Tennessee Highway Patrol launches distracted driving campaign

THP Distracted Driving

Shelby County Sheriff's Office deputy Sgt. Vernon Greer weaved through traffic on Germantown Parkway and pulled over a gray SUV Monday morning.  The driver was attempting to make a phone call when Greer pulled over the vehicle.  "The call itself is not against the law, it is the fact that the driver was not devoting full attention to the road," Greer said.  "The driver was issued a citation for failing to devote full attention to the road."  Local police joined the Tennessee Highway Safety Office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol in Memphis Monday for the launch of the statewide distracted driving campaign.  For the first time, the Highway Patrol brought in its distracted driving enforcement bus to crack down on distracted drivers on roadways, said Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Chris Richardson.  "If they don't pay attention to a big old bus that says State Trooper on it, you know they are not paying attention to the roadway and the other motorists out there," Richardson said.  "Anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or mind off driving is a distraction.  Whether it's using that cell phone, or people doing their hair and makeup and even reading the newspaper.  We have seen all of that."  Police issued a total of 22 tickets, including eight for texting in about 45 minutes Monday on roadways including Interstate 40, Germantown Parkway and Stage roads.  Drivers face a $50 fine for distracted driving and, if the offense reoccurs, possible suspension of the drivers’ license, Richardson said.  The statewide crackdown is part of the month long National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and also the state Safety Office's third annual "Thumbs Down to Texting and Driving" campaign.  According to the NHTSA, nearly 3,500 people were killed and about 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015, the latest figures available.  Paul Atchley, a psychology professor at the University of Kansas, who has done research on distracted drivers for the last 15 years, said distracted driving is a major factor on roadways.  "All the research we have available says that someone using a phone while driving is equivalent to or maybe worse than a drunk driver, Atchley said.  "There have been multiple studies that have looked at this.  We have been doing research on phones in cars for 50 years.  This is not a new research area.  But when you compare a drunk driver to a distracted driver scenario, the drunk driver actually drives better."  Atchley added that education and awareness campaigns need to be coupled with legislation and enforcement to make an impact on the issue.  "The roads have been increasingly riskier over the last 10 years and distracted driving is one of the biggest causes," Atchley said.

4/12/17

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Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper killed in crash

Wisconsin Fallen Trooper

The Wisconsin State Patrol trooper killed early Tuesday morning when he lost control of his patrol car and crashed on I-90/94 near Wisconsin Dells has been identified as Anthony J. Borostowski of Tomah.  The crash happened at about 4:30 a.m. on the eastbound side of the highway near marker 89, the Sauk County Sheriff's Office said.  Borostowski was on duty at the time of the crash, but it wasn't known if he was in pursuit of a vehicle.  The Sheriff's Office was asked by the State Patrol to conduct the investigation.  The preliminary investigation showed the trooper lost control of his patrol car, with the car going off the road and into the roadside ditch, hitting a tree.  The trooper was pronounced dead at the scene.  Gov. Scott Walker issued a statement after learning of Borostowski's death.  "Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the loss of Anthony Borostowski, who passed away early this morning in the line of duty," Walker said.  "I had the honor of meeting him in 2015, when he received the Wisconsin State Patrol's lifesaving award for saving a man's life by performing CPR," Walker said.

4/12/17

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State Police land ex-UM football player

MSP Cam Gordon

Cam Gordon had just been cut by the Kansas City Chiefs and was “team hopping” in the National Football League when he found his second calling.  The former University of Michigan and New England Patriots linebacker is enlisting with the Michigan State Police.  “I came to the realization that I just wasn’t performing the way that I once was,” said Gordon, 25, a Detroit native and Inkster High School graduate whose bruising football career included three stress fractures in his back, a knee injury and multiple concussions.  “So I said, ‘What is another career that will allow me to have an impact, have influence on younger kids and also leave behind a positive legacy?’  Instantly, state trooper — law enforcement — jumped into my mind.”  State police last week extended a conditional job offer to Gordon that would make him an official member of the next trooper recruiting school.  Gordon fills multiple needs for his new team, which is seeking young talent as hundreds of state police become eligible to retire in the next three years.  As an African-American, he also complements the department’s efforts to boost diversity in what remains a predominately white police force.  “I’ve heard it’s tough,” said Gordon, who signed with the Patriots in 2014 as an undrafted free agent.  “I don’t want to go in there thinking, ‘Oh, man, I played pro.  This is going to be easy.’  I don’t want to take it lightly.”  Gordon, whose older brother works for the Detroit Police Department, said he always has looked up to law enforcement officers and wants to help improve any negative perceptions that may exist.  “I feel like I can be the difference and have a positive impact,” he said.

4/11/17

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Wisconsin State Patrol welcomes 41 new troopers

Wisconsin graduation April 2017

After more than six months of intense training, 41 Wisconsin State Patrol officers were sworn in Friday at a graduation ceremony in La Crosse.  Joshua Helmer of Fond du Lac was among the officers and will serve as a trooper in the Northeast Region and Fond du Lac County.  The new officers began their training as cadets in the 62nd Recruit Class at the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy at Fort McCoy on Oct. 2, 2016.  Their comprehensive training has prepared them for law enforcement careers as either State Patrol troopers or inspectors in the state.  Troopers patrol highways to enforce traffic safety and criminal laws while inspectors focus primarily on enforcement of motor carrier safety laws and regulations.  “Throughout their rigorous training, our newest officers displayed the mental, physical, and emotional strength needed for the State Patrol’s traffic and public safety missions,” said Capt. Paul Matl, commander of the State Patrol Academy, in a recent press release.  “They successfully completed training in an array of subjects including traffic and criminal law, firearms marksmanship, emergency vehicle operations, crisis management and traffic crash investigations.  They will continue their training and education throughout their careers.”

4/11/17

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Wisconsin State Patrol welcomes 41 new troopers

Wisconsin graduation April 2017

After more than six months of intense training, 41 Wisconsin State Patrol officers were sworn in Friday at a graduation ceremony in La Crosse.  Joshua Helmer of Fond du Lac was among the officers and will serve as a trooper in the Northeast Region and Fond du Lac County.  The new officers began their training as cadets in the 62nd Recruit Class at the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy at Fort McCoy on Oct. 2, 2016.  Their comprehensive training has prepared them for law enforcement careers as either State Patrol troopers or inspectors in the state.  Troopers patrol highways to enforce traffic safety and criminal laws while inspectors focus primarily on enforcement of motor carrier safety laws and regulations.  “Throughout their rigorous training, our newest officers displayed the mental, physical, and emotional strength needed for the State Patrol’s traffic and public safety missions,” said Capt. Paul Matl, commander of the State Patrol Academy, in a recent press release.  “They successfully completed training in an array of subjects including traffic and criminal law, firearms marksmanship, emergency vehicle operations, crisis management and traffic crash investigations.  They will continue their training and education throughout their careers.”

4/11/17

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