Pennsylvania State Police receive new technology to help track crime trends
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.
Tennessee Highway Patrol arrests drug trafficker and rescues four children
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.
Section of I-90 named for Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper killed in the line of duty
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.
Routine Traffic Stop by Connecticut State Police Leads to Heroin Bust
State police conducting routine motor vehicle enforcement Friday night on I-84 arrested three men on heroin possession charges after finding more than 170 bags of the drug in their vehicle. The incident started at about 9:15 p.m. when troopers noticed a car with equipment violations as it traveled on I-84 near Tolland. They followed the car off the highway and stopped it on Rte. 74 in Willington. As troopers were talking to the occupants, they admitted they had drugs in the vehicle. Police found a total of 170 bags of heroin in the car. The driver, David McKnight, 53, of the Danielson section of Killingly, was charged with possession of heroin with intent to sell and a brake light violation. He was held overnight on a $75,000 cash bond and will be arraigned in Superior Court in Rockville on Monday. Anthony Falzone, 24, of Norwich, was charged with possession of heroin, as was Ryan LaFountain, 27, of Danielson. Both of them were released after posting $10,000 bonds. They are scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Rockville on Jan. 24.