Illinois State Police promote first African-American woman to rank of Colonel

First black Colonel for Illinois State Police

When JoAnn Johnson joined the Illinois State Police 27 years ago, she didn’t set out to be the first African-American woman to reach the rank of colonel.  The Springfield resident was drawn to law enforcement by her father, who worked as a Chicago police officer.  They would watch police-themed TV shows like “Hill Street Blues” as she was growing up, and her father would let her know which parts were realistic and which parts were fantasy.  By the time Johnson enrolled at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, she knew she wanted to be a police officer so she could help people and investigate crime.  She was the only black woman in her academy class, but that didn’t deter her from completing the course.  “I took pride in doing a good job,” Johnson said.  “I’ve always set out to do 110 percent at everything I’ve done.  My father taught me that.  In doing that, I feel like my hard work has been rewarded along the way.”  Johnson, 48, was promoted to the rank of colonel on Nov. 1.  She works at ISP headquarters in downtown Springfield and is in charge of the division of internal investigation. The division investigates allegations against both sworn and civilian members of the state police, as well as employees at some other state agencies such as the Departments of Corrections and Transportation.  Johnson is one of four colonels in the state police, and there are only two people above her in the chain of command: First Deputy Director Chad Peterson and Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz.  Johnson’s done a lot of diverse jobs with the agency since she started on the midnight shift in Elgin as a patrol officer.  She worked in criminal investigations and also served as an undercover narcotics officer in a joint-jurisdictional drug task force in the early 1990s.  “I didn’t have any children at the time, which made it easier,” Johnson said of her undercover work.  “There were a lot of late nights working undercover, a lot of talking and some scary events.  I did learn a lot.”  In 2010, Johnson moved to Springfield to teach at the Illinois State Police Academy.  Three years later, she was promoted to lieutenant colonel and moved to the internal investigation division.  Investigating fellow employees isn’t easy, she acknowledged, but it’s important work.  “(People working in internal investigations) understand the sensitivity of potentially investigating one of your own.  We go to great lengths to work the cases thoroughly because we realize we may be proving that our officers did not engage in any misconduct.  We are finders of fact.  We leave no stone unturned, and the evidence falls where it falls,” Johnson said.  While Johnson has been able to climb the ladder at ISP, women are still a decided minority in the department.  There are about 1,500 men who are sworn officers compared to about 167 women.  Of those 167 women, 22 are African-American, Johnson said.  Johnson noted that the state police are trying to recruit more women and more minorities.  “State police are very active in recruiting in minority neighborhoods,” she said.  “We want to build those numbers up.  We want to get our female officers out at recruiting events, schools and other events in the community so people can see that I can do that, too.” While the work of a state trooper can be physically demanding, Johnson said women are very capable of learning the defense tactics that are needed to keep them safe.  She added that women are often able to avoid physical confrontations through communication skills.  “I’m trained and know how to defend myself against a 6-foot-2 inch, 200-pound man or woman, but I really don’t want to do that -- especially on a little strip of real estate called the shoulder of the highway,” Johnson said.  “We have learned to use our voices and our communicative skills and tactics to help us accomplish what we need to accomplish without having to go to fisticuffs or having to use hands-on.”  Johnson, who married Richard Johnson in 2013, has two daughters, ages 9 and 11.  Despite her demanding routine, she’s found a way to balance home life and work life.  “I’m a soccer mom and a softball mom.  I do all of the things moms do, and I am there for my family, yet I can still do this job.  I think women need to see that you can do all of this,” Johnson said.

Idaho State Troopers Honored for Saving Women's Life

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On July 27th two Idaho State Troopers were instrumental in helping to save a 35 year old woman’s life.  She had pulled over to the side of the road on the interstate and was having difficulty breathing. Thursday, they were honored for their efforts.  “You know that was probably the most emotional day I had as a trooper, you know running code to this call, I was probably about I think 7 miles away and on my way down there,” said Trooper Steve McClain.  “I remember yelling out in my patrol car, ‘woman stay alive!’  I didn't know who she was, I just yelled out lady just stay alive.”  The troopers were told to meet in the conference room today for a meeting where they were surprised by their family, friends and co-workers.  “I thought I was coming in for a meeting and next thing I know it,” said Michael Hausauer. “Saying let's go into the conference room and here we are rounding the corner and my wife is there.  To my surprise I’m like wait what is she doing here.  Put one and one together and figured out fairly quickly what I thought was going to be happening.”  “I was told I was to be here around 10 o' clock for a safety presentation on winter driving to help get the public aware of what to do when driving in the winter conditions,” said McClain.  “So I was not aware that this was going to happen.”  For these officers, they aren't a big fan of the attention.  It was all in a day's work.  “It's an honor to get to serve the people of Idaho,” said Hausauer.  “It's always the smallest things that bring the greatest joy.  Helping somebody change a tire, or somebody who’s out of gas.  In this case, somebody who’s in their own medical emergency or crisis, allowing them to get the next level of care necessary to save their life.”


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California cadet run to state Capitol honors the fallen



As dozens of California Highway Patrol junior cadets led a cacophony of yells early Wednesday morning, 138 cadets from the graduating class of the CHP Academy set off on a traditional run from West Sacramento to the California Peace Officers' Memorial near the state Capitol.  Traditional cadet run from CHP Academy in West Sacramento to state Capitol signifies the end of 28 weeks of training.  138 cadets will graduate later this week.  13 cadets are women.  "It's surreal," said Stephanie Combs, a cadet who is scheduled to graduate later this week.  This year's run comes days after a Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy was shot and killed while on duty.  Traditional CHP graduating class run to law enforcement memorial while junior cadets yell.  "It's certainly something you think about.  But, that'll wait until Monday or the next day or the day after that," Chianti Williams said as she waited to see her brother run past.  "Today is about celebrating their hard work."  The monument where the run will end is a tribute to the more than 1,600 California law enforcement officers who lost their lives while serving and protecting the public and "underscores the soon-to-be officers the dangers of the job upon which they are about to embark."  While at the monument, cadets and officers will honor the fallen officers with a moment of silence as a sign of respect for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the people of California.  The tradition is a long-standing right of passage for cadets as they complete their 28-week training at the CHP Academy.

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New Hampshire State Troopers Move Cows Away From Interstate

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Here’s one of the reasons that some of us say we’re from “Cow” Hampshire: The New Hampshire State Police had to deal with a potentially udderly dangerous situation on I-93 on Nov. 15, 2016, in Canterbury after eight cows were found running along the side of the highway.  The troopers were able to keep the cows from entering traffic by moo-ving them away from the Interstate.  The effort by troopers to keep the highway from becoming a butcher shop only caused minor delays to those traveling during rush hour traffic.  State police noted on Facebook that the owner of the cows arrived about 30 minutes later and they were returned safely to their farm.



Florida Highway Patrol Achieves Gold Standard CALEA Re-Accrediation

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A team of assessors from the prestigious Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®), has completed an extensive review of the Florida Highway Patrol’s (FHP) policies, procedures and law enforcement practices and announced that FHP has achieved gold standard re-accreditation.  This is the first time FHP pursued and achieved the gold standard accreditation, which distinguishes FHP as a leading law enforcement agency in the nation.  “The FHP works tirelessly each and every day to ensure the safety of Floridians and visitors, and I am very proud of FHP’s continued professionalism,” said Terry L. Rhodes, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).  “FHP members have a very demanding job, and the gold standard accreditation recognizes the high standard in which they perform their duties.”  After a comprehensive evaluation of FHP’s records and an in-depth, onsite inspection, a review committee hearing was held on November 5 in Charleston, South Carolina.  The review committee recommended, and the full CALEA Commission unanimously agreed, that FHP is in compliance with all mandatory national law enforcement standards and subsequently awarded FHP the Meritorious, Advanced Law Enforcement Accreditation.  With this seventh award, FHP has maintained its accredited status with CALEA continuously since 1996.  “FHP is one of only eight other Highway Patrol agencies nationally who have gained accreditation through CALEA,” said Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol.  “In today’s challenging times, it is critical that we lead by example and perform our law enforcement duties in a professional and courteous manner.  FHP is committed to applying nationally-recognized best practices of law enforcement for the citizens and visitors of this great state.  I am extremely proud of all of the men and women of the FHP who worked diligently to ensure FHP is among the best in the nation.”  During the onsite assessment, assessors toured several FHP facilities throughout the state including Orlando, Jacksonville, Lake City, Fort Myers, Tampa, Ocala, Havana and Tallahassee where they interviewed a number of command staff members, line officers, civilian personnel and the general public.  The assessment team noted that professionalism, courtesy and respect are taken seriously among the FHP ranks, and the members of the FHP truly embrace the concept of public service.  The commission finalized their assessment report and determined that the FHP is an effective and professional law enforcement agency that provides quality service to a diverse service population during challenging economic times.  The commission also added that the FHP works hard and uses the resources available to achieve their objectives and remains focused on providing courteous and responsive services to the citizens through a broad range of functions.