California Highway Patrol makes 66 DUI arrests during holiday maximum enforcement period
The California Highway Patrol says 66 people have been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving over the Thanksgiving holiday. The DUI arrests were made between November 22 at 6 p.m. and November 26 at 6 a.m., according to CHP. The number is up slightly from this time last year when 52 arrests were made over the Thanksgiving holiday. Statewide, CHP has made 965 DUI arrests, up from 768 over Thanksgiving in 2016. The arrests were made as part of the state’s holiday maximum enforcement period. During the period, all available officers were deployed to catch drunken or drug-impaired drivers as well as speeders and other traffic violators. The maximum enforcement period lasts until Sunday at 11:59 p.m.
Highway Patrol Sergeant nearly killed in collision is happy to be back on the road
Sgt. Scott Bennett still has difficulties descending stairs — “my ankle just doesn’t want to bend that way” — but he’s back in his uniform and in his new Montana Highway Patrol car, off of light desk duty and onto the streets. The road that led to his recovery lasted a long eight months for Bennett, who was injured in a head-on crash on U.S. Highway 93 by an alleged impaired driver during a snowstorm March 8. Bennett was driving northbound and a Dodge Intrepid driven southbound by David Deshazo slid out of control about 6 a.m. and into the northbound lane on a curve. Deshazo, 44, is charged with two felonies — negligent vehicular assault and criminal endangerment — relating to the accident. Not only does the moment of impact replay in Bennett’s head, he’s watched it a few times on the video captured on his patrol car camera. “The camera was by my head,” he says, holding his right hand near his eye, “so the video is exactly what I saw. Every time I watch it, or think about it, I cringe. It was a snowstorm, and I just see this car coming at me.” When the crash occurred, his right foot was pushing down hard on the brake pedal, and the engine came through the firewall into the passenger compartment, breaking his right tibia and fibia, and shattering other bones into pieces. He slumped over into the passenger seat after the impact, but didn’t lose consciousness. In the Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital’s emergency room, Bennett was in so much pain he begged for doctors to take his right leg off. He endured three surgeries, which involved inserting plates, screws and cadaver bones in his leg. At one point, he wore an “external fixator” that consisted of bolts through his ankle and a metal external plate that immobilized it. Bennett spent the first few weeks in a haze, lying on his couch, consuming pain pills and keeping the ankle elevated with ice on it. He watched movies, dozed, and tried not to think that his 17-year career could be finished. “It would be easy to give up; I could have taken medical retirement, but I didn’t want to go that route,” Bennett recalled. “In this career, you identify as a person — it’s kind of who you are — as a law enforcement officer. It doesn’t stop when you get off shift. “Because of the extent of the damage, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to come back to full duty. You have to run, jump and fight, things that involve a lot of physical activity. I wasn’t sure I’d get back.” He went to physical therapy, but also returned to his lifelong love of lifting weights. At first, he went to the gym once a week, then twice a week, then three times. The workouts started lightly, then he added more weight. Bennett laughs, recalling how he would have to push down on his right leg to accelerate his vehicle to get to the gym. “Luckily, it wasn’t too far, and I could use my left leg to brake,” he said. After five months of what he called an excruciating period of time, he was allowed back on light duty status. That meant paperwork at his desk, out of uniform, and without a marked MHP vehicle. “It was very frustrating,” he recalled. “I would be in the office, maybe approving reports, but across the scanner would come a nearby call and I couldn’t run on it.” A few short weeks ago, his doctor cleared him for patrol duty. He’s got a new vehicle, the old uniform, and new boots. His old rig was totaled in the accident and his duty boots were cut off. His supervisor, Sgt. Jim Kitchin, is thrilled to have Bennett return. He notes that with only 242 officers statewide, anytime one is off the streets it’s felt throughout the ranks. Along with having to move people around to cover shifts, it limits their opportunities to do proactive policing. “Sgt. Bennett is one of the sergeants that we like to have on the road, and he likes to be out there working with his team,” Kitchin said. “Having him back is great.” Bennett knows he’ll never be the same. He’s expected to have severe arthritis in his right ankle as he ages. He’s still in a lot of discomfort, and the accident limits some physical activities, like racquetball. But he feels he is close to the end of his road to recovery. “I’m adapting to my new reality,” Bennett said. “But it’s good to be back. I’ve been to a couple of crashes, have made some traffic stops, and even just finished making an arrest. I’m still in the office doing paperwork a lot, because that’s part of my job, but it’s good to be back.”
Texas Trooper killed in line of duty
Trooper Damon Allen was shot and killed while making a traffic stop on I-45 in Freestone County, just south of Fairfield, at approximately 4:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day. He had contacted the driver and was returning to his patrol car when the man exited his car and opened fire with a rifle. Trooper Allen was killed at the scene. The man was located in Waller County several hours later and taken into custody after exchanging shots with officers. Trooper Allen had served with the Texas Highway Patrol for 15 years. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Governor Baker names Kerry Gilpin new Massachusetts State Police Superintendent
Kerry A. Gilpin, a 23-year State Police veteran who turned to a career in law enforcement after the murder of her sister, took command of the 2,200-person force on Wednesday, a day after her predecessor and his top deputy abruptly retired amid a scandal over an altered police report. In a closed door ceremony at his office, Governor Charlie Baker swore in Gilpin, 47, a major who previously served as deputy division commander of the Division of Standards and Training, which oversees internal affairs as well as the State Police training academy. “It is the mission of the Massachusetts State Police to keep the Commonwealth safe and I have the utmost confidence that Colonel Gilpin will excel as the leader of our tremendous police force,” said Baker in a statement. “Colonel Gilpin brings decades of experience and knowledge to her post, with a deep understanding of the State Police force at every level.”