New Michigan state troopers sworn in for duty

MSP July 2018 graduation

Michigan’s newest state troopers have graduated from the Michigan State Police (MSP) 134th Trooper Recruit School. Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP, administered the Oath of Office and Governor Rick Snyder gave the keynote address during the ceremony at the Lansing Center, according to a press release from the MSP. The new graduates will report for duty at posts across the state, bringing the statewide workforce to 1,269 troopers. The school began in January and included training in firearms, water safety, defensive tactics, patrol techniques, report writing, ethics, cultural diversity and implicit bias, first aid, criminal law, crime scene processing and precision driving. Out of 152 prospective troopers, 107 graduated, according to the release.



Drone helps Missouri State Highway Patrol

MSP Drone

Trooper Dan Yingling has been with the Missouri State Highway Patrol for seven years now and he's excited about the new addition of a drone to their crash team. "You know, I've been out on some crash scenes where we can't necessarily shut the roadway down completely and when you're trying to move traffic off of one lane into another, sometimes people get confused and you end up having to try to play frogger a little bit just to stay away from the cars," explained Trooper Yingling. Safety is just one of the advantages of the new technology.  "It's a very detailed, gives a very detailed photographic evidence of what happened," stated Sergeant John Lueckenhoff. The drone costs a little over $6,000, but investing in this technology now is saving the troop time. "Instead of having to get out into the roadways to plot each individual point, we can fly the drone over or beside the road way and then we can take multiple pictures and we stitch all those pictures together with some computer software and it creates a 3-D model for us," said Yingling. And that means that a crash like this that may take over an hour to process traditionally can be completed in a 16 minute flight time with the drone. "When you consider the officer's safety and the actual shortage of highway closures, ultimately, this is making it safer for everybody," stated Lueckenhoff. This was the first time Troop D used the drone to cover a crash scene and while the weather conditions have to be right for the equipment to be used, Lueckenhoff sees a lot of promise in the technology.

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Michigan State Police return to garrison hats

MSP Garrison Hats

Michigan State Police will switch back to garrison hats on Sunday, July 8, and away from the campaign-style hats troopers have worn since December 2016, the agency announced on social media. Garrison hats are what most people are accustomed to seeing Michigan State Police wear.  MSP had brought the campaign-style hats, the original style worn by state troopers, on Dec. 22, 2016, in honor of their 100th anniversary. Troopers wore campaign hats from the founding of the Michigan State Police through the early 1920s. That decision was the result of a vote taken by State Police employees, said Lt. Mike Shaw, a Michigan State Police spokesman. 



New York State Police trooper killed in the line of duty

NYSP July Killed in the line of duty

Trooper Nicholas Clark was shot and killed when he and other officers responded to a suicidal subject at 10041 Welch Road, in Erwin, New York.  He had responded to the residence, along with members of the Steuben County Sheriff's Office and Corning Police Department, after the man's wife called 911 at approximately 3:30 am and reported that he was suicidal and possibly armed.  Crisis negotiators were attempting to make contact with the subject when he opened fire, fatally wounding Trooper Clark.  The subject was found deceased a short time later suffering from a self inflicted gunshot wound.  Trooper Clark had served with the New York State Police for just under three years. He is survived by his parents and brother.  He was a former two-time high school state wrestling champion and had previously tried out for the Buffalo Bills football team.



Missouri State Highway Patrol adds 26 new troopers

MSHP June 2018 graduation

Colonel Sandra K. Karsten, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, announced that 26 troopers graduated from the Patrol’s Law Enforcement Academy on June 29, 2018. The ceremony took place at 10 a.m. in the Academy gymnasium. The 105th Recruit Class reported to the Academy on January 2, 2018, to begin the 25-week training course to become a trooper. The new troopers report for duty in their assigned troops on July 16, 2018. Governor Michael L. Parson was a special guest speaker at the graduation ceremony, and Colonel Sandra K. Karsten also addressed the class. Brigadier General Gregory Mason, assistant adjutant general, Missouri Army National Guard, provided the keynote address during the graduation ceremony. The Honorable Mary Rhodes Russell, Supreme Court of Missouri, administered the Oath of Office to the new troopers. Dean Roger K. McMillian, vice president of College Affairs for Mineral Area College, conferred an associate of applied science degree to 11 of the new troopers. Troop F Color Guard presented and retired the colors. Sgt. John H. Lueckenhoff, Troop D, sang the national anthem. Pastor Gary Dedmon, Diggins Baptist Church, Seymour, MO, provided the invocation and benediction. Four class awards were presented. The recruits accumulated points toward graduation in the categories of physical fitness, firearms, and academics throughout their 25 weeks at the Academy. The person with the highest number of points in each category earned the respective award. Trooper Justice C. Simpson earned the physical fitness award. T rooper Cody A. Groves earned the firearms award. Trooper Kalen Linneman earned the academic award. Trooper Brandon S. Gunby accepted the Superintendent’s Award, which is presented to the person with the most points overall.



Ohio State Highway Patrol graduates 25 cadets in ceremony

OSHP June 2018 graduation

The Patrol’s 163rd Academy Class graduated last Friday after 24 weeks of intense training. The keynote address was provided by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. Additional remarks were provided by Director John Born, Ohio Department of Public Safety; Colonel Paul A. Pride, Patrol Superintendent and Captain Chuck A. Jones, Academy Commandant. The Oath of Office was issued by Judge Everett H. Krueger, Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. Courses completed by the 163rd class included, crash investigation, criminal and traffic law, detection of impaired drivers, firearms, physical fitness, self-defense and emergency vehicle operations. Each of the graduates will reported to their posts on Sun., June 25, 2018. The graduates’ first 60-working days will be a field-training period under the guidance of a veteran officer. The new graduates are assigned to 17 of the Patrol’s 58 posts.



Kentucky State Police add 42 troopers to force

KSP June 2018 graduation

The Thin Gray Line got a little thicker on Friday, June 22, as 42 cadets graduated from the Kentucky State Police Academy. The 96th KSP Cadet Class had 75 members when it began Jan. 7, but during the rigorous training process 33 resigned. Training included more than 1,000 hours of classroom and field study in subjects such as constitutional law, juvenile and traffic law, use of force, weapons training, defensive tactics, first aid, high speed vehicle pursuit, criminal investigation, computer literacy, hostage negotiations, evidence collection, radio procedures, search and seizure, crash investigation, drug identification, traffic control, crowd control, armed robbery response, land navigation, electronic crimes, sex crimes, hate crimes, domestic violence, bomb threats and hazardous materials. As if that wasn’t enough during nearly six months at the KSP Academy, nine of the new troopers also earned Associate’s Degrees in General Occupational and Technical Studies from the Bluegrass Community and Technical College during the training, the first to do so thanks to legislation passed by the 2017 General Assembly that included new hiring guidelines. “Previously, applicants were required to have 60 hours of college credit, two years of active duty military experience or two years of certified police officer experience,” said KSP Commissioner Rick Sanders.  “Now, anyone who possesses a high school diploma or GED and has three years of full-time work experience can apply for employment as a Kentucky State Trooper and earn an associate’s degree during the training process.” Lt. Gov Jenean Hampton told the new troopers they were coming on board during a time when the need for them was greater than ever. “Gov. (Matt) Bevin and I are very grateful that you have chosen to serve and the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky have tremendous respect for what you do. God bless all of you and the family members that support you.”



Nevada Highway Patrol debuts patrol cars with 'ghost markings' that are tougher to see

NHP Ghost Markings

Keep your eyes peeled, speeders, tailgaters and otherwise reckless drivers, it's about to get a little tougher to identify some Nevada Highway Patrol vehicles.  A handful of patrol vehicles are being outfitted in a new "ghost" regalia, rather than Nevada Highway Patrol's normally eye-catching markings.  The goal, according to a press release, is to increase enforcement efforts, "specifically targeting hazardous moving violations such as reckless driving as well as distracted driving, impaired driving, speeding and seat belt enforcement."  Trooper Matt McLaughlin said the hope is that the new vehicles will be more difficult for erratic or aggressive drivers to spot and avoid.  "(Aggressive drivers) will see a patrol car and they'll change their behavior," McLaughlin said.  "So the thought process behind a subdued or a specially marked patrol vehicle, is that they may not be able to see us and we can observe those violations and get that person stopped before something bad does happen." Troopers driving the discretely-marked vehicles will have the same enforcement abilities as a Trooper driving a normally marked vehicle.  The vehicles still bear many calling cards of a patrol car, such as a large grill and faintly visible lights, but many of the normally large reflective Nevada Highway Patrol insignias and markings are only faintly visible on the "ghost" vehicles.  Just three patrol cars will be outfitted with the new markings at first, but more will likely be added.



When a boy from Brooklyn asked for help, the Rhode Island State Police answered

RISP Boy hugging cheetah

Corporal Lawens Fevrier got the mail on a fall day last year at the Hope Valley Barracks of the Rhode Island State Police. What he found was pretty unusual—a letter postmarked from Brooklyn, New York.  “Dear Rhode Island State Highway Patrol,” the letter read. “I lost my Roger...can you please find him? I love him,” the writer said. “Roger is a cheetah,” the writer added, with a hand-drawn photo of Roger. “He fell out of the car window on Interstate 95 around West Greenwich. He is about 12 inches long.”   It was signed: Will Ketcher, 4 years old.  Fevrier said he was touched by the letter, thinking of his own young sons at home. “I know how important it is for them to sleep with their blankets or stuffed animal,” he said. “We were all 4 years old at one time in our lives.” Will’s mom, Stephanie Ketcher, says the family was never expecting to hear back from the state police. “The letter was never designed to be effective,” Ketcher said in a FaceTime interview from Brooklyn. She said the family had been visiting Will’s aunt at the University of Rhode Island when Will was hanging his stuffed cheetah out the window. The stuffed animal then flew out onto the highway. “That instantaneous reaction of...’I told you not to do that, I knew he was going to fly out the window,’” Ketcher said. “That quickly went away when I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw his sweet, sad face crumple up.” With the 4-year-old’s prize possession gone, the family determined it was unsafe to stop and try and retrieve it on I-95. In an attempt to quell Will’s devastation, Ketcher said Will’s dad suggested they write a letter. “Let’s write to the state police and try to get Roger back,” Ketcher said. The idea came from a scene in the Charlie Brown comic strip where Linus, desperate to recover his lost blanket that Lucy had used as a kite, puts an ad in the local paper asking for help finding it. In the comic strip, the “Air Rescue Service” eventually finds it floating over the Pacific Ocean.  In Roger’s story, officials were not so lucky. Fevrier says troopers were on the lookout for the stuffed cheetah on I-95 but fell short. “We actually did send search and rescue out there,” he quipped. “Unfortunately, it was raining and we just couldn’t find the one that he lost.” A number of months went by. Then, one day Ketcher arrived home in Brooklyn and saw a package waiting. “I saw the return label on the box and I couldn’t even believe it,” she said. When the family opened the box, there was a brand new stuffed cheetah for Will—and a letter from the Rhode Island State Police. “On behalf of the Rhode Island State Police, we are so sorry that Roger was lost,” the note read. “We spent days looking for him on the highway. We couldn’t find him. We did find another cheetah walking around the highway. We stopped to talk to him. He said that he was looking for a new home in the Big Apple and we thought of you. Before we sent him to you we had to make him a Cheetah Trooper. The first cheetah trooper in the history of the Rhode Island State Police.” “He went right along with the narrative that we had created for Will,” Ketcher said. “Everybody we have told this story to is moved almost to tears. Some actually to tears.” Ketcher said the gesture “restored her faith in humanity.” “There’s so much negative stuff going on in the world, we’re inundated with it... it’s so refreshing to have something like this happen that just reminds you that there are really good people out there,” she said. When asked why he went above and beyond to help an out-of-state kid, Fevrier’s answer was simple. “We take every case serious, whether it’s a crime scene or a letter from Will,” Fevrier said. “We just wanted to...make him happy.” Over FaceTime, 4-year-old Will was certainly happy—thanking the state police and telling us he gave his new cheetah a very fitting name: “Rhody.”



Massachusetts State trooper meets newborn baby after helping rush mom to hospital


Mariana and Isaac Merino are all smiles. Their bundle of joy was delivered safely and just in the nick of time all thanks to Massachusetts State Police Trooper Daniel Gill. “I had to step it up a little bit and get here,” Trooper Gill said, talking about his mad dash to the hospital for the delivery of Samuel Alexander Mello Merino who was born on Father’s Day. Mariana said she went into labor Sunday morning. Dad was in Boston stuck in traffic so Mariana had a friend drive her to the hospital. On the way, they spotted Trooper Gill on the side of the highway issuing a ticket to another driver. “As soon as we pulled over another contraction started so I was like tapping on the window looking at him and I wanted to say something, but I couldn’t say anything,” Mariana Merino said. Trooper Gill immediately placed her into his cruiser and double-timed it to St. Vincent Hospital, the same hospital where he had his own two children. “The blue lights helped us cut through traffic so we were able to get their quicker than mom would have,” Gill said. On Tuesday, Gill met with the family and held Sammy for the first time. “It’s excellent especially happening on Father’s Day it was very special,” Gill said. Sammy is 6lbs 13oz and happy to be on his way home. “Thankfully Officer Gill was here and he really helped out my family. It’s my best Father’s Day yet,” Isaac Merino said.



First woman to win Maine State Police Trooper of the Year award

Maine SP 1st female trooper of the year

"The four core values of the Maine State Police. Integrity, fairness, compassion, and excellence.”  Excellence was on display at the Maine State Police annual awards ceremony. Awards were given to troopers who went above and beyond expectations, and to civilians whose actions saved lives. The ceremony also recognized retired Trooper Michael Vittum of Brewer with the legendary trooper award. "Quite a surprise, very good! To be honored by the State Police like this is something I didn't expect but very pleasing." Vittum served the State Police for twenty years and was Trooper of the Year in 1982. The 2017 Trooper of the Year award went to Detective Lauren Edstrom of Biddeford. "The journey of earning the title of trooper was life changing. Until I became a mother, there was no prouder title for me. As the first female trooper of the year. I am so grateful for the impact I hope this will have on my 8-year-old daughter Grace. I catch her putting my Stetson on, putting my boots on sometimes and walking around the house. I catch her looking in the mirror. She's my biggest fan."





Two sons follow father's footsteps to become Virginia state troopers

VSP Brothers and Father

The only thing Matthew and Jacob Burgett liked more than playing cops and robbers was a TV show that depicted the same thing. Seeing real-life officers bust the bad guys on “COPS” was what their dad, Scott, did every day as a state trooper, and the brothers couldn’t wait to join him in uniform. “I always thought it looked really cool,” said Matthew, 26, who became a Virginia State Policeman three years ago. “The fast cars. The sirens. I always had my mind set on law enforcement.” Jacob, who’s 23 and recently graduated from the State Police Academy, added: “I’ve never really thought of anything else.” Clearly. As the brothers talked, their mother, Cindy Burgett, went to the cabinet of their Fredericksburg home where she keeps construction paper artwork and cards made by her three children. (The couple’s oldest, Sarah, is 28, and followed her mother into the medical field. Cindy is a neonatal intensive care unit nurse, and Sarah is an X-ray nurse.) Cindy retrieved a Father’s Day card, undated, that Jacob had done, probably in elementary school. The cover showed his father’s uniform from the neck to the black attachments on his belt. There was a dark blue tie, his dad’s badge and name tag. Inside, Jacob had scrawled the lines from the theme song of his favorite show: “Bad boys, bad boys. Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?” Then, he signed the card on the last page. Next to the drawing of a police car with two antennas, he wrote “Happy Father’s Day!” in oversize letters and included a postscript that really spoke to where his head—and heart—were. It read: “PS: you rock dude!” Their father may have wanted to say the same to his boys when they graduated from Basic Trooper Session. Participants can have a relative or friend, also in law enforcement, hand them their diplomas, or they can get them from the Virginia State Police superintendent. The person Matthew and Jacob Burgett chose was 1st Sgt. Scott Burgett, who beamed with pride. “This is fantastic,” he said at Jacob’s graduation. Like the ceremony, the training classes—all 1,340 hours spread out over 29 weeks and 98 courses—are held at state police headquarters in North Chesterfield near Richmond. Each member of the Burgett family attended Jacob’s graduation. Matthew is three years older, but when he and his brother stood next to each other in uniform, with the same buzz cut and “cover” on their heads, they looked like twins. All the Burgetts have blue eyes, but the boys’ are the color of a glacier, like their mother’s. It’s not unusual to have fathers and sons, dads and daughters and husbands and wives on the force, said Virginia State Police Capt. Todd Taylor. Matt is under his command, and Taylor often jokingly tells Scott—who he’s known more than 25 years—that he’s the second-best trooper in the family. He teases that he’ll have to change it to third best now that Jacob has joined. Then, on a serious note, he said the Burgetts are “thinking men” who reason their way through problems. “I’m just proud of them all,” he said. “They’re good folks, a good family. I would like to have a whole bunch more of them.”



Oklahoma Highway Patrol holds first graduation in two years

OK HP June 2018 graduation

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol added 29 new troopers to its ranks during a graduation ceremony Friday. Held at the Memorial Road Church of Christ, 29 of the 46 cadets that entered the 65th Oklahoma Highway Patrol Academy in January were chosen to serve the state after completing 20 weeks of intensive training. During the academy, cadets were challenged academically, physically and mentally. Officials said the average workday for cadets ranged from 12 to 18 hours each day. Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager Sam Presti delivered the ceremony's keynote address, and Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice Douglas L. Combs administered the oath of office. Friday's graduation was the first since 2016. The academy was put on hold after budget cuts at the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety last year.



South Carolina Department of Public Safety promotes first female to lead regional troop

SCHP promotes 1st female to lead regional troop

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety has promoted the first female trooper to lead the Orangeburg region of the department. Charleston native Shawna Gadsden will become the first female to lead a regional Highway Patrol Troop. Gadsden will oversee Troop Seven in her new role as commander, which includes Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun, Hampton and Orangeburg counties. “Capt. Gadsden has a true passion for public service and a commitment to lowering highway collisions and fatalities,” said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith. “She is well-respected among her peers and will be an asset to the communities of Troop Seven.” Gadsden has served with the Highway Patrol for 25 years and was promoted to captain on June 8. She previously held the position of lieutenant/executive officer for the Charleston region since 2013. Gadsden takes over for Capt. Keith Grice, who retired after being with the department for 30 years, including five years as Troop Seven commander. “Capt. Gadsden has invested her entire career in serving with the Highway Patrol,” said SCHP Colonel Chris Williamson. “We are truly fortunate to have a leader with her extensive knowledge of the Highway Patrol – both from the administrative and enforcement sides.” Gadsden began her career in Lexington in 1993, transferring to Charleston County in Troop Six in 1994. Gadsden was promoted to corporal in 2002 and later to sergeant in 2008 in Troop Six/Post B (Dorchester and Colleton Counties). She became first sergeant in 2011 in Post A (Berkeley and Charleston Counties). Most recently, she had served as lieutenant (since 2013) in Troop Six Headquarters.



Arkansas 2017 State Trooper of the Year

ASP Trooper of the Year

Trooper Levi Fleming, 26, of Brinkley, was presented the Arkansas State Trooper of the Year Award on Wednesday during the annual state police awards ceremony. Trooper Fleming was among a group of more than 30 Arkansas State Police personnel recognized for cumulative work or assignments involving particular incidents during the 2017 calendar year. The recipient of the Trooper of the Year Award personifies the highest standards of public service and has demonstrates a record of esteemed law enforcement action. Trooper Fleming, a four-year veteran of the department, was specifically recognized for his January 21, 2017 action in response to a disturbance call at a DeValls Bluff residence. An intoxicated individual had forced his way into the residence, armed himself with a shotgun, and doused a portion of the garage and himself with gasoline. While Trooper Fleming was present, the individual then ignited a fire which consumed the individual and a portion of the garage. Trooper Fleming armed himself with a fire extinguisher, activated the device and entered the garage, successfully extricating the victim who had sustained serious burns across more than forty percent of his body. Trooper Fleming was also among eight state troopers to receive the department’s life-saving award.