Connecticut State Police K-9s In the Digital Age
Police dogs are great at sniffing out hidden drugs -- and as more crime goes digital, state police in Connecticut are training canines to sniff out evidence on computers and cell phones. Somewhere stashed behind a long wooden wall, in a dark gymnasium packed with old suitcases, is a hidden computer memory card. It's the kind of tiny chip you'd slip into a cell phone or a digital camera. Selma, a trim black lab with a nose trained to sniff out technology, is determined to find it. She can find things like hard drives, "cell phones, mobile devices -- such as tablets -- and, more importantly, devices such as USB drives or SD cards," said her handler, Detective George Jupin with the Connecticut State Police Computer Crimes Unit. After picking up the scent, Selma zips over to one corner of the gym, and puts her paws up on the wall to indicate she's found the stashed memory card. Jupin said Selma goes out about twice a week to execute search warrants. One time he said police already searched a house, but when they brought in Selma, she hit on a drawer human officers overlooked. Shoved in the back was a digital camera -- and it was filled with pictures indicating a child pornography suspect was doing more than just looking. "You don't have enough time to look at everything, but with the canine, it definitely makes you feel that you've done a more thorough investigation," Jupin said. "Getting into all those nooks and crannies of a house, particularly when the houses are large -- or they're packed with a lot of stuff. It's helpful." Selma was Connecticut's first E-Dog. Since then, state police taught six other Labradors to find hidden hardware. Those dogs are serving at police departments across the country and at the FBI. Trooper First Class Michael Real trains the dogs. Originally, he said they were bred to assist the blind, but didn't make it in guide-dog school, in part, because of high energy and an obsession with food -- bad traits for a seeing-eye dog -- but ideal for a canine in training. "We take these dogs particularly because they have great food drive -- and that’s how they eat every day from the time we get 'em," Real said. "It’s odor equates to food." Selma gets her dinner when she finds a chemical compound surrounding the memory boards of all cell phones and computers. It's put there to help keep the hardware cool. Real said it took about a year to train Selma to find the compound on actual hardware. Now, she can find hidden DVDs and Blu Ray discs, too. Real said the E-Dogs are even alerting to vintage tech -- like stashed-away floppy discs or VHS tapes. "They constantly amaze you with their ability to identify something similar to what they've been trained on," Real said. "It kind of leads us down the path of other things we should be training them on." Detective George Jupin said he's already getting calls for Selma to assist in homicide and fraud investigations. And while bomb-sniffing dogs are already a thing -- Jupin said the next step for Selma might be bomb reconstruction -- using her nose at a blast site to sniff out the scattered components of a computerized detonator.
Girls Lacrosse Team Honors New Jersey State Trooper Who Lost His Life
Aryn McCormick wore her late fiancé's sweatshirt, the baggy black one with "Irish Lacrosse" embossed on the front."Mine doesn't fit anymore," said McCormick, who is expecting her second child in August. Her older son, Seamus, will turn 1 on May 18. He was front and center Wednesday, wearing his green sweat jacket with the Fighting Irish logo, smiling at everybody who caught his eye. "Sad and happy," Camden Catholic senior goalie Khaia Baranowski said in summation of a special afternoon at Shamrock Field, when the Irish girls' lacrosse team welcomed back their former assistant coach and honored a loyal supporter of the program who made the ultimate sacrifice. Camden Catholic's 11-6 victory over Cherry Hill East on a cool, overcast day was dedicated to New Jersey state trooper Sean Cullen, who was killed in a traffic accident in West Deptford while on duty on March 8. Baranowski and other seniors presented McCormick with some tokens of their affection and appreciation during a pregame ceremony - a pair of miniature lacrosse sticks, a Camden Catholic bear and bib, flowers and letters from assistant coach Kathleen Notos' second-grade class. "There's some jokes in there," Camden Catholic head coach Bridget Sipera said of the letters. "Just really precious stuff." Players from both teams wore blue ribbons in their hair in honor of Cullen, and some Camden Catholic players had blue-and-gold shoelaces as well. A large sign that read "In Honor of Trooper Sean Cullen" hung beneath the windows of the press box, and all proceeds from the snack stand and sale of Camden Catholic gear were to be donated to the family. "This is a family that means so much to Camden Catholic," Sipera said. "This is something our seniors wanted to do. They came to me and asked if we could do something like this, and we ran with it." McCormick and Sipera played lacrosse together at Camden Catholic. Both were in the Class of 2002. McCormick was Sipera's assistant coach for four years, through 2013. She coached the current seniors as freshmen. "This is the reason why we love Camden Catholic," McCormick said. "This is the reason why we always come back - the tradition, the support." McCormick said she has been "overwhelmed" by the outpouring of support since Cullen's death. "It's been over the top," said McCormick, who lives in Cinnaminson in a home she shared with Cullen. "It's been amazing." McCormick said Cullen was "so supportive" of Camden Catholic girls' lacrosse program as well as a big fan of the Irish wrestling team. Cullen, a star wrestler at Cinnaminson High School and Lycoming College, served as an assistant coach for Camden Catholic's wrestling team for one year under then-head coach Ryan McCormick, Aryn's brother. "That's how we met," Aryn McCormick said. "Sean wrestled against my brother. We went out one night and he introduced us." Baranowski, who made five saves as Camden Catholic improved its record to 11-3, has a special relationship with McCormick. McCormick said Baranowski was the first "nonfamily member" to babysit Seamus. That was in February, about a month before Cullen's death. "I was excited, but I basically just watched the dog," Baranowski said. "[Seamus] slept the whole time." Baranowski said the game carried extra significance for the team. "We're so happy they're here," Baranowski said. "But at the same time, we're so sad that we lost a loved one."
Connecticut State Police Bloodhound Tracks Down Missing Women
A State Police bloodhound is being credited with tracking down an 89-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s who was disoriented and lost in the woods. According to state police, at about 5:40 p.m. on Sunday, Troop L-Litchfield and the Woodbury Resident Trooper's Office were notified the missing elderly woman. The woman was last seen at about 5 p.m. at her Woodbury residence. Upon arrival troopers, and officers from the Woodbury Resident Trooper’s Office searched the residence and immediate area, but were unable to locate her. A State Police K9 team (German shepherd) also responded and assisted with the search. The state police helicopter, Trooper One, was requested, but was unable to fly due to the inclement weather. Members of the Woodbury Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the scene and assisted in the search. Fire department members planned to deploy a boat to check a pond located in the immediate area. Woodbury residents were alerted of the missing woman via the towns reverse 911 system. At about, 7:50 p.m. a state police bloodhound responded to the scene to further assist with the search. Trooper Kerry Halligan and her K9 partner Texas, a nearly 2 year old bloodhound, initiated a search for the 89 year old woman. After approximately 40 minutes of searching, K9 Texas located the missing woman approximately a quarter mile from her residence, in thick brush. The missing woman was disoriented and appeared to be suffering from hypothermia. The missing woman was transported to Saint Mary’s Hospital for evaluation by the Woodbury Volunteer Ambulance.
Former Maine State Trooper Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award
Inside his modest room at the Gardiner Healthcare Facility in Houlton recently, James Brown Sr.’s aged fingers traced a laminated map of the world. The 94-year-old talked vividly of the countries he had visited as he did so, running his fingers along the curved coast of Okinawa, next to the blue waters that engulfed Pearl Harbor and around the circular Attu Island. But it was his career in law enforcement he spoke of most, albeit modestly. Officials at the Houlton health care facility said recently that it was that lengthy police and naval career, his continuing ties to it, his strong bond with his family and his shining personality that led the facility to nominate him for a lifetime achievement award through the Maine Health Care Association’s Remember ME Project. According to its website, the Remember ME project is one of theMaine Health Care Association‘s most popular programs. It features black-and-white photographs accompanied by brief biographies of pioneering, innovative and interesting residents living in Maine’s long-term care facilities. Brown was one of only 34 winners statewide, with only two coming from Aroostook County. Brown, who has been married to his wife, Anna, for 68 years and has two sons, James Brown Jr. and Kevin Brown, said last week he was surprised and honored to receive the award. Brown Sr. served nearly four years in the Navy as a fire control man during World War II. Following that, he joined the Maine State Police and served with Troop E in Orono for seven years before being transferred to Thomaston as a sergeant for Troop D in 1957. After reassignment in 1958, he served 17 years as a member of Troop F in Houlton before retiring as a lieutenant in 1975. Brown next worked as chief of the Houlton Police Department for another seven years. “I have a lot of good memories of my years in law enforcement,” Brown said. “Those were the times when I met the best people in my life. I had a lot of good people serve with me, and I still keep in touch with a lot of them today. Every trooper that worked for me has been in to see me at some point.” Brown remains so revered by fellow troopers that when he was hospitalized in a rehabilitation facility in Bangor, his son James Brown Jr. said, he was visited by a number of members of Troop E in Orono. “That meant a lot to him,” Brown Jr. said. The elder Brown also is visited weekly by current and former members of Troop F in Houlton. “Those officers have offered to do anything for us that we need, which is a testimony to the caliber of people that they are,” Brown Jr. said. Anna Brown, who is not in a health care facility like her husband but visits him frequently, said he has always been humble and has never bragged about his accomplishments. That was the case last week, when he was asked to talk about the most memorable case he ever worked on. Without elaborating, he simply responded, “I worked on all of my cases with someone else.”