South Carolina Highway Patrol Using Emojis to Curb...
South Carolina Highway Patrol Sgt. Bob Beres speaks in a language perhaps best understood by young people but nonetheless universal. His mom is Hungarian, and she speaks little English but she can understand. Spanish speakers can pick it up, so can foreign tourists and people who can't even read, Beres said. About 130 billboards inspired by Beres' language of choice have popped up across the state. He speaks fluent emoji. Those are the little graphic icons used in text messages and on social media. Think a cartoony thumbs-up and various smiley faces. The billboards show emojis representing an alcoholic drink, the plus sign and a car with an equal sign leading to a police car. The message is drinking and driving equals arrest. "It makes you stop and think about the message, which makes you remember it," said Cpl. Bill Rhyne, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol in Greenville. The emoji-based ad campaign will be spreading to iceboxes outside of convenience stores and gas pump handles this summer and will be on high school sports tickets starting with football games in August. There's not a whole lot new about the campaign, or even emojis, but it should prove effective, said Tharon Howard, a Clemson University professor who is director of the master's degree program in professional communications and whose research includes digital publishing. Howard said he was involved in a multimillion-dollar campaign with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in the 1990s using the same basic technology, called emoticons at the time. Graphic symbols supplementing the written word have a long heritage and have been called emoticons, Wingdings, dingbats and printer's ornaments, and way before that, cave paintings. Howard said he saw one of the Highway Patrol's billboards recently and it stuck with him. "I looked at it and tried to figure out the equation," he said. What makes the emojis stick is that they are little puzzles, Howard said. "People pause and try to figure out what they are saying, they decode the emojis and that's fun." It's a form of gamification, the idea that people will want to learn more and naturally retain more when something like advertising borrows the emotional payoffs people get from playing games, Howard said. "It's that impulse to solve problems and play games that really helps emojis reach across cultures," he said. Beres' Twitter posts regularly have detailed puzzles with dozens of emojis. Beres goes all in on the emojis, said Rhyne. "I can send a few emojis here and there," Rhyne said, "but not like the entire sentences using nothing but emojis that Bob can do with his creativity. At the end of the day, we all want to save lives. I don't care how we do it, whether it's through emojis, Facebook, Twitter or talking to people. This is just one of those things that makes you stop and think." As recently as nine months ago Beres had never used an emoji and now he is sought after by national advertising executives for his emoji skills. His first emojis were sent from his Twitter account (@TrooperBob_SCHP) shortly after the state's historic flooding in October, when Beres and other public safety officials were trying to make sure their messages got out. Beres said he found his emojis warning people about the flooding were being shared, and reaching more people, than pictures of trucks falling into sinkholes and getting far more traction than words alone. As he got deeper and deeper into emojis, the calls started pouring in from TV news stations from Connecticut and throughout the country. His emojis have been shared by tens of thousands of people and he was part of an emoji-based advertising campaign featuring State Farm's "Jake" spokesman. Beres said the emojis aren't going anywhere, he still gets hundreds of people interacting with him because he is speaking their language. "We want zero fatalities in South Carolina," Beres said. "Emojis have became a big hit and we didn't expect it." A new batch of 72 emojis was recently announced and should be available for use in the fall, featuring an avocado and icons for "rolling on the floor laughing" as well as clowns, whiskey glasses and stop signs. It'll give puzzlemaster Beres a few new pieces to put together.
Hundreds of Missouri Students say Thank you to the Missouri State Highway Patrol
More than 400 students from the Iberia School District descended upon Missouri State Highway Patrol's (MSHP) Troop I headquarters earlier this month to say thank you to dozens of troopers from across the state. "We got a call from the school district and they said that the students wanted to thank us for our service," said Public Information Officer, Sgt. Cody Fulkerson, of Troop I. The field trip was part of Iberia's summer school program. Kids from pre-K to seventh grade participated along with 30 school staff membes. Thanks to some quick thinking from state troopers from around the state, the visit turned into not only a tour of Troop I's headquarters, but also a look at a number of activities and unique assignments that the highway patrol handles. "We had our canine unit here from Willow Springs, our helicopter unit flew in from Springfield and our local dive team was here," Fulkerson explained. Troop I serves six counties in South Central Missouri. They have 67 uniformed officers. "The kids really enjoyed stepping into the helicopter and checking out our scuba gear and of course enjoyed Trooper Mike Greenan and his dog Dake. The students didn't get back on their buses until they had a good old-fashion lunch of hot dogs, chips and sodas courtesy of some generous donations by local businesses. While the visit was certainly a great experience for the Iberia students, it was an equally touching moment for the state troopers. "This was the first time that we've ever had this large of a group come to our headquarter buildings. It made all of the troopers feel extremely humbled and blessed," Fulkerson said. "We were absolutely amazed at the thoughtfulness and the kindness of all of the students." In fact, Fulkerson said that before they students got back on their buses, a seventh grader asked if he could pray for the safety of the officers. "We were blown away," he noted. "All of the students created a circle around us troopers and held hands while this seventh grader prayed over us." Fulkerson added that in a day and age when so much negativity makes headline news, it was a real inspiration to see these students take their time to show their respect. He concluded," We are all so thankful from the bottom of our hearts."
Rhode Island State Police recruits hit the boxing ring for training
In a garage on the campus of Rhode Island State Police headquarters in Scituate, the latest round of a long-running rite of passage is wrapping up. Recruits in the training academy put on headgear, wear mouthpieces, and wrap tape around boxing gloves before stepping through the ropes of a boxing ring.Rhode Island State Police argue the boxing program for recruits going through their training academy is as intense as any in the country for police. "I'd say it's pretty unique," Lt. Col. Kevin Barry told NBC 10 News. Boxing trainer Pete Grundy said, "We do like 10 full contact sessions. And nobody does that." Barry said recruits have been hurt, have been knocked out. "There have been recruits who've come to this phase of training and have decided it's not for them based on the fact that they got hit and that their reaction wasn't what would actually be able to save their life," Barry said. But he also said safety comes first. "They're well prepared for this," Barry said. "We don't just throw them in there." For more than 25 years, recruits coming through the academy have been under the boxing tutelage of Grundy, a long-time trainer who is quick with his hands and his instruction. "Be first. Nice. Move. Good. Move. Move. Good. Get out of there, Miguel. Beautiful," Grundy barked while moving around the ring as two recruits boxed. "Downstairs. Upstairs. To the body. Combinations," Grundy said while showing the moves recruits have learned. "There's nothing worse than throwing too many punches. Now you got no gas in the tank. What's going to happen if you're on the road and there's no gas in your tank? Now you're in trouble. What are they going to do? Get your gun? Kill you? Kill your partner? Kill the person on the scene?" The idea, they said, isn't as much about being able to throw a punch as it is being able to take one. "Being able to protect themselves is the key component here," Barry said. State Police leaders wouldn't let NBC 10 interview the recruits about taking punches. But the brass went through it when they were recruits, too, and pointed out a lot of recruits these days have probably never been in a fight before they enroll in the academy. "We want to see how they're going to react once they actually do get hit," Barry said. "Our fear is that we put somebody out on the street and that's the first time they've actually been in a physical confrontation." Addressing a question about liability concerns, Barry said, "Any time there's training like this, there's liability that goes with anything we do in law enforcement. I'm a firm believer in that that liability is mitigated by this training." He argued troopers will be better equipped to diffuse or deal with a fight when there is one, keeping their cool and keeping them from getting hurt. "As much as it is physical, it is mental," Barry said of the boxing. The current class of recruits is expected to graduate from the academy at the end of July. About half of the recruits who started the program have dropped out.
Michigan State Police Bomb Squad Remove an Old Artillery Round From a House
A woman found an artillery round while cleaning out her father's house in Traverse City, according to Traverse City Police. The artillery round is believed to be from the WWII era. The bomb was found in the 500 block of W. Ninth Street. According to the Traverse City Police Department, when they arrived on scene, officers could not determine if the 75 mm M48 artillery round was live or not. Police contacted Sgt. McNally, who is part of the Army EOD division at Camp Grayling, to help with the incident. Sgt. McNally responded to the scene and determined that the artillery round was not live. He was able to move it to the garage floor where it could be kept safely until it was picked up by the Michigan State Police Bomb Squad. Traverse City police contacted the Michigan State Police sent Sgt. Collard from the Bomb Squad to remove the artillery round. Sgt. Collard arrived around 10:30 a.m. Monday to remove and discard the artillery round. He says it was found filled with cigarette butts, and it appeared it had been used as an ashtray.