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 (Responsibility.org) 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 Responsibility.org, 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."



Ceremony remembers fallen state troopers

PSP remembers fallen state troopers

George Nowakowski of Duryea retired from the Pennsylvania State Police in 1991, but as he watched the Pennsylvania State Police Memorial Day ceremony at his old barracks, he tearfully said he wished he were back in the line of duty.  “I wish I was back,” he said, looking out over the current troop in their uniforms.  “These guys are fabulous.  They look beautiful and they do their job.”  The annual ceremony honored state troopers, specifically those from Troop P, killed in the line of duty throughout the state police’s history.  Troop P held their ceremony at its barracks on Wyoming Avenue, one of many held at state police barracks throughout the Commonwealth.  Troop P covers Wyoming, Bradford, Sullivan and northern Luzerne counties.  In addition to the fallen, the ceremony also honors active and retired members of the state police.  “It’s a very nice ceremony.  It makes me proud to be working for the Pennsylvania State Police,” said Christine Brewer, a clerk typist at the barracks.  “You don’t realize day-to-day what they go through and it’s nice that we have these to honor the current and also our retired members.”  The ceremony featured a roll call of the 10 members of Troop P who have fallen in the line of duty over the years, speakers and the laying of a wreath to commemorate the day.  The ceremony allows active and retired troopers to remember those before them who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.  For Nowakowski, coming back to recognize and remember those troopers often feels like a reunion with his old troop and fellow retired troopers.  “It’s the greatest day in the world,” Nowakowski said.  State police continue to mourn the loss of Trooper Landon Eugene Weaver, who was killed in December and honored statewide at Tuesday ceremonies. Weaver served with the state police for one year with Troop G in Bedford.  He was the 97th member of the Pennsylvania State Police killed in the line of duty in the force’s 112 year history.  “That memory is always in the back of our minds, we never really forget it,” Trooper Tom Kelly said.  “Every day we go into work, we do our job, but a day like today brings that from the back of our mind to the forefront of our mind,”  Kelly said the annual ceremony serves as a necessary reminder of the difficulties state troopers often face.  “It’s good to keep that memory alive and not let what happened be forgotten,” Kelly said.



New Jersey State Police's 2016 Trooper of the Year

NJSP 2016 Trooper of the Year

The New Jersey State Police is proud to announce that Tpr. I James Agens, of the Mobile Safe Freight Unit, is the 2016 Trooper of the Year as a result of his year-long patrol efforts, which led to the seizure of 79 kilograms of heroin and 10 kilograms of cocaine with a total estimated street value of $6.7 million.  As a result of the nationwide heroin epidemic, Colonel Rick Fuentes directed State Police command to initiate a plan to detect and dismantle the bulk amount of heroin being transported to and through New Jersey.  As part of this effort, Tpr. I Agens distinguished himself as a result of his diligent criminal patrol, bulk drug seizures, and unwavering dedication.  On May 15, 2016, Tpr. I Agens stopped a tractor-trailer in Warren County for a safety inspection.  During the stop, Tpr. I Agens detected evidence of criminal activity, which led to a search and subsequent seizure of 15 kilograms of heroin.  On August 23, 2016, Tpr. I Agens was conducting a commercial vehicle safety inspection in Warren County when he once again detected evidence of criminal activity.  As a result of his investigation, 64 kilograms of heroin and 10 kilograms of cocaine were seized.  This is the largest cold-stop heroin seizure to date in U.S. history.  Tpr. I Agens’ investigative efforts and skills are extraordinary.  His efforts have brought great pride and distinction to himself and the Division of State Police. Tpr. I Agens’ commitment and dedication exemplify the core values of the New Jersey State Police: Honor, Duty, and Fidelity.



Oberle Elementary thanks state troopers with giant heart formation

Deleware State Troopers receives thanks

Students and staff members at Oberle Elementary School in Bear gathered in the school parking lot on Monday to form a heart shape and say "thank you" to Delaware State Police troopers.  The ceremony was part of a statewide outpouring of support in honor of Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard, who was killed in the line of duty last week.  After the students arranged themselves in the shape of a heart, a teacher used a drone to photograph the formation from above.  Students later delivered video from the event and handmade cards to troopers at Troop 2.  Oberle is the second Christina School District school to pay tribute to Ballard.  Last week, 600 Keene Elementary students walked to Troop 2 to lay flowers and thank troopers.




Off-duty trooper, good Samaritan receive special Highway Patrol awards

SDHP awards

The fiery car crash in Bath back in February could've killed as many as 10 people.  That wreck could've easily turned tragic had it not been for the quick thinking of an off-duty South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper and a passing motorist.  Today, they were honored for their lifesaving, split-second decisions.  Highway Trooper Cortney Paul received the Superintendent's Award after her efforts with the car crash.  "It was me doing my job.  I was trained for this. This is who I am and this is what I do," says Trooper Paul.  The nomination goes through a special awards committee in the Highway Patrol.  "They hear all of the award nominations and then they recommend the actual award.  Then, it's approved by the superintendent of the Highway Patrol," explains Major Rick Miller with the Highway Patrol.  It's an award that is given out to troopers for their efforts, but the honor is still present.  Trooper Paul appreciates the fact that the community gets to see the two getting presented with the award to help them celebrate everyone surviving.  Good Samaritan Justin Dirksen was given the Life-Saving Award, which has the same process at Trooper's Paul.  This type of award is the highest award given to civilians.  Dirksen didn't think the award was really necessary because he thought his actions weren't anything out-of-the-ordinary.  Having the ability to chat with the six teenagers was one way to bring closure to the whole incident.  "It's good to see them progressing, moving on with their lives, becoming the young ladies that they are.  It's really fortunate to know that they'll attend graduation and move on with their lives," explains Trooper Paul.  "It's nice to finally meet them all.  It was an interesting night, so I didn't get to know all of them or even know their names at that point.  It's nice to meet them and know they're fine and that they're going to turn out okay," says Dirksen.  The teenage survivors continue to heal from wounds both seen, and unseen, and say they remain thankful for the support they've seen from everyone in the Aberdeen community.