Member Recognition

2008 Troopers of the Month

January | Sergeant James E. Crawley

Congratulations to Sergeant James E. Crawley for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for January 2008. Sergeant Crawley’s quick thinking and prudent actions likely prevented a suspect from avoiding prosecution.

On January 16, 2008, Sgt. Crawley appeared in court to testify on a traffic summons he issued. The defendant advised the court that someone had used his name during the traffic stop.

Sgt Crawley compared the defendant’s fingerprint to the one on the citation and discovered that it did not match. He determined the probable suspect’s name and proceeded to locate him. As he checked the suspect’s past, Sgt. Crawley found he was wanted on three felony warrants: Aggravated Battery, Uttering a Forged Instrument, and Burglary of a Structure. He also found the suspect was wanted for Statutory Rape in the State of Missouri. The suspect was apprehended as he attempted to flee through his apartment window. Sgt. Crawley arrested him without incident, booked him into the Palm Beach County Jail, and there he awaits extradition to Missouri.

Sergeant Crawley’s actions made a difference by preventing this suspects avoiding apprehension. He is hereby commended for his brave and prudent actions, and congratulated for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for January 2008


February | Trooper Gerald Leandre

Congratulations to Trooper Gerald Leandre for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for February 2008. Trooper Leandre’s quick thinking and appropriate actions led to the apprehension of two suspects, one of them armed, and the recovery of stolen property.

On February 13, 2008, Trooper Gerald Leandre observed a white Ford Crown Victoria with emergency lights on the front windshield. It appeared to be an unmarked police vehicle. Trooper Leandre observed the passenger throw what appeared to be a black bag into a nearby canal. A computer check of the vehicle tag revealed the vehicle was privately owned.

Trooper Leandre activated his emergency equipment in order to stop the vehicle, which fled in an attempt to elude him. He pursued until the vehicle turned into a residential neighborhood at which time he terminated attempts to stop the vehicle. A few moments later he saw the vehicle enter a public parking lot. The driver exited the automobile and was taken into custody by Trooper Leandre. The passenger was not in the vehicle, but a witness saw the passenger jump out of the vehicle earlier and gave a description. The passenger was also apprehended several minutes later.

Later it was discovered that both subjects had committed an armed robbery. The victim stated that she had just made a cash withdrawal of $2,400 and had stopped to refuel her vehicle. One of the subjects entered the vehicle with a handgun and demanded the cash from her, advising that she stay quiet or be killed. The subject then exited her vehicle with the cash in a black bag and fled the scene in the white Ford Crown Victoria, which she thought was a police vehicle.

Upon further inspection of the subject vehicle it was discovered that the blue and red lights on the dash were operational and a pair of handcuffs were on the spot light handle. The vehicle also had a prisoner partition installed and dark tint on the windows.

The black bag was retrieved from the canal and was identified by the victim as the stolen bag, and the $2,400 was recovered from the pant pocket of the passenger.

Trooper Gerald Leandre, acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol. He is commended for his brave and prudent actions, and is congratulated for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month.


March | Trooper Christopher Powers

Congratulations to Trooper Christopher Powers for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for March 2008. Trooper Powers observations and appropriate actions led to the seizure of over 3 million in counterfeit merchandise.

On March 9, 2008, Trooper Christopher Powers initiated a traffic stop on a semi-tractor and trailer for unlawful speed.

During the traffic stop he reviewed the driver’s logbook and bills of lading and discovered discrepancies and inconsistent statements made by the driver. Trooper Powers requested his Sergeant’s assistance regarding the information obtained and after review, it was agreed Powers should request the assistance of the Florida Department of Motor Carrier Compliance and a K-9 unit to respond to the scene.

The Florida Department of Motor Carrier Compliance and a K-9 unit from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. Trooper Powers obtained consent to search the semi-tractor and trailer. In his search he found suspicious freight, consisting of boxes wrapped in packing tape which had been hand loaded onto the trailer. Further search revealed that the suspicious freight contained possible counterfeit merchandise. Trooper Powers wisely requested the assistance of the U.S. Customs Service, who responded to the scene and gave an initial assessment that the freight was counterfeit merchandise. The semi-tractor and trailer were moved to the U.S. Customs Service’s warehouse, where the contents of the trailer were inspected and inventoried.

During the course of the inventory of the counterfeit merchandise, counterfeit U.S. currency was also discovered and turned over to the U.S. Secret Service. The counterfeit merchandise was valued at $3,098,339. The seizure of the counterfeit merchandise led to the arrest of the driver for possession and transportation of counterfeit merchandise.

Trooper Christopher Powers acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol. He is commended for his prudent actions, and is congratulated for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for March, 2008.


April | Corporal Donnie Pitts

Congratulations to Corporal Donnie Pitts for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for April 2008, for his actions at the scene of a traffic crash with serious injuries and fatalities.

On April 5, 2008, while Corporal Pitts was assisting another trooper with a traffic crash on State Road 8 in Madison County, he heard another crash about a mile east of his location. He immediately notified dispatch and responded to the scene to render aid. He came upon a single car crash with five occupants. The driver and front seat passenger received minor injuries and were able to get out of the vehicle on their own. However, the three child passengers needed his help. Corporal Pitts removed the first child who received minor injuries, and attempted to a help the other two children who were unconscious with serious injuries. One of the children had no pulse.

After calling for back up, Corporal Pitts removed the children from the vehicle and began CPR on the child with no heartbeat, continuing his efforts for 40 minutes until EMS arrived. Unfortunately, the two children succumbed to their serious injuries despite all efforts to save them.

Corporal Pitts showed enormous determination trying to save the lives of these two children. His dedication to his job duties speaks volumes about his commitment to public service. He demonstrated a command presence at the scene of a terrible crash, and offered the occupants the best chance of survival under very trying circumstances. He is hereby commended for his excellent police work and for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for April 2008.


May | Lieutenant Kenneth Boatright

Congratulations to Lt. Kenneth Boatright for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for May 2008, for his diligent efforts in apprehending an armed robber during a traffic stop.

On May 20, 2008, Lt. Boatright responded to a BOLO for an armed suspect who had committed a home invasion and grand theft in the Zephyrhills area as well as armed robbery in Marion and Alachua counties. Upon locating the suspect, Lt. Boatright conducted a traffic stop. He then held the suspect at gun point until back up arrived. He arrested the suspect who was armed with a .25 caliber pistol, which he had removed from the suspect’s front pocket. Thanks to Lt. Boatright’s quick police work, the suspect was charged with 3 counts of Armed Robbery, Carrying a Concealed Firearm, Grant Theft, DUI, DWLSR – Habitual Offender, Possession of Marijuana, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Lt. Boatright acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is commended for his prudent actions and congratulated for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for May 2008.


June | Sergeant David Powell

Congratulations to Sergeant David Powell for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for June 2008, for his quick life-saving actions.

On June 3, 2008, while Sgt. Powell was working off-duty in Lakeland, he observed night managers carrying a female employee who had passed out while working. While waiting for EMS to arrive, he noticed that the female victim had stopped breathing. When Sgt. Powell discovered that she no longer had a pulse, he quickly began CPR. After he performed several rescue breaths and chest compressions, the victim began to breathe on her own. Sgt. Powell remained with the victim until the paramedics arrived to transport her to the hospital.

Sgt. Powell acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is commended for his prudent actions and congratulated for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for June 2008.


August | Sergeant Brannon Snead

Congratulations to Sergeant Brannon M. Snead for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for August 2008, for his quick actions in two incidents; one that involved a lady who caused a disturbance in a local business and the other that led to the apprehension of four suspects in an armed carjacking.

On August 1, 2008, Sgt. Snead responded to a disturbance at a business in Gadsden County. Inside the gas station, a female subject had stolen several items and took them to her vehicle. She returned to the store and began knocking clothing racks onto the floor, then attempted to cut her wrist with a broken coffee mug. The subject, who suffers from severe depression, had made threats to take her own life. Sgt. Snead talked with the subject and calmed her down, taking her into custody under the Baker Act.

On August 3, 2008, Sgt. Snead received a BOLO (Be on the Look Out) in reference to a vehicle that had been stolen in a carjacking. The suspects were reportedly in possession of a large semi-automatic handgun. At 12:50 a.m., Sgt. Snead was driving east on State Road 90 approaching Capital Circle SW in Leon County when he saw four young black males run across the westbound lanes of US 90. They appeared to match the description of the subjects in the carjacking BOLO. As Sgt. Snead drove past them they hid behind a large oak tree and watched as he passed, looking to see if he turned around. As Sgt. Snead stopped for the red light at Capital Circle SW, he watched in his mirror and saw the subjects run behind a roadside hotel. Because the young males matched the description of the subjects in the carjacking, Sgt. Snead turned around and drove into the motel’s rear parking lot.

As he was driving through the parking lot he saw four young males attempting to get inside a vehicle that matched the BOLO of the car stolen in the carjacking. As Sgt. Snead approached, the subjects ran from the vehicle. Sgt. Snead identified himself as a state trooper and ordered them to stop. Sgt. Snead was able to apprehend one of the suspects and take him into custody. The suspect was identified, and a check of the vehicle revealed that it had been stolen in the carjacking. The Tallahassee Police Department was requested to respond to the scene. The subject was charged with armed carjacking with a firearm, resisting an officer without violence, and trespassing in a conveyance. His accomplices were subsequently arrested and were also charged.

Sergeant Snead is commended on his quick actions, excellent police work, and his commitment to keeping the people of Florida safe. Congratulations!


September | Trooper Michael Simmons

Congratulations to Trooper Michael D. Simmons for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for September 2008, for his quick thinking and prudent actions while assisting a Wakulla County deputy during the apprehension of an armed suspect.

On September 15, 2008, Trooper Simmons was on patrol in Wakulla County. He overheard on the Wakulla County Sheriff’s office radio that a burglary had occurred at a service station in Crawfordville and the suspect vehicle was headed northbound on US 319. Trooper Simmons was north of Crawfordville and started driving south. He heard Wakulla County Deputy Wheeler advise that he was stopping the vehicle in the parking lot of a retail center. The vehicle stopped and then fled from Deputy Wheeler northbound on US 319. At the same time Trooper Simmons heard Lt. Johnston of Wakulla County say that the suspect was probably armed because the service station had been “shot-up” with a shotgun.

As Trooper Simmons was still going south, Deputy Wheeler advised that the vehicle had crashed at a local country store. Trooper Simmons was approaching the area when he saw the suspect vehicle re-enter US 319 northbound. As the vehicle approached Trooper Simmons, the driver swerved into his lane in an attempt to hit him and continued on northbound. Deputy Wheeler was alone, and knowing that the suspect was possibly armed, Trooper Simmons assisted in pursuing the suspect. The suspect continued north on US 319 to Oak Ridge Road where he turned right and drove east. During the eastbound pursuit on Oak Ridge Road the suspect fired several shots. Trooper Simmons and Deputy Wheeler did not return fire. The suspect turned south onto Moore Woods Circle and drove at a high rate of speed. The suspect vehicle ran into a tree and became inoperable. The suspect exited the vehicle with a silver handgun in his hand. Trooper Simmons and Deputy Wheeler had their weapons drawn and ordered the suspect to drop his weapon. The suspect slipped and fell, and as he got up he threw the handgun to his side and ran into the woods. Deputy Wheeler ran after the subject while Trooper Simmons cleared the vehicle for additional subjects. He saw a shotgun in the vehicle, but finding no one else in the vehicle he ran into the woods to assist Deputy Wheeler. Deputy Wheeler had the subject on the ground but the subject was actively resisting his arrest. Trooper Simmons assisted Deputy Wheeler in taking the subject into custody. Trooper Simmons and Deputy Wheeler returned to the scene of the crash and secured the empty shotgun in the vehicle and the handgun the subject had thrown away.

The suspect was a juvenile who was under the influence of Zanax and marijuana. He had stolen the guns, car and money from relatives. He broke into the service station using the shotgun to gain entry and then randomly fired the weapon inside the station.

Trooper Simmons is commended on his quick actions, excellent police work, and his commitment to keeping the people of Florida safe. Congratulations!


October | Trooper Joshua Earrey

Congratulations to Trooper Joshua G. Earrey for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for October 2008, for his swift and determined actions that resulted in the apprehension and arrest of a suspect who had just committed an armed carjacking.

On Friday, October 17, 2008, at approximately 8:10 a.m., Trooper Earrey was travelling to K-9 training in Jacksonville, when he observed a yellow SUV enter Normandy Boulevard from a grocery store parking lot. He noticed that the driver of the yellow SUV was travelling in a very reckless manner when exiting the parking lot, which gave rise to his suspicion that the driver may have been involved in other criminal activity.

Trooper Earrey activated his emergency lights and siren in an attempt to stop the driver. The driver failed to stop and continued eastbound on Normandy Boulevard for a short distance before turning into a residential neighborhood. Trooper Earrey turned off his emergency equipment, but continued northbound in the neighborhood to watch for the vehicle. As he observed the vehicle turning into the parking lot of an elementary school, he traveled to the rear of the school where he saw the driver flee from the yellow SUV on foot. Trooper Earrey exited his patrol vehicle and pursued the suspect through a wooded area on foot and apprehended him without incident.

Trooper Earrey was in contact with FHP communications as the incident unfolded. When officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) arrived, it was discovered that the suspect had just carjacked the vehicle at gunpoint from a female and her small child. It was also learned that the suspect had fled from JSO officers just prior to his contact with you. JSO officers advised Trooper Earrey that the suspect had committed the carjacking using a handgun. However, the weapon was not located on the suspect when Trooper Earrey took him into custody.

After learning that a pistol had been used to commit the carjacking, Trooper Earrey conducted a search of the wooded area where the suspect had fled on foot. He located a revolver in a ditch where the suspect had travelled during the foot pursuit. The victim responded to the scene and identified the 14 year-old juvenile suspect as the perpetrator of the crime. It was also determined that the firearm had been reported stolen. The suspect was turned over to JSO for follow-up investigation and charges.

Trooper Earrey is to be commended for his excellent police work and dedication, which is in the best tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol. Congratulations to Trooper Earrey for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month!


November | Trooper Kamelle Smith and Trooper Debra Teague

Congratulations to Troopers Kamelle Smith and Debra Teague for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Troopers of the Month for November 2008, for their courage and determination while assisting a crash victim.

On November 28, 2008, Troopers Smith and Teague were dispatched to a two vehicle crash on the southbound side of State Road 91 in the vicinity of mile-marker 179. One of the vehicles traveled into a canal filled with water and mud and began to float on the surface. The vehicle was occupied by a 79 year old male driver. Trooper Smith and Trooper Teague entered the canal up to chest deep water-mud, made contact with the driver through the vehicle’s passenger door, and assisted him to safety on the grass shoulder. Trooper Smith and Trooper Teague demonstrated courage and determination by physically removing the driver from a dangerous environment and getting him to safety.

Troopers Smith and Teague are commended for their excellent police work and dedication, which exemplifies the best tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol. Congratulations for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Troopers of the Month!


December | Trooper Richard Elliott

Congratulations to Trooper Richard Elliott for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for December 2008 for his attempts to save a citizen from a burning house.

On December 30, 2008, Trooper Elliott was at the Florida Highway Patrol station in Quincy when he heard on the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office radio about a house fire on Woodbury Road. Trooper Elliott knew that Woodbury Road was across from the station and he responded. When he arrived at the residence he saw flames coming from the rear of the house and two males trying unsuccessfully to kick in the front door. Trooper Elliott was told that an elderly man may be inside the residence. Trooper Elliott told the two men trying to kick the door in to step back and Trooper Elliott was able to kick the front door in.

Trooper Elliott could see thick black smoke in the living room and he yelled several times but received no response from anyone inside. Trooper Elliott tried to crawl into the living room to try and locate anyone inside but had to retreat due to the smoke and heat. Trooper Elliott ran to his patrol car and got a towel to put over his face and attempted to enter the house again. The smoke, heat and exploding glass forced Trooper Elliott to retreat again.

The Gadsden County Fire Department arrived and extinguished the fire. After the fire was extinguished fire department personnel searched the house and found the body of an elderly gentleman in a closed closet in the front bedroom.

Trooper Elliott is to be commended for his brave actions and his commitment to the citizens of the State of Florida.


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