican

Florida Highway Patrol troopers rescued an injured pelican from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Friday.  According to troopers, they found the pelican at the foot of the Skyway Bridge showing signs of distress.  It turned out that the pelican was caught in fishing line and had fishing hooks impaled in its legs.  Troopers say the injured bird was trying to cross the interstate and posed a danger to itself and motorists.  That's when Corporal Timothy Sleyzak and Trooper Raymond Ada called in Fish and Wildlife Lieutenant Evan Ladkowski to help rescue the bird.   Lucky for the pelican, later nicknamed Sunshine, these law enforcement officials were able to get him off the road and out of harm's way.  Sunshine was then transferred to Owl's Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife where he is expected to make a full recovery.

2/14/17

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Tennessee Highway Patrol exploring body cameras

THP Body Camera

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is exploring equipping its troopers with body cameras, a move that would make it the first statewide law enforcement agency to do so.  The idea is included a document called a "Request For Information," something public agencies file when they are interested in receiving information about a possible purchase.  The document also asks for more information about new "pursuit vehicle video" equipment, the cameras included in cars that record incidents on the road.  Lt. Bill Miller, a spokesman for the THP, said the move was not an indication of a policy shift but rather a search for more cost-effective in-vehicle equipment.  "Our current system requires video to be downloaded and stored in a hard drive. The newer camera systems allow for cloud storage and many do come with body cameras.  We are exploring camera systems based on their cost efficiency to operate," Miller said.  However, the RFI itself indicates a broader purpose in pursuing the cameras.  "Body cameras are necessary for Trooper protection as well as accurate and complete documentation," the document states.  The RFI is no guarantee the THP will move forward with purchasing body cameras.  The document states the agency will conduct demonstrations on some equipment in April.  In theory, the agency would still need to solicit bids for any body camera contract before it would equip troopers with the devices.  Outcry in recent years over the deaths of people — most often young black men — at the hands of police officers around the country has spurred an ongoing national debate about whether body cameras should be necessary for all law enforcement. Supporters say the cameras provide more accountability and protection for law enforcement, offering evidence to show exactly what happens.  Opponents say there are privacy and financial concerns with cameras, opening the door to new expenses and questions of information that should or can be released.  In Tennessee, only a few agencies are using the cameras.  A Tennessean review in November 2015 found the Knox County Sheriff's Office and police departments in Gallatin, Millersville and Memphis among the entities using or testing the cameras.  The Franklin Police Department has discussed using the cameras but officers are not yet equipped.  Most notably, Memphis police have the cameras but the roll-out of the program has been marred by controversy.  According to The Commercial Appeal, there have been allegations a representative from the company that makes the cameras bribed a city official, that the equipping of the cameras has gone slowly and the department's policies on how and when to use the cameras don't stack up with national standards.  Officers at every precinct were slated to be equipped with the cameras by November.  Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has promised to include funding for body cameras when she releases her proposed budget later this spring.  During a December forum, Nashville District Attorney Glen Funk cautioned the cameras are not a cure-all.  "As a trial lawyer, as a prosecutor, I'm all in favor of having additional evidence in cases," he said.  "But we've got to be careful about rushing headlong into this thinking it's going to cure all ills, even an ill that hasn't happened in Nashville and I pray never happens in Nashville."  In past years, Democrat state lawmakers have proposed bills that would require all law enforcement agencies to wear the cameras. Those bills have never gained much traction in the Tennessee General Assembly, and no similar bill had been filed as of Monday morning.

2/14/17

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90 Mph wind gust tips truck onto Wyoming Highway Patrol Car

 

A dramatic moment was caught on camera as an 18-wheel tractor-trailer was seen tipping over onto a Wyoming Highway Patrol vehicle.  The video shows the truck driving in the right lane on a highway being blown over by what was recorded as a 90 mph gust of wind.  No one was in the police vehicle at the time, and no one was hurt in the incident.  The truck driver was issued a citation, police said.

2/14/17

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