Trooper of the Month

2019 Trooper of the Month

January | Trooper Daniel A. Cole

Congratulations to Trooper Daniel A. Cole for being selected as the recipient for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for January 2019.

On Wednesday, January 16, 2019, Cole observed a traffic crash at the intersection of Park Boulevard and 40th Street North, in Pinellas County. This crash involved a passenger vehicle versus a motorcycle. Cole immediately positioned his patrol vehicle to secure the victim’s safety and assessed the victim’s injuries. Cole called for EMS and identified the fact that both of the victim’s legs had been amputated.  Cole was able to apply a tourniquet to one leg and instructed a bystander to retrieve an additional tourniquet from his patrol vehicle, which he applied to the other leg. Cole stabilized the victim and conversed with him to assist with maintaining consciousness until Pinellas County EMS arrived on the scene. The victim was transported to Bayfront Medical center for treatment for his injuries and ultimately survived. Cole’s quick application of the tourniquets was instrumental in saving the victim’s life.

Due to Cole’s quick thinking and dedication to serving the State of Florida, he saved a life. Cole exemplifies what it is to be a Florida State Trooper and he is to be commended for his actions and prompt response.


February | Trooper Joshua Wright, Trooper Craig Yollertsen

Congratulations to Trooper Joshua Wright and Trooper Craig Yollertsen for being selected as the co-recipients for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for February 2019.

On Saturday, February 23, 2019, Wright and Vollertsen responded to assist the Monticello Police Department (MPD) and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in locating a kidnapping suspect and a female victim who had been taken from a motel against her will. The suspect’s vehicle was located, with fresh blood throughout the backseat of the vehicle. Investigative information determined that the victim may have been dropped off at a location nearby and one of the suspects was with the victim. Wright and Vollertsen arrived to where the suspect was believed to be and observed a fresh blood trail leading from the driveway up the steps and into the house.

Vollertsen entered the home to locate the victim and suspect and found the victim on the bathroom floor with serious injuries. Vollertsen and the MPO cleared the house and located the suspect hiding in a closet. As the MPD Officer approached the suspect he fled the closet and jumped out of a bedroom window. Wright was outside of the residence and pursued the fleeing suspect, who actively resisted and evaded him on foot. Using the least amount of force necessary to capture the suspect, Wright deployed his Taser, however the probes did not connect. Wright continued pursuing the suspect and he was able to effectively deploy the second cartridge, making the suspect fall to the ground.

Once the suspect was secured. Vollertsen returned to the victim and provided medical aid until EMS arrived on scene. The victim went in and out of consciousness from being severely beaten and was unable to speak. The scene was then turned over to Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for investigation and the suspect was turned over to them for charges.

Wright and Vollertsen were instrumental in stopping a violent crime in progress. Vollertsen assisted in recovering the victim and assisting in medical care until the victim could be attended to by emergency medical services, while Wright engaged in a foot pursuit of the suspect and was able to apprehend him. Because of both of their actions, the victim was rescued before she suffered further injuries and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was able to fully investigate and charge the suspect for the violent crime.


March | Trooper Rachel M. Palfy

Congratulations to Trooper Rachel M. Palfy for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for March 2019.

On Monday, March 25, 2019, Palfy was on patrol when she observed a passenger car parked and unattended with the motor running and the windows rolled down. Palfy stopped and got out of her vehicle and saw a male wearing sunglasses, hoodie and gloves crouched down between two vehicles. The subject advised that the vehicle belonged to a friend and he was looking for his buddy’s girlfriend’s apartment. While Palfy was there, she detected a strong odor of raw cannabis from the interior of the vehicle. A second male approached Palfy and advised that the vehicle was his. Due to the odor of narcotics and the males’ suspicious actions, Palfy requested routine back up.

Once back up arrived, Palfy detained both subjects for a narcotics investigation and searched both subjects. Palfy discovered 14 grams of raw cannabis and powder cocaine. Once Palfy arrested the subjects, one made a spontaneous statement about breaking into vehicles in the apartment complex. Upon conducting a probable cause/search incident of the subject’s vehicle, Palfy discovered burglary tools, numerous women’s purses and prescription bottles that did not belong to either of the subjects she had in custody.

Palfy requested assistance from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office not knowing how many vehicle burglaries had occurred or if the Sheriff’s Office had any active investigations. Once they arrived, it was determined that four vehicles were burglarized by the subjects she had detained.

Due to Palfy’s attention to detail and taking quick law enforcement action, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office was able to clear several unsolved vehicle burglaries and the victims were able to get their property returned. Palfy’s actions exemplify what is to be a Florida State Trooper.


April | Trooper Randy Rojas

Congratulations to Trooper Randy Rojas for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for April 2019.

On Sunday, April 7, 2019, Rojas was on patrol when he observed a Road Ranger attending to a distressed male that was suffering from a medical emergency. With the help from the Road Ranger, Rojas removed the male from the driver seat and onto a flat surface. Rojas assessed the subject and determined he had no pulse and was not breathing. Rojas radioed for EMS to respond and began CPR. Rojas continued CPR until Trooper Vanel Pettigny arrived on scene with an AED instrument. The AED pads were positioned on the subject’s chest and the instrument detected a pulse. The AED instrument instructed to continue CPR. Shortly thereafter, Ft. Lauderdale Fire and Rescue arrived and transported the male to Broward General Hospital, where he made a full recovery.

Due to Rojas’ actions, he most likely saved a life. Rojas’s actions exemplify what is to be a Florida State Trooper.


May | Trooper Kimberly Garcia, Trooper Austin Parent

Congratulations to Trooper Kimberly Garcia and Trooper Austin Parent for being selected as co-recipients for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for May 2019.

On Friday, May 31, 2019, Garcia responded to the scene of a two-vehicle crash on State Road 9 and Gateway Boulevard. While conducting the crash investigation, a secondary crash occurred causing a vehicle to travel from the roadway and onto the left inside shoulder. As a result, the Road Ranger assisting Garcia in the crash was struck by the vehicle. Shortly after the crash, Parent arrived on scene. Garcia and Parent immediately performed a quick medical assessment of the Road Ranger. Seeing the Road Ranger had a broken leg and was losing a large amount of blood, Garcia and Parent immediately applied a tourniquet on the leg and stopped the bleeding.

Due to Garcia’s and Parent’s quick, decisive, and lifesaving actions, the Road Ranger survived. Garcia and Parent are true assets to the Florida Highway Patrol and exemplify what it is to be Florida State Troopers.


June | Sergeant Roger Thomas

Congratulations to Sergeant Roger Thomas for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for June 2019.

On Saturday, June 22, 2019, Thomas responded to a vehicle versus pedestrian traffic crash on Phillips Highway and Shad Road, in Duval County. The pedestrian was crossing the road in a non­designated crosswalk and sustained critical injuries during the traffic crash. Due to the female’s critical condition and the lack of ability to determine her identity, Thomas advised the investigating Trooper to attempt to identify the female by utilizing their state issued Rapid ID, which didn’t produce a positive hit. The investigating Trooper also tried to obtain the female’s identity with her fingerprints, but they were not on file in the NCIC/FCIC data base.

Thomas worked beyond his assigned midnight shift for the next few days to identify the female so he could notify her family of her status. Ultimately, Thomas was able to go to the female pedestrian’s mobile phone carrier law enforcement liaison and he was able to contact her aunt. The aunt was able to identify the female as her niece, whom she had raised since she was six months old. The aunt advised Thomas that she was a troubled seventeen-year-old who had a history of running away from home and she was possibly involved with a sex trafficking ring out of Lakeland, Florida.

Shortly after getting off the phone with the aunt, Thomas was contacted by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. They advised Thomas that they were working with the Department of Children and Families and they were collectively investigating the female’s involvement in a sex trafficking ring that was moving young women from city to city around the state of Florida. Thomas contacted the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and coordinated their involvement with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Children and Families.

Thomas performed in an exceptional manner above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the female pedestrian was positively identified, that her aunt was properly notified of her injuries, and her location at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital. Thomas also made it his mission to ensure the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Children and Families, and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office were unified to safeguard the female, while they continued to investigate the criminals that had been exploiting her.

Thomas exemplifies what it is to be a Florida State Trooper and he is commended for a job well done.


July | Trooper Christopher Garrand

Congratulations to Trooper Christopher Garrand for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for July 2019.

On Sunday, July 7, 2019, Garrand responded to a call about a suspicious vehicle parked at the top of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Upon Garrand’s arrival, he was advised that a female driver had a gun and was threatening to kill anyone “who comes closer” to her. At one point during Garrand’s negotiations with her, she attempted to commit “suicide by cop”. She stated “fine, let’s do this, I’m going to shoot you in 3, 2, 1” and then raised her arm abruptly holding an aluminum can. Garrand was able to use great restraint based upon his quick observation that she was not holding a gun and was actually holding an aluminum can. Once the female driver realized Garrand did not shoot her, she made an attempt to jump off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Garrand rushed to her and brought her safely to the ground from the bridge wall.

On Saturday, July 20, 2019, Garrand was dispatched to a hit and run crash where one of the vehicles had been reported stolen. During Garrand’s response to the crash, he was advised a witness was following the vehicle that had fled the scene. When Garrand overtook the vehicle, the driver refused to stop and fled. Garrand initiated a pursuit, which he was able to terminate by using a Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) maneuver. The driver of the vehicle was apprehended on several felony charges.

Garrand performed in an exceptional manner going above and beyond the call of duty to prevent a suicide. In addition, due to Garrand’s quick and decisive actions he was able to catch a felon. Garrand is a true asset to the Florida Highway Patrol and he exemplifies what it is to be a Florida State Trooper.


August | Trooper Bryan Miettinen

Congratulations to Trooper Bryan Miettinen for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for August 2019.

On Wednesday, August 21, 2019, Miettinen was enjoying an afternoon boating with his family and friends. At approximately 2:00 p.m., a loud crash was heard, and Miettinen observed a large group of jet skis. Miettinen responded to the gathering and as his boat got closer, Miettinen observed a male sitting on the back of a jet ski holding another male, that was unconscious. After pulling the unconscious male to his boat and assessing his condition, Miettinen found no pulse. Miettinen removed his life vest and he and one of his guests that was a nurse, began performing chest compressions. Miettinen utilized a two-way radio to summon other emergency personnel. The boat was piloted ashore to meet with the rescue unit and the unconscious male was transferred to them.

Miettinen’s immediate actions and willingness to perform his duty as a First Responder, both on duty and off, reflects the agency’s mission statement of Courtesy, Service and Protection. Miettinen is a true asset to the Florida Highway Patrol and exemplifies what it is to be a Florida State Trooper.


September | Trooper Joseph K. Marcum

Congratulations to Trooper Joseph K. Marcum for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for September 2019.

On Wednesday, September 18, 2019, Marcum was on routine patrol on Scenic Highway near the I-10 overpass, when he observed a male subject who had tied a sheet around his neck and was in the process of tying the other end to the bridge. Marcum attempted to establish a dialog with the individual as he made his approach. The subject stepped over the concrete barrier and made a move to jump over the overpass. Marcum, in an immediate effort to prevent the subject from leaving the bridge, grabbed the subject and struggled with him until he was able to gain control of him and pulled him back over the concrete barrier wall. Marcum then transported him to West Florida Hospital for a psychological evaluation where he was Baker Acted and left in the care of medical professionals.

Marcum’s dedication to the citizens of Florida was demonstrated that day. If Marcum had not been patrolling and cognizant of your surroundings, this incident could have had a different outcome. Marcum is a true asset to the Florida Highway Patrol, and he exemplifies what it is to be a Florida State Trooper.


October | Corporal Rudy Regis

Congratulations to Corporal Rudy Regis for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for October 2019.

On Sunday, October 13, 2019, Regis was providing traffic control and working off-duty police employment at Hard Rock Stadium during a Miami Dolphins game. After the game, a driver experienced a medical emergency and collided with another vehicle and a pedestrian. The driver then drove into a canal and the vehicle became fully submerged under the water. Regis immediately responded and entered the water without hesitation with the help from others present and Lieutenant Luis Darcia. After several attempts, the driver was extricated from the vehicle and taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition.

Regis is to be commended for his immediate response to a significant incident and heroism for entering the canal to save the driver. Regis’ dedication to the citizens of Florida was demonstrated that day. Regis is a true asset to the Florida Highway Patrol, and he exemplifies what it is to be a Florida State Trooper.


November | Trooper Angel Luna

Congratulations to Trooper Angel Luna for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for November 2019.

On Sunday, November 10, 2019, Luna was flagged down by a female. She advised Luna that her house was on fire and her son was still inside the residence. As Luna approached the front of the house, he realized due to the intensity of the flames, he could not enter from there. Luna went to the rear of the house and located a window to the son’s bedroom. Luna was able to break the window and began to call the boy’s name, giving him verbal commands until he made his way to the window where he was waiting. Luna assisted him out of the window and helped him to safety away from the residence. Luna administered first aid for minor injuries and stayed with the boy until Escambia County Fire Department and Emergency Medical Service arrived.

Due to Luna’s quick and unselfish actions, he saved the boy’s life. Luna is to be commended for his immediate response to a significant incident. Luna’s dedication to the citizens of Florida was demonstrated that day. Luna is a true asset to the Florida Highway Patrol, and he exemplifies what it is to be a Florida State Trooper.