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Monthly Archives: June 2009

Family and friends keep Trooper Brinkerhoff’s spirit alive

“It’s a dangerous job, to be a police officer. But when it got too hard for us, that’s when David’s unit showed up,” Nigrelli said.

Trooper Brinkerhoff was a member of the New York State police mobile response team. It is the same team that helped capture Ralph ‘Bucky’ Phillips, in 2006.

“From a little kid, he always know what he wanted to do. He worked his way through the ranks,” said Brinkerhoff’s brother, Mike. “Dave may be gone, but his memory lives on. And today, his memory runs on,” said State Police Captain Steve Nigrelli.
500 people raced to remember a life cut short. State trooper David Brinkerhoff was killed two years ago when his unit was searching for a fugitive in Margaretville, New York. He was just 29-years-old.

The money from this event will go toward a high school scholarship in Brinkerhoff’s memory, and to the Town of Boston recreation department.

“We grew up on these fields, we played baseball, soccer, football. This is what raised us,” Brinkerhoff said.

The day Bucky Phillips was caught was the same day Brinkerhoff’s daughter was born. Brinkerhoff returned home for her birth. Seven months later, he would never return from a different manhunt. Brinkerhoff’s wife and daughter weren’t able to make it to Saturday’s race.

The trooper Brinkerhoff foundation also raises money for law enforcement and emergency responders, as well as the Special Olympics.

“DAVID LEFT HIS OWN MEMORY. THROUGH THIS WE CAN HELP OTHERS FURTHER,” said Mike.MIKE BRINKERHOFF SAYS HIS BROTHER ALWAYS WANTED TO HELP PEOPLE. THROUGH THE FOUNDATION, BRINKERHOFF CONTINUES TO HELP EVEN AFTER HIS DEATH.

Link“Unfortunately, they couldn’t make it out here. I know they like to spend time together. They have their special father’s day event planned,” Mike Brinkerhoff said.

“Best career”

Ever since she was 11 years old, Kim Hart wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement. At 29, she has been a proud member of the Illinois State Police Department for two years.trooperkimhart_illnois

Hart grew up in Indianapolis and has lived in Vermilion County for the past seven years.

Only 6 percent of the state police force are women.

Master Sgt. John Thompson, who has been with the department for 13 years, said, “Trooper Hart and our other women officers are excellent employees, and they have made substantial contributions to the department.”

Right now Hart is assigned to road duty in Vermilion and Edgar counties. However, she may take assignments in any area of District 10, which includes Champaign, Coles, Douglas, Edgar, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, Shelby and Vermilion counties.

She has already completed two years with the state police, and has the goal to someday transfer to the investigations division, which is her special interest. Some of the other areas that a state trooper may be assigned to include: K-9 handler, crime scene/forensics, commercial motor vehicle inspector, and riverboat officer.

“When I was in sixth grade, my older brother joined the Police Explorer volunteer program in Indianapolis,” Hart said. “I was fascinated with everything he was doing, especially the investigation part. From that point on my goal was to have a career in law enforcement.

“Some people thought I couldn’t do it, and many of my friends wondered why I would put myself through such rigorous training,” Hart said. “My dad still worries about my safety today.”

Staying in shape

Hart has always been very athletic. During high school she was involved in cross-country, track, swimming, gymnastics and softball. Today she regularly works out at the local gym, and she is training for a triathlon.

State police officers have to keep in shape because they are required to pass a physical fitness test every year. This test includes such maneuvers as sit-ups, running, arm reaches, and bench presses (based on body weight).

Hart also continues to improve her marksmanship skills. She shoots competitively, and she has qualified for the governor’s list of the top 20 marksmen in Illinois.

Hart admitted that her 26 weeks of police academy training were grueling.

“It’s what I imagine that basic training in the military would be like,” she said. “We had to walk the halls in a straight line and not make eye contact with anyone. We had uniform inspection every day, and all we did was drill, study, sleep and eat.

“After all the work I went through to be admitted to the academy, I wasn’t going to give up at that point,” Hart said. “I knew I was heading into the best career I could ever have.”

Starting salary for a first-year trooper in Illinois is $50,376, and it increases several times during one’s career. A state trooper is eligible for retirement after serving for 26 years and eight months. There are also excellent benefits that come with the job.

Thompson was quick to point out, however, that the job also carries with it a tremendous amount of responsibility and accountability.

A hard job

“Being a state trooper is not an easy job,” Thompson said. “It’s both physically and mentally demanding. There is a lot more procedure to follow, and paperwork, than most people would imagine.”

Also, every interaction that a trooper has with a motorist is videotaped and audiotaped, and then reviewed by his or her supervisor.

“I have the highest respect for every officer out there in the field,” Thompson said.

Hart has worked at a paying job in various offices and eating establishments since she was 14 years old. To prepare for entry into the police academy and a career in law enforcement, she gained experience by volunteering and working in that field.

She volunteered with the Police Explorers and also the civilian volunteer police. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Indiana University in Indianapolis.

Hart then worked in corrections for two years, serving on the quick response team and emergency squad for a state prison. She also served with the Paris police department for nine months.

Admission into the state police academy is very competitive. Hart was one of 72 chosen for the cadet class out of several thousand applicants. Selection is based on scores on the physical fitness test, a written suitability (psychological) test, an oral inter-view and a background check.

After 26 weeks, she completed her training at the Illinois State Police Academy in Springfield. Only 63 members of Hart’s class of 72 graduated as sworn officers. She then completed 12 weeks in the officer field training program before going out on her own.

Gets respect

Hart doesn’t feel that she is treated any differently by her co-workers or by motorists because she is a woman.

“I believe that if a woman officer keeps a professional appearance and demeanor, then she will be treated with respect,” Hart said.

While she’s on duty, Hart carries a handgun, baton, handcuffs, and chemical spray. She also wears a bulletproof vest and large-brim hat — one of the identifying marks of an Illinois state trooper.

She drives the familiar white-and-yellow state police vehicle. When she is not being summoned to a crash site or to some other emergency situation, she is free to assist motorists who are in trouble, or to give tickets to violators. Hart said she gives more tickets for speeding and not wearing a seatbelt than for any other violation.

“Everybody isn’t cut out for law enforcement work,” Hart said, “but it has always been my dream — and I don’t give up on my dreams. This job is important because it’s all about keeping people safe.”

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Stabbed police dog spends time at playfield Friday

The folding knife had a 3 1/2-inch blade. Police said the man holding it was at gunpoint, but kept yelling, “Let’s do this!”

A Taser dropped the suspect, who’d been followed Monday night after allegedly stealing a ball from a Tukwila supermarket. But officers said he kept fighting when the electrical current stopped. A police dog latched onto the back of his head.

Officers said he stabbed the German shepherd’s neck, too quickly for them to stop him. Blood spewed from the dog’s wound.

“I thought he might bleed out and die right there,” his handler, Officer James Sturgill said. “He let out a blood-curdling scream when it happened. And to hear it on audio, it’s rough. � It’s like watching one of your kids get hurt.”

Friday afternoon, Sturgill’s 8-year-old son stood by a Tukwila police car as Gino, with a blue-and-white bandage around his neck, leaped out and ran with a red Frisbee.

It was the first time he’d been to his usual park since the attack. On Thursday, police received word that the nearly dozen stitches in Gino’s neck were healing properly. He hasn’t been skittish, and they expect Gino to return to work July 4.

“It did not hit an artery, did not hit anything vital really,” Sturgill said of the wound. “The amount of blood he lost was the blood in the muscle.”

Sturgill, a nearly seven-year veteran with Tukwila Police and the department’s eighth K9 handler, started patrol with Gino on Nov. 30, 2008.

Born in Germany, Gino was purchased from a kennel owned by an Everett police officer and completed the State Criminal Justice Training Commission-approved 400-hour K9 course before hitting the streets.

His first capture came in January. The Monday incident was his 13th.

“He’s the one that got injured,” Sturgill said, “instead of one of us.”

About 8 p.m., Tukwila police were called to the Tukwila Trading Company in at 3725 S. 144th St., where a man reportedly shoplifted and assaulted a security guard who tried to stop him.

That man, Kevin Randall Pegues, 39, has a history of mental illness, drug dependency, drug dealing and has been a gang member, according to court documents.

This week, he was charged with second-degree assault, fourth-degree assault and harming a police dog — a class C felony.

Pegues jumped over a fence with razor wire and another fence with barbed wire before ending up in an enclosed ball field. Police, who believed he was on drugs, yelled for him to get on the ground, but Pegues yelled challenges to officers, according to court documents.

Sturgill straddled him around his lower back and used his body weight to stabilize Pegues to the ground. Another officer reported having his left foot on Pegues’ back when the Taser cycle ended. Police say he still fought to get up.

After stabbing Gino, police said Pegues made another violent stabbing motion. One of four nearby officers, Jay Seese, shot him twice.

“Even after being shot, Pegues tried getting up and had to be ordered to stay on the ground,” according to a probable-cause statement.

After Gino was stabbed, “that’s what I was most concerned with to tell you the honest-to-God truth,” Sturgill said.

Though police thought Gino might die, the dog was able to walk himself to the police car.

k9ginoSturgill went to a Tukwila vet, but was told he need to go to VCA Five Corners Emergency Veterinary Clinic in Burien.

While at the first clinic, an undercover King County Sheriff’s deputy who heard the report pulled up and asked how he could help.

“He jumped in my driver’s seat and got me to Five Corners in about three minutes,” Sturgill said. A Burien officer was waiting there and held the door open — and Gino ran in himself.

“The vet immediately checked his eyes and checked the wound and said, ‘I think he’s going to be fine,’” said Sturgill, 32. “That’s exactly what I wanted to hear.”

Same with his family.

Though the Tukwila department bought Gino a kennel for Sturgill’s backyard, it was used for only a few months. He now spends each night at the foot of Sturgill’s bed and his 8-year-year-old son, Jacob, said Gino is his best friend.

Sturgill’s wife and 14-year-old daughter, who count Gino as part of the family, were relieved when he was released from the vet about 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Tukwila officers who heard the audio of Gino’s blood-curdling scream were still concerned, so Sturgill brought him in Thursday night.

“He was back to his old ways, barking at everybody,” Sturgill said. “He let everybody know who the tough guy is.”

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Oklahoma SWAT team competition draws police teams from around world

The bullets were real, but the “hostages” at the U.S. Shooting Academy in Tulsa didn’t spill any blood.

Hundreds of police officers have been testing sharpshooting and teamwork in a SWAT team competition that ends today. Squads from across the country and parts of Europe made the trip to Oklahoma for the U.S. National SWAT Championships and were tough opponents for the local teams, said officer Andy Hudgens, a Muskogee police team member.

“The learning curve is straight up. The people here, they’ve got the best training and the best gear,” he said. “You learn a lot by watching them compete.”

Competitors were forced to think on their feet and act as a team, sometimes using unfamiliar equipment in unseasonably hot weather, Hudgens said. The physical toll was compounded because live ammunition was involved, he said.

One challenge involved a simulated gunman who had taken control of a school bus. After a sniper shot him, entry teams swarmed the bus and hauled two dummy victims to safety.

Capt. Chad Farmer, who oversees Muskogee’s team, said the event reinforced training for the squad, which responds to roughly 20 calls a year.

Accuracy became a necessity in the competition after the team mapped its tactical maneuvers, Hudgens said, noting stiff penalties for a missed target.

“Everyone has tactics, but marksmanship is what’s going to make or break a team,” he said.

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Carlisle K-9 police team among nation’s best

Carlisle K-9 officer Ryan Anderson and his canine partner Misty finished in the top 10 at a national drug dog competition earlier this month in Colorado.
Sgt. Anderson and Misty earned ninth place out of more than 50 of the nation’s best drug dogs at the United States Police Canine Association national drug dog detector trial May 31-June 2 in Colorado Springs, Colo. Iowa dogs took six of the top 10 spots, Anderson said.
“You’re pretty much getting the best of the best of drug dogs,” Anderson said. Misty had to search three indoor rooms for two hides in 10 minutes or less as part of the competition. She also had 10 minutes to find two hides in five outdoor vehicles. She was looking for hides that contained heroin, cocaine, marijuana or methamphetamines.

A panel of judges critiqued Misty and Anderson’s search techniques. Her combined time for both searches was just more than 5 minutes. They scored 192.83 points out of 200.
Misty is an 8-year-old black Labrador female. She came from the Iowa Rescue League and was trained by Dennis George owner of Midwest Canine in Des Moines. George and his dog traveled to the competition with Anderson and Misty.

“They did just an awesome job,” George said of Anderson and Misty’s performance. “The dogs that go out to this national certification competition, they’re outstanding dogs, and to finish in the top 10 is just a huge honor for anybody that does that.”
Misty’s high drive to work and Anderson’s dedication to putting in the hours of training makes the pair a good team, George said.
Misty has been with the Carlisle Police Department since June of 2004. Anderson has used her to search cars, homes and schools. Together they have found about $154,000 worth of drugs.

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Law enforcement officers, K-9 partners complete training

Camillus (WSYR-TV) – A group of Onondaga County’s finest is ready to take to the streets — but these graduates have four legs, not two.

Eight police officers and their K-9 partners just completed a ten-week training course to teach the pups how to put their noses to good use.

The officers tell us you can’t rush a good police dog.

“They’re like a little child … you have to be careful with them. You don’t want to push them too hard at first, but then the dog develops,” says Onondaga County Sherriff’s Deputy Vincent Ferrara. “Ernie developed really well – he turned out to be a fine police dog.”

Deputy Vincent Ferrara

Deputy Vincent Ferrara

Others who graduated Thursday came from the Wayne County Sheriff’s office and the Syracuse Police Department.

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K-9 units honor fallen officers

When an officer dies in the line of duty the Arizona Department of Public Safety honors their memory by naming canine officers after them. Many consider the recognition to be a great tribute.

Manny is one such special canine with an important mission

In the year that Manny has been on the  road he’s sniffed out more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana and nearly half a million dollars in cash.

Manny and his k-9 handler Officer Shane Manjarres are determined to get as many drugs off the street as they can.

Officer Shane Manjarres

Officer Shane Manjarres

“I kind of feel what he does, he does it for a purpose, almost like for somebody,” says Manjarres.

That somebody is his namesake Sgt.  Manuel Tapia – killed in the line of duty in 1991.

Ironically, Sgt. Tapia headed the drug task force in Nogales.

“I think it kind of fits, who else should Manny be named after.”

DPS officer Ernie Tofani worked with Sgt. Tapia.

“I believe he’s happy that this dog named after him is trying to fullfil his work he was doing,” says Tofani.

The team works hard at what they do. To get certified as a team they go through 4 weeks of narcotics training, 5 weeks of patrol school and every month after that a minimum of 16 hours are spent on training.

Through it all, Manny is full of energy and always willing, ready, and able to work, continuing the legacy of Manny Tapia.

DPS has been naming their DPS dogs honoring the memory of their fallen officers since 2006.

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