Pennsylvania State Police introduce new tool in opioid battle

PSP ODIN

The Pennsylvania State Police have launched what officials describe as a “first of its kind” online tool for local police and troopers to submit information about overdoses. The tool will help police coordinate efforts to combat drug trafficking and it will feed information to the governor’s opioid task force so they can quickly recognize and respond if there are hot spots of dangerous drug activity, said Capt. Troy Hyman, director of the intelligence division of the state police. The Pennsylvania Overdose Information Network (ODIN), which debuted last week, is a centralized repository to track overdoses, naloxone administrations, and investigative drug information that may be used by police, public safety, and health care professionals to better track and share all types of information related to opioid abuse in their communities. Preliminary figures show 5,260 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses in 2017. In 2016, heroin and opioid drug overdoses claimed 4,642 lives in the state. “For law enforcement and criminal justice agencies, ODIN provides crucial data about overdoses, heroin seizures, locations of opioid-related incidents, and other critical information to aid in the apprehension of offenders who bring illegal drugs into our communities,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “This technology allows law enforcement to streamline real-time data sharing so actionable information does not slip through the cracks.” State police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski said that in its first week of operation, 78 agencies fed information into the system about 342 incidents. Hyman said that state police have been encouraged by the response from their counterparts in local police. There are a little more than 1,000 police departments in Pennsylvania, though, a 2014 state legislative study estimated that 72 percent of them have 10 or fewer officers. Just over half of the state’s 2,500 local municipalities lack any local police and rely on state police for protection. But under the state’s plan, if a police department is unable to enter their own information, county 911 centers have the capability to enter relevant data. There are no plans for the information obtained through the system to be directly shared with the public, Hyman said. But portions of the information will be funneled into other reports that likely would be available for the public to see, he said. Within the system, information will be segregated so that those in health policy can see data that will be useful to them. There will also be information that only police and those in law enforcement will be able to access, Hyman said. The data-sharing will be tremendous help to officials working at the state’s Opioid Operations Command Center, created to respond to Wolf’s Jan. 10 opioid emergency declaration, said Ray Barishansky, deputy secretary for planning and assessment with the Department of Health and incident commander for the Opioid Operational Command Center. While police can use the data to coordinate efforts to arrest drug-traffickers, health planners will be able to quickly discern if there are hot spots of drug activity and whether the state and local agencies have adequate amounts of naloxone in those areas or sufficient treatment options in place, he said. Naloxone is an overdose reversal drug that is now being carried by state police troopers and many other first-responders. Another component of the Wolf Administration’s drug emergency declaration allows EMS to leave naloxone with individuals who’ve suffered overdoses so they have it with them if they decline treatment and overdose again.

3/21/18

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Massachusetts State Police honor fallen trooper Thomas Clardy

MSP turnpike road and bridge dedication

Massachusetts State Police Trooper Thomas Clardy had a command of the English language, one that would show up in his arrest reports. It sometimes made his superior, Lt. Michael Smith, feel like he needed a dictionary, Smith recalled Friday, as he offered a few lines of one of Clardy's verbose reports.

"...He uttered a phrase in a voice coarsened by alcohol and the words were spoke in such savage haste, as he ran them together in an unintelligible growl that scarcely resembled human speech. The obnoxious and repulsive odor that had earlier besieged me grew in potency as its repugnant pong forced me to hold my nose in utter disgust."

A crowd of State Police troopers, Massachusetts officials and Clardy's family shared a heartfelt laugh as Smith read the lines. But more than Clardy's elaborate police reports will live on. The group was gathered at the State Police barracks in Charlton on Friday afternoon to unveil a memorial stone in the fallen trooper's memory, announcing that a bridge on the Massachusetts Turnpike and a stretch of roadway will be named in Clardy's honor. Clardy was conducting a traffic stop on March 16, 2016, on the westbound side of the Massachusetts Turnpike in Charlton when another car suddenly slammed into his cruiser. Clardy suffered serious injuries and was later pronounced dead. The 44-year-old was the father of seven children. He was an 11-year veteran of the State Police and a member of the 77th RTT (2005) assigned to Troop E. It was a bittersweet day, the two-year anniversary of Clardy's death, as State Police honored his memory. "The biggest thing that sticks out with Tom for me was his compassion, it's one of the things I learned from him," Smith said. "Whether he had somebody under arrest or they were broken down roadside or on the phone, he treated everybody with respect and compassion." On the memorial stone, Clardy is pictured with a friendly smile, something Smith said he will always remember the trooper for. "He was a big strong man, but he was a very gentle soul," Smith said. Gov. Charlie Baker said that in the weeks after Clardy's death, he heard one phrase repeatedly. "Tom Clardy was a great guy," is what everyone said, Baker recalled. "Over and over again that was the message." Baker said he hopes that as the years go by, and one day when repairs are made to the bridge and roadway, people will see the Clardy name and want to know more about who the trooper was. Reisa Clardy and her children looked on quietly as Smith shared his heartfelt memories of Clardy, and as Baker and State Police Col. Kerry Gilpin unveiled the memorial stone. "Truthfully, it's hard for me to know what else we can say to Reisa and her family," Baker said.

3/19/18

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Off-duty trooper saves man's life with a tree branch and a t-shirt

NJSP saves life with tree limb and tshirt

An off-duty New Jersey State Trooper used a tree branch and a T-shirt to save an auto accident victim's life this week. Trooper Kenneth Minnes was traveling on the Atlantic City Expressway in Gloucester Township around 2:30 p.m. on Monday when he came upon an overturned, small truck that had run off the road and struck several trees, police said. Another motorist had already stopped to assist the two occupants of the smoking vehicle and Minnes helped move them away from the truck before it was consumed in flames. When Minnes noticed the passenger, a 25-year-old man, was bleeding heavily from an arm wound, he grabbed a T-shirt and a piece of tree branch to fashion a makeshift tourniquet, he explained during an interview Friday afternoon. This stemmed the blood loss until EMTs arrived. The occupants were airlifted from the scene. Both remain at Cooper University Hospital in Camden. Minnes has been checking with hospital staff to see how they are doing. "I've been calling them every day," he said. "Both of them are in bad shape." The passenger was in stable condition as of Friday. The accident was so bad, police couldn't initially determine the make of the vehicle, State Police spokesman Lt. Ted Schafer said. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

3/14/18

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Mississippi Highway Patrol legacy passed down through generations

MHP generations in patrol

Capt. Johnny Poulos grew up watching his uncle, former DPS Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz, wearing the uniform of the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Poulos was 9 years old in 1974 when Santa Cruz graduated from Trooper school. In 1999, Poulos joined MHP as a part of Class 54, and started his career in Hattiesburg. As he continued that career, his son Justin was watching in the same way.  "I was raised around it my whole life and it's always been a calling for me," said Justin Poulos. "Growing up around it and seeing how everything operates and how my father impacted the community around him — that's something I always wanted."  On Tuesday, Justin Poulos graduated Trooper school as part of Class 62 along with 56 other cadets. It seemed to bring full-circle the photo he and his father had taken at Johnny Poulos' graduation when Justin was 7 years old, as did the photo of Justin and his son Ridge, 3, who was even wearing an MHP uniform made of one of Johnny Poulos' old uniforms. "The brass that's on that shirt is what I actually graduated with in 1999. To see those pictures side by side, it's hard to explain," Johnny said. "It's a proud moment, but it's an emotional moment to think I remember when Justin was standing by me in that picture when I graduated and it seems like it's just yesterday. Nineteen years later, he walks across that stage and gets the badge." Because it becomes a way of life in a family, there have been other families with generations of troopers, Johnny Poulos said. It's an honor to be among them. And could Ridge be the next member of the family to join the MHP one day?  "I'm following in my father's footsteps. I hope to be a father to my son like my dad's been to me, it's amazing to be able to grow up and see that," Justin said.  "I'm just hoping my son will be able to experience the same things that I am." "There's a possibility if he chooses, he might walk across that stage one day and get the badge pinned on him too," Johnny said. "If that's what's in store for Ridge down the road, hopefully I'll be around to see that." Justin Poulos attributes his graduation from the academy not only to his family, but to his classmates. When they missed being home, he said, they took comfort in the family they were becoming to each other.  "The hardest part about patrol school for me was being away from my family, and I think for all 57 cadets the hardest part was being away from family," Justin said.  "It's a culture shock, but when it's all said and done, we all pretty much came together as a family and we all got to graduate and walk across the stage. We all accomplished something together, and it's all something we'll remember the rest of our lives."  There were three women in the class, and cadets from all over the state. Capt. Poulos said the class seemed to have a character and chemistry from the beginning. "They were a unique class, you could tell they wanted to be there. They had the drive and they knew they were going to graduate," Johnny Poulos said.  "As far as the females being mothers, then going out on top of that and being a trooper, I can't tell you how much respect I have for them to be able to do that and to want to do that, so they deserve the credit." Johnny Poulos said Class 62 taught their superiors as well, especially in ways they can more effectively recruit. Having three women in the class helped them learn more about how to recruit women as well, he said. The recruits received their assignments a few weeks ago and will now start several weeks with field training officers. Justin Poulos said he, like most of his classmates, is looking forward to being on the road. Johnny Poulos said it was a strange experience to be both a trooper and a trooper's father, helping encourage Justin when he came home on the weekends and get him ready to face another week. "I'm really proud of him, and the whole family is too.  He accomplished it just like he said he would," Johnny Poulos said.  Something else Justin said to him stuck with him, too. "He said, 'This isn't about me, there are 56 other cadets who deserve just as much credit as I do if not more,'" Johnny Poulos said. 

3/12/18

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Nevada Highway Patrol troopers receive pin after mass shooting

NHP Pens

We're getting our first look at some new pins that have been issued to some Nevada Highway Patrol troopers who responded to the 1 October shooting. The pins are inscribed with Route 91. 58 people were killed and hundreds more were injured during the Route 91 Harvest Festival. 13 Action News spoke with one trooper who told us that "I'm very humbled and proud to wear it. To me it is a tribute to the 58 souls we lost as well as the hundreds of others who are forever changed at no fault of their own," said NHP Trooper Travis Smaka. 68 troopers received the pin which they can wear on their uniforms. 

3/12/18

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