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2001 to 2007

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Colonel Christopher A. Knight

Colonel John T. Czernis

FHP Director Colonel Christopher Allen Knight

Colonel Christopher Allen Knight, is a 20-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol. A graduate of Venice High School, he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology from Florida State University in 1979. Colonel Knight is also a graduate of the 171st Session of the FBI National Academy, the 2nd Session of the North Carolina State University Administrative Officers Management Program, and the 20th Session of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Chief Executive Seminar.

Colonel Knight was a member of the Florida Highway Patrol's 61st Recruit Class. He was elected President of his recruit class, and graduated with High Academic Honors. After receiving his initial training at the FHP Academy, he began his career as a Trooper in Naples, and later served in Venice. Colonel Knight has progressed up through the ranks of the Patrol, and has been stationed in Miami, Bradenton, Palatka, and Tallahassee in various positions, including Commander of Troop H, Tallahassee, and Chief of Training at the FHP Academy.

Colonel Knight is a member of the State Law Enforcement Chiefs Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Florida Sheriffs Association, and the Florida Police Chiefs Association.

On June 29, 2001, Mr. Fred Dickinson, Executive Director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, announced that Colonel Knight was being appointed as Director of the Florida Highway Patrol effective July 2, 2001.

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FHP Takes Delivery of 200 Camaros

The Florida Highway Patrol will begin taking delivery of 200 new Chevrolet Camaro patrol cars in 2002. In addition to the installation of the radio system and new low profile Whelen light bars, each trooper who will be issued the high performance patrol car must complete a five-hour familiarization class on the handling, braking and acceleration of the 310 horsepower vehicle.

The Chevrolet Camaro is powered by a 5.7L engine, which according to tests performed by Michigan State Police, pushes the Chevrolet Camaro to a top speed of 159 miles per hour. The Camaro is also able to achieve a speed of 100 miles per hour from a stopped position in only 13.93 seconds while the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor takes 24.61 seconds.

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Mobile Data Terminals

In early 2003, every FHP trooper will have a Compaq laptop computer installed in his or her patrol car. These Mobile Data Terminals or MDT's as they are called will soon be able to execute electronic citation issuance and transmittal, in addition to checking the status of a violator’s license and tag. Troopers are excited about the MDT’s because it took many years to bring this project into reality. Once again, FHP is a leader in this area and other state patrols are closely monitoring FHP’s progress.

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Regional Communication Centers

The new Tampa and Jacksonville Regional Communications Centers will be completed by the end of June 2002. The Tallahassee Regional Communications Center will be completed mid July 2002. Modifications are being done in Orlando to the Communications Center to accommodate additional dispatch and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) positions for monitoring roadside cameras. The new Miami Communications Center is under constructions and will be completed some time in early 2003. It will be a joint FDOT - Regional Communications Center with 18 positions. Miami currently has nine.

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FHP Receives Florida Accreditation

On Wednesday, May 22, 2002, the Florida Highway Patrol was awarded comparative compliance accreditation by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CFA). This accreditation builds upon the Patrol's current national accreditation and is based upon issues specific to the State of Florida.

Achieving dual accredited status (CALEA and CFA) further demonstrates the Patrol's commitment to excellence in all aspects of agency operations.

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Troopers Rescue Victims, Investigate Amtrak Derailment

On Thursday, April 18, 2002, an Amtrak passenger train traveling from Sanford, Florida to Lorton, Virginia derailed south of Palatka, near the town of Crescent City. Within minutes of the mishap, troopers from Troop "G" were on the scene rescuing many of the approximately 166 injured passengers. Troopers Luis Rios and Larry McKenzie crawled inside derailed and overturned railroad cars to tend to the injured. Soon after the crash dozens of other troopers from troop "G" and nearby Volusia County were on the scene working with EMS, local law enforcement, and civilian volunteers. After several hours, all train passengers and crew were rescued and relocated to area hospitals and/or shelters. The FHP then began the complicated task of beginning an investigation into the deaths of 4 of the passengers, pending the arrival of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). With the assistance of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement, troopers secured the scene and began collecting evidence, identifying the over 450 passengers and crew, and making notification to next-of-kin. Upon the arrival of the NTSB, FHP personnel continued to assist the Federal agency with their complex investigation.

Personnel from all of troop "G" were used in the response to this significant event and personnel from the Deland and Gainesville districts of troops "D" and "B" assisted them. Overall both local law enforcement and the NTSB recognized the excellent response by the FHP.

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FHP Launches Pasco Project

On Friday, April 5, 2002, Colonel Chris Knight hosted a news conference at the Land O’ Lakes FHP station to announce a pilot project in Pasco County that will assess the effectiveness of a nationally recognized law enforcement staffing formula the Patrol has used for many years. A total of 14 new troopers were introduced to Pasco County, which effectively increases the FHP strength to capacity at 37 troopers, according to the staffing formula. Shown standing with Colonel Knight at the news conference is Pasco County Sheriff Bob White and the 14 new troopers who reported for duty.

The goal of the Pasco Project is to:

  1. Reduce response times to traffic crashes and other calls for service
  2. Reduce fatalities
  3. Increase the percentage of time a trooper actually engages in proactive patrol
  4. Increase traffic enforcement efforts, including the arrest of motorists for driving under the influence
  5. Effectively staff selective enforcement details
  6. Increase coverage of patrol zones, and
  7. Effectively handle all traffic-related calls for service. The Patrol will track a number of activities in Pasco County for a full year to determine if the staffing formula is valid and specific goals are achieved. If the pilot project is successful, subsequent requests to the Florida Legislature for additional troopers in other counties throughout the state would then be justifiable.

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Transition Recruit School

In order to expedite the filling of vacancies within the trooper ranks of the Patrol, a new 10-week transition recruit school began on March 4, 2002, for those applicants who possess Florida law enforcement certification. Colonel Chris Knight appointed twenty men and women for this history-making event. After graduation, each of the new troopers were returned to their "home" county to begin their new career. This eliminates the need for these individuals to go through the entire 26-week basic recruit program for all other applicants. The next transition academies will begin on January 6, 2003 and July 7, 2003. For additional information on career opportunities within the FHP, please visit http://www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/Career/

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Lieutenant Colonel John T. Czernis

In September, 2007, Lt. Colonel John Czernis was appointed Interim Director for the Florida Highway Patrol, succeeding Colonel Christopher Knight who resigned his position. Lt. Colonel Czernis was named Director of the FHP, December 1, 2007. The appointment was made by Electra Bustle, Executive Director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

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