An Anne Arundel County woman owes her life to a Maryland State Police corporal and cadet who pulled her from a burning car this morning, moments before it was engulfed in flames.
About 6:30 a.m., a Hyundai minivan driven by Melody Grimm, 57, of Crofton, went off the road at Route 301 near Leeland Drive in Prince George’s County, state police said. An off-duty corrections officer saw the accident and stopped at the Upper Marlboro Scale House, where Cpl. John P. Griffin and Cadet Andrew Neall were on duty checking trucks for safety violations.
Griffin and Neall immediately drove out and found the minivan, which had flames shooting several feet above it. The engine compartment was on fire, and flames were also spreading beneath the van, police said.
Neall said he asked bystanders where the driver was, but they didn’t know. He tried to open the driver’s door, but it was locked. Griffin then broke a window of the smoke-filled car with his baton, got the unconscious driver unbelted and out the door.
“At that time, the fire is all around my legs and feet,” said Griffin, a state police corporal for 10 years and a volunteer firefighter in Queen Anne’s County.
The two had carried the woman no more than 15 feet away when they felt an intense rush of hot air as the rest of the car erupted in flames.
Prince George’s fire and EMS units arrived and treated the woman, who became coherent and later refused further medical attention.
“It didn’t quite hit until her daughter showed up, and she was very emotional,” Neall said. “That’s when it really hit, that we had done something really good.”
Neall, a 20-year-old Glen Burnie resident, said he had always wanted to be a police officer, and particularly a state trooper. “Helping people, there’s just a feeling about it,” he said. “It makes you feel really special.”
And even after years on the state police, that feeling apparently remains for Griffin.
“It was pretty awesome to be at the right place at the right time,” the corporal said.
With the Baltimore City Police Department embroiled in controversy over a new policy that prohibits the release of names of officers who shoot or kill civilians, the department bestowed its highest honors yesterday on three officers who found themselves in recent gun battles and helped save the lives of their colleagues.
More than 50 officers were recognized for their efforts, which included shooting suspects who had fired on their partners and coming to the aid of civilians while off-duty. Police commanders gave out three Medals of Honor, seven Citations of Valor, 26 Silver Stars, 19 Bronze Stars and three Certificates of Recognition.
“What you do every day – risking your lives to help the citizens of this city – we are all grateful and thankful,” said Mayor Sheila Dixon.
The recipients of the Medal of Honor, the department’s highest award, were Officer Christopher Timms, who shot and killed a suspect who hid under a van and shot his partner; Detective Robert Himes, who rendered aid and protected a colleague who was shot while chasing a suspect; and Officer Daniel Harper, who dragged partner Dante Arthur to safety after Arthur was shot in the face while making a drug arrest in January.
Arthur, who is still recovering from his injuries and was unable to attend, received a Citation of Valor.
Also recognized was Detective Jemell Rayam, who on Friday fatally shot a man who had struck another officer with a vehicle. On Monday, police redacted Rayam’s name from a police report of a 2007 incident for which he was honored yesterday with a Citation of Valor and a Silver Star.
Officials have said they generally will release names of officers who shoot civilians only when the officers are found to have committed a crime, citing safety concerns for officers and their families. Of the 24 incidents for which officers were recognized, all but six involved the shooting of a criminal suspect who police said threatened the life of an officer.
There have been many incidents where civilians and police officers have been hurt, but nobody knew whose fault it was. It usually ends up being the police officer’s word vs. the civilian’s word. But now Taser has launched a headcam product for Axon that allows police officers what happens in the streets.
“Our Axon and Evidence.com technology will be a lifeline to protect truth,” stated Steve Tuttle, VP of communications at Taser. According to a report on the Denver Post, about 90% of those who were tased by police claimed that they were unarmed.
The Axon camera mounts on the head of police officers and records what happens. Each headset plugs into a computer powered by Linux that looks like a PSP. The camera has a pretty big LCD screen so that police officers can watch the replays. The device has a One Touch Privacy Mode that suspends recording temporarily if anything appears to be too graphic.
Some people in Harlan County are getting a hands on look at how the sheriff’s department works through the citizens’ police academy. Tuesday’s lesson included domestic violence, the sheriff’s chaplin program, and offered a real life demonstration on the use of force.
Harlan County Sheriff Marvin Lipfird decided to offer the 12 week class to let the people of Harlan County see what they do on a daily basis, and so far, the “students” say they are learning a lot. “We want them to see that their sheriff’s office is out here and we want to give them a view of what we do, some of the things that we do,” says Lipfird.
He hopes people can use what they learn to improve their own communities and neighborhood watch groups.
“They can take back to their communities some pride, they can see that they’ve got well trained police officers, people that are looking out for their neighborhood, people looking out for their childrens’ welfare, their welfare,” say Bill Ball with the Sheriff’s Chaplin Program.
The sheriff also talked about uses of force including the tazer, a tool he says is very effective when used properly.
“It reduces officer injury, it reduces suspect injury a lot, when you go into having to wrestle with someone, you have the potential of breaking a bone yourself or them injuring themselves,” says Lipfird.
One of his deputies volunteered to be part of the demonstration. Students say they are thankful for the free classes and are learning an officer’s job is harder than it looks.
“Oh yeah, I didn’t know they had to go through all that they do! It was a lot harder than what I thought it would be,” says student John Gross.
In the coming weeks, students will learn more about patrolling the streets, K-9 units, and processing crime scenes. Lipfird says at the end of the 12 week class, he will give the students a mock crime and allow them to present their case in a mock courtroom.
TALK TO COPS OVER COFFEE: New Tracy police Chief Janet Thiessen will convene the Police Department’s “Coffee with the Cops” at 9 a.m. Saturday at Barista’s, 112 West 10th St.
Thiessen will talk with residents in an informal setting, and other officers will be on hand to discuss community issues or simply meet to people to provide a name and face to go along with their badge numbers.
Also participating will be members of the department’s crime prevention unit and the city’s code enforcement division, to discuss neighborhood watch programs and other crime-reduction efforts.
For more information, contact Lt. Wade Harper at 209-831-6696 or wade.harperATci.tracy.ca.us.
Trooper says man pulled up to flip him off — twice
A 27-year-old man pulled up behind a state police trooper, parked and began “violently” waving his middle fingers at the trooper in Newberry Township, Pa.
But State Police didn’t charge Jason Thomas Vogelsong with disorderly conduct until he returned to wave his hands at the trooper a second time Saturday.
State police said both gesturing incidents occurred while a trooper was investigating a hit-and-run crash at Exit 34 about noon.
While the trooper was along the service road at the exit, Vogelsong stopped his vehicle behind the trooper’s and then held up his hands, extended the middle finger of each hand and “waved them violently” at the trooper, police said.
Vogelsong then pulled away and drove to a nearby Superfresh grocery store, before turning around and returning to the trooper’s location where he gestured at the police officer again.
The trooper then asked Vogelsong if he needed help and cited him for disorderly conduct. Vogelsong apologized for giving the trooper “the middle fingers.” Vogelsong said he was having problems with Newberry Township Police after receiving a stop sign violation.
Gee, wonder WHY he was “having problems” with the police?
A half-pound of marijuana and a large amount of U.S. currency was confiscated March 1 after a routine traffic stop and a K-9 sniff resulted in suspicion.
The Wyoming Highway Patrol contacted the Evanston Police Department on March 1 to request a dog sniff.
Officer Josh Buhmann and K-9 Joey responded to the call at approximately 8 p.m.
They met with officers of the highway patrol to let Joey assist the troopers who were suspicios about a vehicle they had stopped speeding at milepost seven heading westbound on I-80.
There’s a new top dog at the Oroville Police Department. Bosco is the newest addition to the force and the only K-9 on duty.
The 17-month-old German Shepard came from the Czech Republic and is specially trained for police work. Bosco and his handler will undergo training in April and then they will be ready to hit the streets.
Officers say K-9 units prevent officer and suspect injury, and reduce the amount of time officers are in the field. K-9 Officer John Sanzone said “a situation that takes an officer 20 minutes to handle could take a K-9 unit less than 5 minutes to handle.”
The department raised $32,000 last year to start the K-9 unit. They still need to raise $20,000 to purchase a dog, equipment and training for a second K-9 unit. Link/video