Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lieutenant succumbs to injuries sustained while on duty
Lieutenant Heath Meyer succumbed to injuries sustained 10 days earlier when he was struck by a patrol car on I-35, near SW 27th Street, in Moore. He had deployed stop sticks on I-35 as other troopers pursued a vehicle on the interstate. Two of the patrol cars collided as they attempted to avoid the stop sticks. One of the patrol cars then struck Lieutenant Meyer. The vehicle being pursued continued to flee, however, the driver was taken into custody later in the night and charged in connection with the incident. Lieutenant Meyer was transported to the University of Oklahoma Medical Center, where he remained until succumbing to his injuries. Lieutenant Meyer had served with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol for 12 years. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
State Police vehicles get new look
On the road, the Pennsylvania State Police is going gray. Or, more precisely, “Sterling Metallic Gray,” said Ryan Tarkowski, a spokesman for the state police. Over the next three years, the black-and-white state police fleet will be gradually replaced with medium gray vehicles emblazoned with the word Trooper on the car doors in light gray, reflective letters a foot tall. A Pennsylvania flag is emblazoned on one side while the American flag is on the other side. The paint color, stock for Ford, matches the color of state trooper uniforms. “We’re looking to better define the image of the department,” Tarkowski said. The SUVs and sedans are being cycled into the fleet as the older models reach the end of their life spans which, Tarkowski said, means the color scheme is rolled out at no additional cost to the state. “The first batch went to recruiters across the state and now they’re being rolled out as needed as other vehicles age out,” he said. The gray state police vehicles are slowly appearing at each of the four stations which make up the Dunmore-based Troop R, which encompasses Lackawanna, Wayne, Susquehanna and Pike Counties, Trooper Mark Keyes, a spokesman for Troop R said. Approximately four are on the road in the troop, Capt. Chris Paris said. The state police had last changed their vehicle color scheme — to the now passé black and white — in 1991.
Highway Patrol graduates largest class in 43 years
South Dakota drivers will soon see new faces patrolling the roads. The South Dakota Highway Patrol is welcoming its largest group of new troopers in more than four decades - and the most women to ever graduate in one class - to the department this week. The 20 new troopers, who graduated Friday in Pierre, was the largest class since 1974, when 25 recruits were hired to patrol the state. The typical size the last years has been around 10 to 13. This year's class also has the largest number of women graduating at once in agency history. Five of the 20 new troopers are women. Why the increase in overall numbers and women recruits? Better, more personal marketing of law enforcement as a community service, says Col. Craig Price, superintendent of the Highway Patrol. "There are a lot of people out there who have an interest in helping their community," Price said. The Highway Patrol did do a few extra recruiting efforts to try and interest more women in the department, Price said, but said the main focus was finding "the most qualified people." Recruits went through basic law enforcement training, the South Dakota Highway Patrol Recruit Academy and field training. The entire process takes about one year. Recruits go through a 13-week basic law enforcement training with other agency recruits before moving on to highway patrol-specific training. They spend an additional five months in classroom training and another three in the field. "It's intense. These folks go through extreme training," Price said. "It's critically important for families and our (troopers) that they know what they're doing." The graduation ceremony was held Friday morning in Pierre and many of the troopers will be on duty the next day.
Hundreds pay last respects to fallen state police trooper
Hundreds of state police personnel filled Latrobe on Tuesday to pay respects to a local trooper killed in a two-vehicle crash while on duty Friday. Trooper Michael P. Stewart, 26, of Latrobe died in the crash between his police cruiser and a McInchok Sanitation truck on state Route 711 near Route 271 in Ligonier Township around 2:20 a.m. July 14. Stewart's partner, Trooper Travis November, walked into the funeral Mass at Holy Family Roman Catholic Church on crutches, bandages visible on his face. November suffered a concussion and other injuries in the accident, state police said. Stewart's funeral was also attended by police officers from at least 20 states – including California, Maine, Michigan, Colorado, Texas and New York – along with Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Col. Tyree Blocker. The church was filled to its capacity of 1,100, said Trooper Stephen Limani, public information officer. Some attendees were forced to sit outside and listen to the service through speakers. "The turnout was absolutely amazing," he said. "Our department is still reeling from Trooper Stewart's passing and we appreciate the outpouring of support from the people in the community," Limani said. "They've been nothing but spectacular." The Rev. Robert Byrnes, chaplain for the state police barracks in Greensburg, where Stewart was stationed, described meeting 14-year-old Stewart who was a participant in Camp Cadet. "If God has state troopers patrolling the highways of heaven, I'm sure you'll be one of the very best," Byrnes said. Johnstown Police Department Chief Robert Johnson, Capt. Jeff Janciga and two other Johnstown officers attended the funeral. Johnson, who was patrol section commander at the Greensburg barracks, said he knew Stewart. "He was a great guy," Johnson said. "It's a loss for the entire community." Cambria County Sheriff Bob Kolar, a retired state policeman, was at the state sheriff's conference when the news of Stewart's passing circulated. Numerous Pennsylvania sheriffs are retired from the state police, Kolar said, and described the mood at the conference as "somber," before a moment of silence was observed in Stewart's memory. "It hit home with a lot of us," Kolar said. "You don't expect things like this to happen. Anything can happen at any time." Dan Zakraysek, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Flood City Lodge No. 86, said he was shocked to hear the news of Stewart's passing. "It's just one of those freak accidents that happened," he said. Zakraysek, a former Upper Yoder Township police chief, said his thoughts are also with November, who will have to cope with the loss of his partner. "A real bond develops there between those guys," he said. Stewart's sudden death is a reminder to officers that coming home from work isn't always a guarantee, Zakraysek added. "Every day you go out, you don't think about it, but it's in the deep back of your mind that this could happen," he said. Johnson said state police and law enforcement as a whole are a community that will assist Stewart's family and friends through the loss. "It's a family like no other," he said. "The support doesn't stop after the funeral." During a press conference Friday, state police said Stewart and his patrol partner, November, were on routine patrol during the overnight shift, traveling southbound on Route 711, when the garbage truck driven by 26-year-old John Hissem made a left-hand turn out of a parking lot to head north. That's when Stewart's cruiser collided with the front end of the garbage truck, Limani said, with the majority of the impact hitting where Stewart was sitting. Westmoreland County Coroner Kenneth Bacha ruled Stewart's death as accidental and listed blunt force trauma to the head as the cause. Stewart died on scene at 3:10 a.m., according to a release from Bacha's office. The crash remains under investigation as state police try to determine what caused the crash and if anyone is at fault. Stewart enlisted in the Pennsylvania State Police in January 2014 and was a member of the 138th cadet class of graduates before being assigned to the patrol unit in Troop A, Greensburg, in August 2015. He had previously been assigned to Troop H in Chambersburg, Franklin County. Stewart is the 98th member of the Pennsylvania State Police to be killed in the line of duty and the eighth from Troop A in Greensburg.