North Dakota Highway Patrol Honor Guard serves special purpose for troopers, families

ND Honor Guard

A lot of workplaces have different ways to honor their members, but North Dakota Highway Patrol is raising the bar by recognizing fellow troopers and state law enforcement. Highway Patrol recently started its own Honor Guard to celebrate the lives of those in their department and members of other law enforcement agencies. This dedicated group of 16 troopers has a special purpose. Posting the colors is just one of the routines Highway Patrol Honor Guard members do. Since 2013 troopers have learned this and much more. "They first learn how to march and how to get in formation, and then they grow into how to do a flag fold over a casket, how to do a firing volley at a funeral," says Lt. Daniel Haugen, Highway Patrol Honor Guard Commander. After attending the training camp in Minnesota, the group of 16 troopers perform at celebrations of troopers' lives, retirement parties and various state functions. The training leads to a rewarding experience. "It means a lot to the individuals that belong to this group. We are given special uniforms that look really good, and it means a lot to us when we see the look on the families faces," says Haugen. Haugen says Honor Guard uniforms are modeled off their old uniforms and a military formal dress uniform. Besides the special detailing, members wear a badge recognizing their position in the Honor Guard. A position which requires great sacrifice. "We have a really dedicated team of troopers on the Honor Guard that drop what they are doing, and with two days notice, will travel somewhere in the state of North Dakota and help a family get through a funeral," says Haugen. The department is one of several agencies in the state who have their own Honor Guard. Honor Guard members have a wide range of experience within the department. Haugen says some members have close to 20 years with Highway Patrol.

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Michigan State Police get 50 black patrol cars to mark 100th Anniversary

MSP New Cruisers 100th AnniversaryMSP 1937 Ford Model

The Michigan State Police fleet is getting 50 special edition black and gold patrol cars as part of efforts to mark the department’s 100th anniversary.  The agency says the 2016 Dodge Chargers hitting the road starting Wednesday are painted to resemble the department’s 1937 Ford Model 74 patrol car.  The Model 74 was one of the department’s first patrol cars.  State police say they used black and gold cars until 1954, when they were changed to the current blue color.  Each of the state police’s 30 posts will get at least one 100th anniversary patrol car for use on general patrol and at community events.  The agency says the patrol cars were purchased as part of the department’s annual fleet replacement, so no additional expenditures were made.

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Pennsylvania State Police receive new technology to help track crime trends

PSP new technology

State police say a $7 million technology upgrade that's being phased in will allow troopers to get a better handle on where crime is more likely to happen based on crime reporting trends.  The upgraded computer system, which is expected to be fully functional next year, will help troopers perform their jobs more effectively, officials said.  It also will help provide a level of safety by allowing troopers to receive better information, such as photographs, about suspects and individuals they detain.  “It will increase efficiency and enhance trooper safety,” said Cpl. Joe Koval, president of the State Troopers Association in Harrisburg.  The modernization happens at a time when concerns about police safety have intensified.  There have been several deadly attacks against officers, including in Pennsylvania, amid mounting tensions nationwide over high-profile killings by police.  While the technology upgrade will help improve safety for troopers in their dealings with the public, there are other benefits for the agency and officers.  Troopers will get information about where crime will likely happen based on up-to-date crime reporting trends.  Managers can then adjust assignments.  The system will allow troopers to more rapidly get information and do their jobs, state police Capt. Sean Georgia said.  A “problem-specific policing” database — which analyzes how and where crimes are happening — is a part of the system, he said.  The new records management system is already installed for noncriminal data, but the criminal data portion is being rolled out in phases.  The records management system will track all contact between troopers and individuals — even in cases where there isn't an arrest.  The system received a pilot test months ago by 115 troopers in five stations in the Hazleton area.  Capt. David T. Dougalas said the “modernization was well received” and the troopers made suggestions to improve it.  The new system will allow troopers for the first time to file incident reports from their patrol cars without having to go to state police offices.  It will improve safety because photos of suspects can be rapidly sent to troopers for their protection, Koval said.  “It will help to keep our men and women on the road longer,” he said.  Georgia said troopers will get four weeks of hands-on training.  At the Kiski Valley station, Sgt. Ryan Maher said the new records system will eliminate many paper reports.  “It will save money and time,” he said.  The new system will replace the state police's first electronic records system, which was put into statewide use in 2005.  Police say it was the start of a computer-based system to identify crime trends and where drunken-driving accidents and deaths occurred more frequently.  That current system replaced troopers putting colored pins on maps.  A cluster of pins of the same color showed a trend such as burglaries in one neighborhood, said Capt. Thomas E. Dubovi, who worked with both methods when he was assigned at the Kittanning state police station.  He now supervises the investigative records system.  “The system will allow us to be data driven rather than paper driven” and record all contacts with PSP, he said.  Georgia said the state is separately upgrading its radio system to more easily access other law enforcement radios.  That upgrade will make it easier for troopers to contact municipal, county and state police officers who are on different radio systems instead of using cellphones.

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Tennessee Highway Patrol arrests drug trafficker and rescues four children

Tennessee Highway Patrol graphic

On Thursday, January 5th, 2017, the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s (THP) Interdiction Plus Team (IPT) arrested William A. Holley, 31, of Fort Wayne, Indiana for drug trafficking.  At the time of the traffic stop four children ranging from ages 5 to 10 years of age were in the vehicle.  THP Lieutenant Wayne Dunkleman observed a 2016 Toyota Sienna minivan traveling South on I-65 in Maury County following too close to another vehicle.  Lieutenant Dunkleman stopped the vehicle which was a rental vehicle on I-65 at mile marker 37.  As LT. Dunkleman made contact with Holley who was the driver, LT. Dunkleman was advised by Holley that he and his four children were traveling from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  As Lt. Dunkleman interviewed Holley he noticed that Holley was extremely nervous and was giving off other possible indicators of criminal activity.  During the roadside interview, Troopers Jeremy Miller and Richard Campbell arrived to assist.  Holley advised the troopers that he was currently on probation in Indiana for possession of marijuana.  Lieutenant Dunkleman requested a K9 sweep of the vehicle by Trooper Miller and his K9 partner Dolche.  This resulted in a positive drug alert to the vehicle.  At this same time ,Trooper Campbell checked with THP dispatch and found Holley to be suspended.  As the troopers interviewed Holley he stated that his coat may have a marijuana smell.  A probable cause search was conducted on the vehicle and four pounds of high grade marijuana was located in the cargo area in a black duffle bag.  Lieutenant Dunkleman arrested Holley without incident and transported him to the Maury County Sheriff’s Office where he was charged with manufacturing for resale a schedule six drug.  The Department of Children’s Services responded to the Maury County Jail and took custody of the children until relatives could arrive from out of state.  Additionally, the Springhill Police Department assisted with providing child restraint seats that allowed for safe transportation of the children.

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Section of I-90 named for Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper killed in the line of duty

Trooper Velez OHP

A section of Interstate 90 will bear the name of a Lorain County law enforcement officer who was killed in the line of duty.  The stretch of I-90 from Warren Road to Hilliard Road in Cuyahoga County will be named after Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper Kenneth “Kenny V.” Velez, 48.  The Lorain native died from injuries he sustained in a traffic crash on Sept. 15, 2016.  The roadway will be known as the “Trooper Kenny Velez Memorial Highway.”  The tribute was tucked in among 28 bills that Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law on Jan. 4.  Velez was not mentioned by name in the news announcement that Kasich’s office published that about the numerous bills.  Kasich used the social media website Twitter to pay tribute to Velez and to state Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorain, a cousin of Velez and sponsor of the bill to honor the fallen trooper.  Ramos also used Twitter to respond to the governor’s action “to honor Lorain Co & Ohio’s hero, Trooper Kenny Velez.”  “I didn’t do that because he was my cousin, I did that because he was my constituent,” Ramos said on Jan. 7.  “It meant a lot to me.”  Last year, Ramos recalled the number of people who came out for Velez’ funeral as the most people he ever saw gathered in once place in Lorain County at one time.  “It was powerful,” Ramos said.  “He knew everybody and everybody knew him.  Everybody liked him.”  Ramos explained how the legislation came about and the legislative procedure in Columbus.  After the death of Velez, Ramos said he consulted Velez’ children about a roadside tribute to their father. They approved and he introduced legislation in 2016.  The bill for Velez had committee approval in the House, Ramos said.  He added that Patrol Superintendent Col. Paul A. Pride was a Patrol Academy classmate of Velez and Pride testified in favor of the name change.  However, the bill was on hold during campaign season and the year-end rush of the statehouse, so the tribute to Velez was folded into a Senate Bill for quicker approval.  Once that happened, it landed among the bills Kasich signed last week, Ramos said.  The governor and lawmakers sometimes will have signing ceremonies for people to attend in Columbus, but Velez’ family could not attend last week’s gubernatorial signing on short notice, Ramos said.  Another ceremonial signing and meeting between Kasich and Velez’ family may yet take place, depending on everyone’s schedules, Ramos said.  

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