Virginia State Police


RICHMOND – Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent, announced Friday, Aug. 5, 2016, the retirement of current Deputy Superintendent, Lt. Colonel Robert B. Northern. Also announced Friday was the appointment of Lt. Colonel Tracy S. Russillo to the position of second in command of the Department.

Lt. Col. Northern has served as the Deputy Superintendent for the past 11 years, since being appointed by Col. Flaherty in July 2005. During his 36 years with the Department, Northern has served in many capacities including:  Deputy Director of the Bureau of Field Operations; division commander of the Culpeper Bureau of Field Operations (BFO) Headquarters; lieutenant and staff assistant to the Director of BFO; First sergeant in the Hanover/Henrico Area 1 Office; Sergeant in the Bowling Green Area 44 Office; and as a trooper stationed in Fredericksburg Area 5 Office and in Area 1.  He also served seven years on the Executive Protection Unit, which provides security for the Governors of Virginia and their families.  From 1990 until 1993, he was assigned to the Governor’s Office to coordinate Virginia’s anti-drug programs. Northern’ s retirement is effective Sept. 1, 2016.

“I would first like to thank Colonel Flaherty for providing me with the opportunity over the last 11 years to serve as Deputy Superintendent,” said Northern. “Nothing has made me more proud over the years or given me any more satisfaction than being a Virginia State Trooper. Since 1951, my father and I have served the Department, and I hate to see that legacy come to a close. But, now is the opportunity for me and my family to pursue new adventures, and for the State Police to progress towards the future with talented, new leadership.”

Lt. Col. Northern is an Emporia-Greensville Native and a 1975 graduate of Greensville County High School.

Replacing Northern will be the current Bureau of Administrative Staff and Support (BASS) Director, Lt. Colonel Russillo. Flaherty promoted her to the position of BASS Director Dec. 25, 2015. Russillo, a native of Fredericksburg, joined the Department May 16, 1989. Her first patrol assignment as a trooper was in Spotsylvania County Area 5 Office and she spent an additional two years patrolling Culpeper County Area 15 Office. As she progressed through the VSP ranks, Russillo has served as an Academy sergeant in Richmond and area commander of the Winchester Area 13 Office before she was promoted to field lieutenant in the Culpeper Division. In 2008, she achieved the rank of captain serving as the Fairfax Division commander in the Northern Virginia region. Russillo was promoted to major in 2011 following her appointment as BASS Deputy Director.

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July is Vehicle Theft Prevention Month

As auto thefts spike in summer, the VSP HEAT program reminds motorists to take a layered approach to auto theft prevention

RICHMOND, Va.— July is Vehicle Theft Prevention Month, an opportune time for the Virginia State Police Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) program to remind motorists to take their keys or take their chances.

According to the 2015 Crime in Virginia report, 40 percent of the 8,103 motor vehicle thefts reported to VSP in 2015 occurred between June and September. July had the most motor vehicle thefts (909), with August (879), September (746) and June (721) following closely behind.

The consensus among law enforcement is that a significant number of vehicles reported stolen have the keys inside. The HEAT program teaches a three-layered approach to auto theft prevention, and taking your keys is part of Layer 1. While this advice may seem like common sense to many, it’s a recommendation that often falls on deaf ears.

“You should never leave keys in an unattended vehicle,” said First Sgt. Steve Hall, HEAT program coordinator said. “You’d be amazed at the number of people who walk away from their vehicles, engines running, windows down. You want to make it more difficult for thieves, not easier.”

HEAT Special Agent Peter Lazear agrees. “Put as many barriers as you can between yourself and a potential theft,” he said. “After taking your keys, Layer 2 encourages motorists to install audible or visible deterrents, such as VIN etching.”

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) etching is a process in which a vehicle’s 17-digit, federally assigned VIN is permanently marked into a vehicle’s exterior auto glass.

“The theory with VIN etching,” Lazear said, “is if someone were to steal your car, they couldn’t sell it for parts until removing or replacing the auto glass, which can be costly.”

The HEAT program conducts several no-cost VIN etching events each year. Find a list of events at

The final layer of auto theft prevention encourages motorists to use technology, including immobilizing and tracking devices, to aid in prevention.

“There’s a lot of technology readily available,” Lazear said. “And just the thought that you might have a tracking device on your car could deter a thief.”



RICHMOND – Five drivers, a motorcyclist, a teenage passenger and a pedestrian died in seven traffic crashes across Virginia over the Fourth of July weekend, according to preliminary reports. The 2016 July Fourth statistical counting period began at 12:01 a.m., Friday, July 1, 2016, and concluded midnight Monday, July 4, 2016. The fatal crashes occurred in the cities of Chesapeake and Roanoke, and the counties of Albemarle, Buckingham, Chesterfield, Lunenburg and Sussex. The double fatality occurred in the City of Chesapeake.

During the Fourth of July holiday, Virginia State Police increased patrols as part of Operation CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), a state-sponsored, national program intended to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speed and failing to wear a seat belt. From July 1st through July 4th, Virginia troopers arrested 106 drunk drivers, and cited 9,469 speeders and 2,590 reckless drivers. Troopers also cited 821 individuals for failing to wear a seat belt and 360 motorists for child safety seat violations during the four-day statistical counting period.

State police assisted 3,285 motorists and investigated 947 traffic crashes statewide.

Funds generated from summonses issued by Virginia State Police go directly to court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which benefits public school construction, technology funding and teacher retirement.

“State police will continue its concerted efforts during the summer months to reinforce the need for all motorists to drive to save lives on Virginia’s highways,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “To date, 345 lives have been lost to traffic crashes statewide. Let’s turn that devastating statistic around and work together through compliance, education and enforcement to save that many lives in the coming weeks.”

All drivers are encouraged to comply with posted speed limits, buckle up, avoid distractions while driving and to never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. #DrivetoSaveLives

Previous July 4th Fatality Statistics*:



# of Days
















   *Traffic Crash Facts, VA Highway Safety Office, DMV              

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Concealed Handgun Permit Reciprocity & Background Criminal History Checks for Private Sales

RICHMOND – Among the many new laws going into effect July 1, 2016, will be two that impact Virginia concealed handgun permit holders and those engaging in private firearms transactions at Virginia gun shows.

Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit Reciprocity and Recognition: As of July 1, 2016, the Commonwealth of Virginia will recognize all valid concealed handgun or concealed weapon permits and licenses issued by another state (to include the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands) provided the following requirements are met:

1.    The holder of such permit or license is at least 21 years of age; and

2.    The permit or license holder carries a photo identification issued by a government agency of any state or by the U.S. Department of Defense or U.S. Department of State; and

3.    The holder displays the permit or license and such identification upon demand by a law-enforcement officer; and

4.    The permit or license holder has not previously had a Virginia concealed handgun permit revoked.

Although the new law requires Virginia to grant recognition to all states that issue permits, other states are not required to recognize or authorize Virginia permit holders to possess a firearm in their state. For more information on which states recognize Virginia resident and non-resident concealed handgun permits, please go to the Virginia State Police Website at

Voluntary Criminal Background Checks for Private Transactions at Virginia Firearms Shows: Also effective July 1, 2016, is the opportunity for those privately buying or transferring firearm(s) at a gun show in Virginia to request a criminal background check on the buyer. Code of Virginia 54.1-4201.2 enacted by the 2016 Virginia General Assembly requires the Department of State Police to be available at every firearms show held in the Commonwealth to make, upon request, determinations in accordance with Code of Virginia 18.2-308.2:2 of whether a prospective purchaser or transferee is prohibited under state or federal law from possession of a firearm in private transactions. A background check in a private sale ensures that the gun is transferred only to a person lawfully eligible to possess firearms and provides evidence to the seller of diligence to protect against the illegal transfer of firearms.

Participation in these background checks is strictly optional and based upon agreement entered into by the firearms seller and recipient. Additional state police personnel will be set up on-site at firearms shows to provide the background check for a fee of $2. The recipient will be required to complete a form attesting to their eligibility to possess firearms and present one, valid, government-issued photo ID (i.e. driver’s license, Virginia Identification card) or military documentation. The background check verification conducted through the Virginia Firearms Transaction Center takes approximately three minutes to complete.

For additional information on one’s eligibility to purchase a firearm in the Commonwealth, please go to

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RICHMOND – The public will have an opportunity to offer comments regarding the Virginia State Police when a national accreditation team arrives in Richmond in July to assess the Department. The Virginia State Police are in the process of reaccreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA).

“Accreditation provides both the Department and the public with quality assurance that the State Police is in step with today’s policing standards and practices,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “We welcome the CALEA assessment team and the public’s input concerning this process and our abilities to fulfill our mission to serve and protect the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

When the Virginia State Police achieved its initial accreditation from CALEA in 1986, the Department was the second state law enforcement agency in the nation to receive this prestigious award.  Since then, the Virginia State Police has successfully maintained an accredited status. The reaccreditation process takes place every three years.

The public is invited to share its comments with the CALEA on-site assessment team at a Public Information Session Aug. 1, 2016, at 6 p.m. at the Virginia State Police Academy located at 7700 Midlothian Turnpike in North Chesterfield County, Va.

If for some reason an individual cannot speak at the public information session, but would still like to provide comments to the assessment team, he/she may do so by telephone or written correspondence.  The two-member assessment team will be available to take phone calls Aug. 1, 2016, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. A toll-free telephone number has been established for those wishing to contact the team: 1-866-468-4903. Telephone comments, as well as appearances at the public information session, are limited to 10 minutes and must address the Department’s ability to comply with CALEA standards.

Those wishing to offer written comments about the Department’s ability to meet reaccreditation standards are requested to write: Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite 320, Gainesville, Virginia 20155.

The CALEA on-site assessment team is comprised of the following law enforcement practitioners:  Mr. Gerald Bailey, Commissioner (retired) of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and Lt. Raymond Cornford, (retired) of the Rapid City, S.D., Police Department.

Through the review of written materials, interviews and site visits, the assessors will examine the Department’s policy and procedures, administration, operations, and support services for compliance with CALEA standards. The assessment process ensures that the Department regularly reviews all aspects of its operations and is in compliance with law enforcement standards established by the Commission.

A copy of the CALEA standards can be viewed by the public at the State Police Administrative Headquarters at 7700 Midlothian Turnpike in North Chesterfield County.  For those with additional questions, please contact Ms. Vanessa Casale, Virginia State Police Accreditation Manager, at 804-674-2755.

CALEA was created in 1979 to develop a set of law enforcement standards and to establish and administer an accreditation process through which law enforcement agencies could demonstrate voluntarily that they meet professionally-recognized criteria for excellence in management and service delivery.

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 RICHMOND, Va. – Those working alongside Virginia’s highways this summer are hoping two new campaigns will help remind motorists to think “move over” when they see blue, red and yellow flashing lights alongside the road. New billboards and a public service announcement (PSA) targeted in the Hampton Roads and Metro-Richmond regions, respectively, coincide with Governor Terry McAuliffe’s 2014 designation of June as Virginia’s “Move Over Awareness Month.” Nationwide the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) reports 134 law enforcement personnel, between 2005 and 2014, were struck and killed by a vehicle while on-duty.  As of June 5, 2016, the NLEOMFreports 14 law enforcement officers have been killed in traffic-related incidents this year.

Monday morning (June 6, 2016), Virginia State Police Superintendent, Col. W. Steven Flaherty, joined the City of Hampton Fire and Rescue, City of Hampton Police, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), AAA Tidewater and GB Towing and Auto Repair to unveil the new “Move Over” billboard campaign. During the entire month of June, the ads will rotate among Adams Outdoor Advertising billboards along I-64, I-264, I-664 and U.S. Route 58 and reach more than half-a-million motorists living, working, visiting and traveling through the Hampton Roads region.

Beginning June 3, 2016, through the end of the month, members of Hanover County Fire and EMS, Henrico County Police, New Kent County Sheriff’s Office, New Kent County Fire and EMS, VDOT, Virginia State Police and AAA Mid-Atlantic will be sharing the silver screen in theatres across the Metro-Richmond region to also increase awareness of Virginia’s “Move Over” law. The 30-second special public service announcement(PSA) is running in the pre-show before each feature presentation in the following theaters: The Bow Tie Movieland at Boulevard Square (Richmond), Carmike Ovation (Midlothian), Regal Short Pump Stadium 14 (Henrico), Regal Southpark Mall 16 (Colonial Heights), and Regal Virginia Center Stadium 20 (Glen Allen).

“The safety of Virginia’s emergency responders, safety services patrollers, highway maintenance crews and wrecker drivers depends on the actions of every motorist traveling on our highways,” said Colonel Flaherty. “All we ask is for drivers to avoid distractions, be alert and move over as you pass us and our flashing lights on the side of the road.”

Virginia’s Move Over law, established in 2002, requires drivers to either move over a lane or, when unable to, to cautiously pass all emergency personnel with blue and red flashing lights – law enforcement, firefighters, and rescue - stopped on the side of a road. In 2010, the state law was expanded to include tow truck drivers and highway workers who display yellow or amber flashing lights on their vehicles.

The PSA was produced by the Virginia State Police in partnership with VDOT. Both English and Spanish versions of the PSA are available for download on VSP’s YouTube page:

Funding for the Move Over billboard and movie theater PSA campaigns is provided through a grant administered by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Highway Safety Office and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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RICHMOND – The men and women of the Virginia State Police and their families will gather together Thursday, May 26, 2016, to honor those public safety professionals who have given the ultimate sacrifice in their service to the Commonwealth of Virginia. During the 2016 Virginia State Police Law Enforcement Memorial Service, special recognition will be given to Trooper Nathan-Michael W. Smith, 27, who died in the line of duty Sept. 21, 2015, in Prince George County; and Trooper Chad P. Dermyer, 37, who lost his life March 31, 2016, in the City of Richmond. The Honorable Lamont Bagby of the Virginia House of Delegates will provide the ceremony’s keynote address.

A poignant part of the service will be the unveiling and dedication of Trooper Smith’s portrait before his family and fellow troopers. Following the ceremony, Trooper Smith’s portrait will be hung in the Colonel C.W. Woodson Jr. Memorial Gallery located within the Virginia State Police Academy. The gallery already holds the portraits of the state police’s other 60 courageous men and women who died in the line-of-duty while serving the citizens of the Commonwealth.

Trooper Smith died after his vehicle crashed on an Interstate 295 exit ramp in Prince George County. Trooper Smith was responding to an emergency request for assistance at a fatal crash scene in Dinwiddie County.

The service will recognize all of the Department’s law enforcement professionals who have died in the line of duty, to include a special tribute to the following 13 troopers in which 2016 marks a significant passage of time":

5 Years:           Trooper Adam M. Bowen                   (2011-King George Co.)*

10 Years:         Sr. Trooper Robert A. Hill, Sr.           (2006 - Southampton Co.)

10 Years:         Trooper Kevin C. Manion                   (2006 - Clarke Co.)

20 Years:         Trooper Gregory P. Fleenor               (1996 - Hanover Co.)

30 Years:         Trooper Ricky M. McCoy                   (1986 - Salem)

35 Years:         Trooper Robin L. Farmer                    (1981-  Caroline Co.)

40 Years:         Trooper Bernard W. Wright                (1976 - Halifax Co.)

40 Years:         Trooper Garland W. Fisher, Jr.           (1976 - Durham, N.C.)

60 Years:         Trooper Henry M. Brooks, Jr.            (1956 - Pittsylvania Co.)

65 Years:         Trooper Robert Wright Smith             (1951 – Pamplin)

65 Years:         Investigator Wallace M. Simpson       (1951 - Petersburg)

70 Years:         Trooper William H. Andrews               (1946 - Nottoway Co.)

75   Years:        Trooper Urshell T. Mayo                     (1941 - Hampton)

*Year & Location of Death

Each tribute includes a single bell toll and an Honor Guard salute.


Virginia State Police 2016 Police Officers’ Memorial Service

Date: Thursday, May 26, 2016                           

Time: 10:30 a.m.

Location: VSP Gymnasium

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Virginia State Police Insurance Fraud Program Announces Fraud Fighters Awards Winners

Richmond, Va. — The Virginia State Police Insurance Fraud Program yesterday distributed 10 Fraud Fighters Awards to individuals who’ve made exemplary contributions to help stamp out fraud in the Commonwealth. Fraud Fighters Awards are presented annually during Insurance Fraud Awareness Week. First Sgt. Steve Hall, IFP coordinator, introduced this year’s Fraud Fighters Awards at a luncheon at the Virginia Chapter of the International Association of Special Investigation Units annual conference at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Midlothian. “Insurance fraud costs Virginians millions each year, and losses across the United States are in the billions,” Hall said. “So it’s important to highlight some of the good work that’s being done to combat insurance fraud.” In 1999, the Virginia General Assembly established the IFP (House Bill 52-37) to initiate independent inquiries and investigations regarding suspected insurance fraud. The IFP established its Fraud Fighters Awards program in 2003. Fraud Fighters Awards nominees are judged on a variety of efforts taken to reduce fraud in Virginia, including: actions taken to proactively prevent insurance fraud; involvement and contributions in in-surance fraud investigations; financial impact, in terms of recoveries and restitution, of their investigative efforts; proven commitment to assisting the insurance community in fighting fraud. 2016 Fraud Fighters Awards— Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney John Alexander, Botetourt County — Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Hardiman, Stafford County — Lt. Steve St. Clair, Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office — Senior Investigator Jay Boothe, Virginia State Corporation Commission Bureau of Insurance — Senior Special Agent Durwin Powell, Virginia State Police — Senior Special Agent Gary Straub, Virginia State Police — Senior Special Agent Harvey Spahr, Virginia State Police — Special Agent Brandon Blakey, Virginia State Police — Special Agent Christopher Brennan, Virginia State Police — Special Agent Scott Mitchell, Virginia State Police



RICHMOND – Virginia’s Finest will welcome 74 additional new troopers and one special agent accountant to the Department’s ranks Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, following the 123rd Basic Session’s graduation ceremony. Commencement exercises begin at 10 a.m. in the Virginia State Police Gymnasium at 7700 Midlothian Turnpike in North Chesterfield.       

“Law enforcement is one of the most honorable calls to service,” says Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Why endure 28 weeks of a physical, emotional and demanding academic environment? It’s because the men and women who take this oath have a passion to protect their communities and understand what it means to sacrifice and serve.”

A highlight of the graduation ceremony is when the new troopers receive their state police diplomas. Typically, Colonel Flaherty hands them their certificate but in some instances, the new trooper can select a family member who currently serves or is retired from a local, state or federal law enforcement agency. This year, 12 members of the 123rd Basic School will receive their diploma from such a family member.

The state police graduates are comprised of individuals from every part of the Commonwealth to also include the states of Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The class also graduates an individual born in the Czech Republic. Many in the class sought out the Virginia State Police because “I have always wanted to be in law enforcement, and help protect and serve my family and community” and “my family and I owe a great deal to the nation and state due to the opportunities granted to us and my service to the Department, the state and the nation is the least I could do.”

A number of the new troopers, prior to entering the Academy served with other law enforcement agencies and/or with a branch of the military. The 123rd Basic Session yields more than 50 years of previous law enforcement and corrections experience, as well as almost 135 years of prior military service.

Members of the 123rd Basic Session began their probationary training phase Feb. 25, 2015, followed by 28 weeks of academic, physical and practical training at the Academy. The probationary phase requires trainees to complete two and a half weeks of introductory training at the Academy before being assigned to a Field Training Officer (FTO). The new troopers have received more than 1,600 hours of classroom and field instruction in more than 100 different subjects, including crime scene investigation, survival Spanish, judicial procedures, self defense, cultural diversity and firearms.

Following graduation, the new troopers’ final phase of training begins Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, when they report for their individual duty assignments. Each trooper will spend a minimum of six weeks with an FTO learning his or her new patrol area and day-to-day duties.





Austin Lee Albright

Patrick County


James Wesley Allen



Kevin Christopher Anderson



Jordan Lee Bailey


Isle of Wight

Chad Wesley Bare



Keith John Bassolino

Queens, N.Y.


Courtney Nicole Batten



Robert Lee Blakley



Jeffrey Adam Blevins



Matthew Scott Burgett



Heath Blain Burnett



Arron Allen Campbell

Glade Spring


Joshua Darrell Cockerham



Chadwick Dewey Compton



John Andrew Compton



Jason Purnell Cornett

Surry County


John Tyler Lee Crewe



Jonathan Edward Dee



Jarid Michael Tyler Dickinson

Holland, Mich.


Ryan James Dougherty

Virginia Beach


Elliot Bradford English



Jacob Pearson Fix



Ryan Wayne Fox

Virginia Beach

Norfolk/Virginia Beach

Davis Branham Gooding, III


New Kent

Sarah Michelle Gregory



Troy Allen Hackenbracht

Mount Jackson


Wesley Nicholaus Hagedorn

Virginia Beach

Norfolk/Virginia Beach

Aaron Bradley Hallman



Michael John Kryznefski

Roxbury, N.J.

Prince William

Toland Quang Lam



Kyler Norvell Lewis


Springfield (Express Lanes)

Maurice Troy Lockett

Newport News

Hampton/Newport News

Jonathan Joseph Lohman

Cresco, Pa.


Christopher Lolos

Garfield, N.J.

Norfolk/Virginia Beach

Rebecca Sue Mann

Charlotte Court House


Mason Garrett Mays







Aaron Lee McCoy

Fort Blackmore


Taylor Ray McKay



Preston Alan Meier



Andrew Paul Mercaldo

Havre de Grace, Md.


John Amos Montgomery

Barren Springs


Bradley Keven Mullins



Cody Lynn Mumaw



Arthur Nicolas Patsios

Watertown, Mass.


Tremaine Jarrell Peterson

Newport News

Hampton/Newport News

Stephen Alexander Phillips



Nicholas Lee Pittman

Southampton County


Ethan Oakley Price



Cameron O'Neal Richardson

Glen Allen


Andrew James Rohnke

New Oxford, Pa.


James Edward Shaw, Jr.

New Kent

James City

Jacob Dillon Skeith



Chelsie Lynn Smith

Gate City


Matthew Edward Spalding



Derek Brian Stotler



Robert Allen Swift

Ruther Glen


Mitchell Wayne Talley, Sr.



Clinton Scott Thackston



David Lee Thomas, Jr.



Eric Thomas



Earl La-Neal Thornton



Rashuan Derric Todd



Zachary George Torrance



William Allan Towles

Virginia Beach

Prince William

Lucie Vajglova

Prague, Czech Republic


Charles Milton Vancampen


Prince William

Jason Davis Vann



Dakota Lewis Vaughn

Giles County


Steven Ryan Wallace



Matthew Dallas Ward

Fluvanna County


Seth Emmanuel Wenger



Valencia Nicole Williams



Thomas Lee Wilson, Jr.

Hughesville, Md.


Aaron Michael Young


Prince William



Special Agent Accountant




Jennifer Marie Fisher



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East Coast I-95 “Drive to Save Lives” Initiative Remains Ongoing Through New Year’s

RICHMOND, Va. – Five fatal crashes over the Christmas holiday weekend resulted in the deaths of one pedestrian, one moped operator and three drivers on Virginia’s highways. The deaths occurred in Bedford and Surry counties, and the cities of Hampton, Newport News and Richmond. Alcohol was a factor in at least two of the five fatal crashes. As of Dec. 28, 2015, preliminary reports indicate 732 individuals have died in traffic crashes statewide; compared to 694 same date in 2014.

With the New Year’s holiday festivities just days away, all motorists are reminded to not to drink and drive. Virginia State Police is among the more than 10,000 police departments and law enforcement agencies participating in the nationwide Drive Sober or Get Pulled Overholiday enforcement crackdown. Whether celebrating the New Year in Virginia or anywhere in the U.S., all drivers can avoid adding to the toll of drunk driving by following the law, planning a safe ride home, designating a sober driver or use NHTSA’s SaferRide app to call a taxi or a friend so they can be picked up. The app is available for Android devices on Google Play, and Apple devices on the iTunes store.

In addition, Virginia troopers are still on heightened patrol along the Interstate 95 corridor as part of an East Coast traffic-safety initiative. Virginia State Police is partnering with the state police, highway patrols and local law enforcement of every state along the Eastern Seaboard containing a portion of Interstate 95 in an effort to keep one of the nation’s major interstate corridors safe and fatality-free. This Drive to Save Livestraffic-safety operation began Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015, and concludes New Year’s Eve.

I-95 is a major travel corridor along the East Coast, and the Christmas to New Year’s holiday season is among the busiest long-distance travel period of the year. More than 33,000 deaths occur each year on our nation’s highways, making highway fatalities one of the top 12 causes of death within the United States and the leading cause of death among teens.

The Drive to Save Lives campaign focuses on the use of seatbelts, deterring speeding and reckless drivers, and targets impaired and distracted driving on highways. Through the traffic-safety initiative, state police and highway patrol leaders are collaborating to change the high-risk behaviors of motorists that lead to crashes through education and awareness, partnerships, and high-visibility traffic enforcement.

The public is encouraged to report aggressive or impaired drivers to Virginia State Police by dialing #77.

With the increase of emergency personnel on the highways, Virginia State Police reminds drivers to comply with Virginia’s “Move Over” law. A life-saving law intended to protect public safety responders and others who have a responsibility to work the roads. Drivers are required to change to another travel lane or, when unable to, to cautiously pass emergency personnel stopped on the side of the road. The law also includes highway maintenance vehicles and tow trucks equipped with flashing amber lights.

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145 DUI Arrests and 11,000+ Speeders Cited on Virginia Highways

RICHMOND – Six individuals lost their lives in traffic crashes on Virginia’s highways over the 2015 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to preliminary reports. In 2014, a total of eight people were killed in traffic crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. During the 2015 holiday statistical counting period that began at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday (Nov. 25) and ended at midnight Sunday (Nov. 29), the fatal crashes occurred in Craig, King George and Loudoun counties, and in the cities of Hampton, Newport News and Norfolk.

“Six deaths are still six too many, but the lower number of traffic deaths for this past Thanksgiving weekend is encouraging,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “As indicated by the increase in all areas of traffic enforcement over the holiday weekend and the fact that we are still averaging a dozen more traffic deaths in 2015 compared to 2014, there are still too many drivers making irresponsible choices when behind the wheel. The 54 more DUI arrests this past holiday weekend compared to last year are extremely alarming, especially as we head into the holiday season and its many festivities.”

During the 2015 Thanksgiving holiday, Virginia State Police once again participated in the Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E), a state-sponsored, national program that aims to reduce traffic crashes and fatalities caused by speeding, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints.  From Wednesday through Sunday, Virginia troopers arrested 145 impaired drivers for DUI and cited 11,605 speeders and another 3,075 reckless drivers. In addition, the troopers cited 970 seat belt violations and 286 child safety seat violations.

During the 2014 Thanksgiving holiday in Virginia, state troopers cited 9,856 speeders and 2,315 reckless drivers. In addition, 706 adults were cited for failing to buckle up as required by state law. Troopers also issued 206 citations for child safety seat violations. A total of 91 drivers were arrested for DUI.

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that 2014 saw a national decline in traffic deaths, but that the first six months of 2015 indicate fatal crashes are trending upward. Nationwide data for 2014 from NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)show:

  • Drunk driving crashes continue to represent roughly one-third of fatalities, resulting in 9,967 deaths in 2014.
  • Nearly half (49%) of passenger vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts.
  • The number of motorcyclists killed was far higher in states without strong helmet laws, resulting in 1,565 lives lost in 2014.
  • Distracted driving accounted for 10 percent of all crash fatalities, killing 3,179 people in 2014.
  • Drowsy driving accounted for 2.6 percent of all crash fatalities; at least 846 people died in these crashes in 2014.

All motorists are reminded to Drive to Save Lives by buckling up, avoiding distractions, complying with speed limits and never driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Funds generated from summonses issued by Virginia State Police go directly to court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which benefits public school construction, technology funding and teacher retirement.

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RICHMOND – Whether you root for the Hokies or the Hoos, or have your own favorite college football team to cheer on during this Saturday’s major matchups, nothing rivals the importance of all fans driving to save lives over the Thanksgiving weekend. In fact, Head Virginia Tech Football Coach Frank Beamer and Head University of Virginia Football Coach Mike London this summer put their rivalries aside in order to team up with the Virginia State Police for a traffic safety public service announcement (PSA):

The video, produced in partnership with Advance Auto Parts headquartered in Roanoke, Va., aims to reach young adult drivers who are most at risk for traffic crashes, injuries and deaths on Virginia highways. Last year in Virginia, 123 male and female drivers and passengers between the ages of 18 and 25 lost their lives in a traffic crash.* In 2014, there were 10,220 drivers and 2,815 passengers between ages 18 and 25 injured in traffic crashes statewide.*


“We need all drivers to have a game plan before they leave for and from game day festivities,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “First and foremost, never drink and drive. Buzzed driving is drunk driving and puts you and all motorists at risk. Play bad and the greatest thing you risk is losing a game. Drive impaired, distracted, unbuckled, and/or recklessly and the greatest thing you risk is losing your life or taking someone else’s. Reducing traffic fatalities on Virginia’s highways is a score we can live with.”

Drivers are also reminded to maintain your vehicle, use caution at railroad crossings, and comply with the state’s “Move Over” law to protect first responders and highway safety workers.



2015 Traffic Death Toll up by 20 Compared to 2014

RICHMOND – Nine persons ranging in age of 19 years to 85 years old died this past week in a traffic crash on a Virginia highway. Of those nine persons, only the 19-year-old Chesterfield County male was wearing a seat belt. With travel forecasts calling for a record volume of Thanksgiving week traffic, the Virginia State Police are issuing a challenge to all drivers and passengers – Drive to Save Lives.

During the 2014 Thanksgiving holiday counting period, eight fatal traffic crashes claimed eight lives. That was Virginia’s lowest death toll for a Thanksgiving weekend in over a decade. But, with current reports showing the 2015 fatality rate for Virginia at 652 lives lost compared to 633 this time last year*, state police are very concerned about the safety of the Commonwealth’s highways. To counter the increase in traffic crashes and fatalities caused by speeding, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints, state police will once again be participating in the Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.), a state-sponsored, national program.

“State police will have the majority of its uniformed workforce on patrol from Wednesday through Sunday of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Our goal is not to see how many summonses can be issued and traffic violators arrested over the holiday. The purpose of having our troopers out there on Virginia’s highways is to remind the motoring public of the importance of traffic safety, and to deter aggressive, dangerous, reckless, and impaired driving. We are prepared to do our job to make Virginia safer and we thank those people already driving to save lives. But, as evident by the spike in traffic deaths this year, we still need more drivers and passengers to do their part by buckling up, complying with speed limits, sharing the road, and never driving impaired or distracted.”

Motorists can expect to see an increase in troopers throughout the Commonwealth beginning Nov. 25, 2015, at 12:01 a.m., and continuing through midnight Nov. 29, 2015. As a result of drivers failing to obey the law during the 2014 Thanksgiving holiday in Virginia, state troopers had to stop and cite 9,856 speeders and 2,315 reckless drivers. In addition, 706 adults were cited for failing to buckle up as required by state law. Troopers also issued 206 citations for child safety seat violations. A total of 91 drivers were arrested for DUI.

Virginia State Police are also participating in the ongoing national Click It or Ticket Mobilization, which concludes the Monday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 26, 2015). Of the eight who died last year in traffic crashes over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, six were not wearing seat belts. Virginia is aiming to achieve a seat belt use rate of at least 82.1 percent in 2015.

With the increase of emergency personnel on the highways, Virginia State Police reminds drivers to comply with Virginia’s “Move Over” law. A life-saving law intended to protect public safety responders and others who have a responsibility to work the roads. Drivers are required to change to another travel lane or, when unable to, to cautiously pass emergency personnel stopped on the side of the road. The law also includes highway maintenance vehicles and tow trucks equipped with flashing amber lights.

*Jan. 1, 2015-Nov. 23, 2015 compared to Jan. 1, 2014-Nov. 23, 2014, Virginia State Police



Wednesday, family members, friends, VSP retirees, York County officials, current and former VSP Superintendents, state legislators and Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran gathered in York County to honor VSP Troopers Garland M. Miller and Donald E. Lovelace, who were killed in the line of duty 52 and 45 years ago, respectively.

Those in attendance came together to dedicate the Barlow Road Overpass that crosses Interstate 64 as the “Trooper Garland M. Miller Memorial Bridge” and the Route 134 Bridge over U.S. Route 17 as the “Trooper Donald E. Lovelace Memorial Bridge.” Both bridges are located in York County and were designated as such during the 2015 Virginia General Assembly.

Trooper Miller’s (l to r) daughter, wife, Ada King – who spoke at today’s service, and son,

Trooper Miller, 29, died in a traffic crash June 13, 1963. He was traveling with a probationary trooper on Route 168, near Camp Peary, when their patrol car suddenly ran off the road and struck several trees. Trooper Miller died at the scene. The probationary trooper was injured but survived the crash. A 7-year state police veteran, Trooper Miller was survived by his wife and two young children.

(Far left) Retired VA State Police Colonel Bill Corvello with (l to r) Trooper Lovelace’s son, daughter, granddaughter and niece.

Working the midnight shift on Oct. 18, 1970, Trooper Donald E. Lovelace, 26, had just marked on for duty when he noticed a vehicle driving in the wrong direction on Route 17 in York County. With his emergency lights activated, he stopped the vehicle. As he was walking up to the stopped vehicle, the trooper was struck and killed by a passing vehicle. A father of three, Trooper Lovelace had just graduated from the State Police Basic School four months earlier.

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Trooper Dies Following Traffic Crash in Prince George County

RICHMOND – Virginia State Police are mourning the loss of one of its own today after Trooper Nathan-Michael W. Smith died following a traffic crash in Prince George County. Trooper Smith, 27, of Henrico, Va., becomes the Department’s 61st sworn employee to die in the line of duty. 

At 7:11 a.m., Monday (Sept. 21), Virginia State Police responded to a single-vehicle crash on Route 460 in Dinwiddie County. A 2004 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck was traveling east on Route 460, near Airport Street, when it ran off the right side of the road and struck the guardrail. The adult male driver was transported to Southside Regional Medical Center, where he died later Monday morning. The fatal crash remains under investigation.

One of the troopers at the Route 460 crash scene radioed the state police Richmond Division dispatch to request emergency assistance. When other troopers in the Area heard that request over the radio, they understood it to mean there was a trooper in distress, as well as the crash victim. Trooper Smith was among several troopers who immediately began responding to the scene to render aid.

While en-route to the Route 460 crash scene at approximately 7:20 a.m., Trooper Smith took the Interstate 295 south exit ramp to Interstate 95 north in Prince George County. His Ford Taurus patrol vehicle ran off the left side of the ramp and crashed into the wood line. Trooper Smith was flown to VCU Medical Center. He died later Monday (Sept. 21) morning.

The state police Richmond Division Crash Reconstruction Team is investigating the Prince George County crash, which remains under investigation. It was later determined that no troopers were in distress at the Route 460 scene.

Trooper Smith was a member of the 121st Basic Session and graduated from the Academy June 6, 2014. The Suffolk, Va., native was assigned to the Richmond Division Area 7 Office, which includes the cities of Hopewell and Petersburg, and the counties of Dinwiddie, Nottoway and Prince George. Trooper Smith was assigned for patrol to Prince George County. He is survived by his parents, wife and two children.

Contributions can be made to the Virginia State Police Association Emergency Relief Fund. Make checks payable to the VSPA-ERF and notate. "Smith" on the memo line of your check.  Mail to VSPA. 6944 Forest Hill Ave., Richmond, VA, 23225.  Also, if anyone would like to make an online contribution through Paypal.  Visit and click on Emergency Relief Fund.  It is important to put "Smith" in the note section of your Paypal contribution.

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SOUTHAMPTON CO., Va. –Virginia State Police are investigating a hit-and-run that occurred on Route 258 in front of the Southampton Mobile Home Park in the early morning hours of Sunday (July 26, 2015).

Initially, Virginia State Trooper S.W. Johnson was assisting deputies with a large crowd that gathered for a party at a residence located off of Route 258. While patrolling the area, Trooper Johnson was notified that a female pedestrian was struck by a vehicle at approximately 12:10 a.m. The vehicle left the scene. The 25 year-old female victim was transported to Southampton Memorial Hospital with minor injuries.

Witnesses describe the vehicle as a blue minivan traveling north on Route 258. The vehicle is believed to be a 2013-2015 Dodge Caravan with minor damage to the right front area and/or headlight. The minivan’s passenger side mirror may also be damaged or missing its glass.

Anyone who may have been in the area at the time or has seen a vehicle matching this description is asked to call the Virginia State Police Chesapeake Division at 757-424-6800. They can also email Trooper Johnson at

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Virginia State Police Reminds Everyone Buzzed Driving is Still Drunk Driving

RICHMOND – With three days left until St. Patrick’s Day, the clock is ticking to find a designated driver because choosing one isn’t being lucky, but smart. If you are one of the many celebrating at a festival, street party or attending a parade this weekend or March 17, remember Virginia State Police will be on patrol looking for individuals who fail to make the responsible choice and choose to drink and drive.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nationwide 40 percent of all fatal crashes involved drunk drivers the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day (between the hours of 6 p.m., March 16, to 5:59 a.m., March 18) in 2013. The early morning hours were especially deadly during that same time period. Between midnight and 5:59 a.m. March 18, a drunk driver was responsible for half of all crash fatalities nationwide.

“Let’s face it, drunk driving is a choice and a reckless one, so drive sober because troopers take a zero tolerance to this behavior,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Impaired driving alone claimed 253 lives on Virginia’s highways in 2013.* Too many individuals lives are at stake when someone makes the irresponsible decision to get behind the wheel after consuming too many drinks. Be smart. Be responsible. Drive to save lives.”

The tragedies and costs from driving impaired are not limited to death, disfigurement, or injury. Drive drunk and also face the likely consequence of an arrest, loss of your license, or a night in jail. Stay safe this St. Patrick’s Day and make a plan before the celebration begins:

  • If you expect to ride home with someone else, designate a sober driver ahead of the party or save the number of a taxi company on your phone as a backup plan;
  • If you’re impaired, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation or a cab;
  • If available, consider using your local community’s Sober Ride® program – if you live in Northern Virginia call 1-800-200-TAXI or visit for more information;
  • If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to dial #77 on a cell phone to reach the nearest Virginia State Police Emergency Communications Center;
  • And remember, if you know someone who is about to drive, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

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VSP fields 801 Calls for Service Between Midnight and 8 AM

RICHMOND – Since midnight,  Virginia State Police troopers and dispatchers statewide have fielded  801 calls for service statewide. During the period statewide, Virginia troopers responded to 238 traffic crashes and 191 disabled vehicles. The majority of the crashes involved damaged vehicles only. There have no reported traffic fatalities.

Motorists are still being advised to stay off the highways as secondary roads are slick and hazardous. For their safety, drivers are advised to delay travel until later Tuesday so VDOT crews can continue to treat and clear the highways.

Drivers are also advised NOT to call 911 or #77 to find out about road conditions. These phone lines must remain clear for real emergencies. Call 511 for road conditions or click on

If having to travel, drivers are reminded to do drive to save lives (#drivetosavelives):

  • Clear off all snow from your vehicle – windows, roof, trunk and lights            
  • Add extra time to reach travel destination
  • Slow speed for road conditions
  • Increase driving distances between vehicles for increased stopping distance
  • Buckle up and don’t drive distracted
  • MOVE OVER for all stopped emergency vehicles, highway vehicles and two trucks.


Weather Related Traffic Accidents Claim Virginia Lives

Travel Safety:

Temperatures will drop later today and into the evening causing wet roads to ice back over. Motorists are advised to avoid traveling tonight if possible.

If you must drive, then give yourself extra time to reach your destination; slow your speed; buckle up; avoid distractions; use your headlights; keep your windshield and other windows clean of ice and grime in order to enhance your visibility; stay alert to other drivers and for icy patches on the roads.

Traffic crashes are starting to calm down as we move into the afternoon hours of Wednesday. The majority of traffic crashes have involved only damaged vehicles and no injuries. From 3:30 a.m. Wednesday through 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Virginia State Police troopers have responded to approximately 344 reported traffic crashes.

VSP Richmond Division: The majority of crashes have occurred today within the Metro-Richmond region. From 12:01 a.m. Wednesday through 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, troopers assigned to the Richmond Division have responded to  approximately 166 reported traffic crashes.

The four-vehicle crash in the southbound lanes of I-95 at the 92 mile marker in Hanover County that occurred shortly after 4 a.m. Wednesday has been cleared. All southbound lanes of I-95 were re-opened to through traffic shortly after 10 a.m. No serious injuries were reported in this crash that involved three tractor-trailers and a passenger vehicle. The crash began when a southbound tractor-trailer jackknifed across the travel lanes, thus sparking a chain-reaction crash.

VSP Appomattox Division: (Includes Charlottesville/Augusta County/Lynchburg/South Boston/South Hill) From 5 a.m. through 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, troopers assigned to the Appomattox Division have responded to 77 traffic crashes.

VSP Chesapeake Division: From 4 a.m. through 11:30 a.m., troopers assigned to the state police Chesapeake Division have responded to approximately 42 reported traffic crashes.

The four-vehicle crash in the southbound lanes of I-95 at the 92 mile marker in Hanover County that occurred shortly after 4 a.m. Wednesday has been cleared. All southbound lanes of I-95 were re-opened to through traffic shortly after 10 a.m. No serious injuries were reported in this crash that involved three tractor-trailers and a passenger vehicle. The crash began when a southbound tractor-trailer jackknifed across the travel lanes, thus sparking a chain-reaction crash.

VSP Salem Division: From 4:30 a.m. through 11:30 a.m., troopers assigned to the state police Salem Division have responded to approximately 40 traffic crashes.

The VSP Culpeper, Fairfax and Wytheville Divisions have not experienced a significant increase in traffic crashes today.

Traffic Fatalities:

State police are still in the process of investigating the cause of a fatal crash that occurred around 2 a.m. Wednesday on Interstate 85 in Dinwiddie County.  (Details to be released shortly)

At 10:11 a.m. Wednesday, state police responded to the scene of a fatal crash in the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 near the interchange for Interstate 295 in Hanover County. The cause of this single-vehicle crash is still under investigation as troopers are still on scene.

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Soggy Forecast Requires Extra Caution on Virginia Highways

RICHMOND – As Virginians prepare to celebrate our nation’s independence, the Virginia State Police encourages everyone to include traffic safety as an integral part of their preparations and activities. The Fourth of July holiday weekend is one of the deadliest holidays of the year due to drunk-driving crashes. During the July 4th holiday period over a five year span (2008-2012) nationwide, 765 people lost their lives in crashes involving drivers with a BAC of .08 or more.*

“With the additional threat of heavy rains from Tropical Storm Arthur, motorists are also advised to be prepared for inclement weather conditions, as well as detours and/or delays due to possible flooding,” said Col. Flaherty. “Use extreme caution during and following any kind of severe storm. If possible, delay travel until the storm has passed by and the threat of standing water and downed trees has diminished.”

To manage the increase in holiday traffic and in relation to the pending storm, Virginia State Police will step up patrols and enforcement as part of Operation C.A.R.E. The annual, nationwide, state-sponsored program, otherwise known as the Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort, concentrates on safe driving through strict traffic enforcement in an attempt to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities. The 2014 statistical counting period for the holiday weekend begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 4, 2014, and concludes at midnight Sunday, July 6, 2014.

“During the 2013 Fourth of July holiday period, Virginia troopers arrested 104 drivers for DUI because of their reckless decision to drive impaired,” said Col. W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Consider this your only warning. If you drink and drive, then you will be arrested and charged by a trooper. We have zero tolerance for those who irresponsibly choose to put lives at risk on Virginia’s highways.”

During last year’s Independence Day holiday, Virginia State Police’s enforcement efforts also resulted in the following: 11,350 speeders and another 2,646 reckless drivers being cited; and 1,053 individuals being charged for failing to buckle up. There were also 335 child safety violations cited by state troopers. State police investigated 807 traffic crashes during the 2013 Independence Day weekend, of which seven were fatal. In 2012, 10 people were killed in traffic crashes during the same holiday.

With state police’s stepped up enforcement efforts, drivers are also reminded of Virginia’s “Move Over” law this holiday weekend: (#MoveOver)


Virginia State Police Joins Drive to Save Lives Campaign

The VSP join the International Association of Chiefs of Police, US Department of Transportation & State Police and Highway Patrol Agencies  Nationwide to Commence

Drive to Save Lives Campaign

Working Together to Reduce Highway Fatalities by 15 Percent in 2014

Drive to Save Lives Press Conference, New Orleans, La.RICHMOND, Va.– Today Virginia State Police Superintendent, Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, joined state police and highway patrol leaders from 40 other states along with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to announce the Drive to Save Lives Campaign at a press conference in New Orleans, La.    

The implementation of the Drive to Save Lives Campaign is a united effort by state police and highway patrol leaders to reduce highway fatalities by 15 percent in 2014. More than 33,000 deaths occur each year on our nation’s roadways. Highway fatalities rank as one of the top 12 causes of death in the United States and it is the leading cause of death among teens. This is unacceptable because most crashes are preventable.

As of Thursday (March 20, 2014), traffic deaths are on the decline in Virginia. To date, there have been 112 reported traffic deaths statewide, compared to 137 traffic deaths this same date in 2013.

“Every decrease in the number of traffic deaths is a life saved on a Virginia highway,” said Col. Flaherty. “Yet, there have already been 112 traffic crash deaths in just the first three months of this year statewide. These are lives destroyed because somebody failed to make safe driving practices a priority. In 2012, traffic deaths on Virginia highways were more than double the total number of homicides reported statewide that same year.* If we are to make our highways safer in the Commonwealth and across the country, then Virginians have to take traffic safety as seriously as those of us in law enforcement do.”

In order to decrease highway fatalities, state police and highway patrol leaders from the IACP Division of State and Provincial Police will lead a sustained effort over the course of the year that is data driven; focuses on the use of seat-belts and speeding; and targets impaired and distracted driving. The campaign will also include enforcement actions against the unsafe driving behaviors of the operators of large trucks and buses. State police and highway patrol leaders will work to change the high-risk behaviors of motorists that lead to crashes through education and awareness, partnerships, and high-visibility traffic enforcement.

"Far too often, troopers, officers and deputies are called upon to notify a family member that a loved one is not coming home,” said Col. Michael Edmonson, Superintendent of the Louisiana State Police and General Chair of the IACP Division of State and Provincial Police “We, as law enforcement leaders, have an obligation to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to reduce highway fatalities in our communities, hence the Drive to Save Lives campaign. Through our collective efforts to educate and raise awareness about the leading causes of fatalities, our expanded partnerships to address these causes, and high visibility proactive enforcement to change behaviors, our goal is to reduce highway fatalities nationwide by 15 percent in 2014.”

“The IACP is thrilled to partner with the United States Department of Transportation on the Drive to Save Lives campaign,” said Chief Yousry “Yost” Zakhary, IACP President. “During my 34 years as a law enforcement officer, I have responded to far too many crashes caused by speeding and witnessed too many deaths because drivers and/or passengers were not wearing their seatbelts, and because of impaired and distracted driving. Crashes are preventable -- and that is what this campaign aims to do. Prevent them from occurring in the first place. Through our partnership, we will work to reduce highway deaths in 2014, and the coming years, because even one death is too many.” 

“Last year, we lost 33,000 lives on our nation’s roads, many of them because of drunk driving and from people not wearing seatbelts, speeding, and driving distracted,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “That’s why I’m pleased to join the International Association of Chiefs of Police in its ambitious goal to reduce highway fatalities by 15 percent. The Department of Transportation stands ready to do its part to help them achieve it.”

Another major element of the Drive to Save Lives Campaign is officer safety. Traffic-related incidents are the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths of law enforcement officers. When discussing the importance of officer safety to the success of the Drive to Save Lives Campaign, California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joseph Farrow, chair of the IACP Highway Safety Committee commented: “As we Drive to Save Lives, it is important that we include the men and women of law enforcement in this campaign.” “Last year, 46 officers were killed on our roadways. This represents more than 40 percent of all line of duty deaths for the year. Equally troubling is the fact that the number of officers struck and killed while outside of their vehicles was once again in double digits, continuing the trend of the past decade.”

The nationwide Campaign is not just a yearlong effort by state police and highway patrol leaders and their partners, this Campaign will be an ongoing effort to prevent the needless deaths that occur on Virginia’s roadways each year. Follow the IACP campaign on twitter at #Drive2SaveLives and Virginia State Police’s campaign on

*2012 Virginia Traffic Crash Facts, 2012 Crime in Virginia Report



RICHMOND – In the first six months since Virginia’s texting-while-driving ban became a primary offense, Virginia State Police troopers have issued hundreds of citations for the violation. From July 1, 2013, through December 31, 2013, troopers stopped and charged 567 drivers for violating the state’s “texting- while-driving” law.

During the 2013 Virginia General Assembly Session, legislators amended Code of Virginia 46.2-1078.1 ( to make it a primary offense. A violation of this section is a traffic infraction punishable, for the first offense, by a fine of $125 and, for a second or subsequent offense, by a fine of $250. The law applies to the operator of a passenger vehicle in motion and exempts law-enforcement and other first responders.

Since the law went into effect, Virginia state troopers have been enforcing it just like any other primary offense. The trooper must observe the illegal conduct of the vehicle’s operator, thus providing the trooper with reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop on that vehicle. Further investigation determines what, if any, offense(s) the driver will be cited for by the trooper. Troopers have the discretion to warn, summons or arrest a violator.

“Driving distracted puts everybody at risk on a highway,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “According to preliminary data*, driver distraction accounted for 20 percent of all fatal traffic crashes on Virginia’s roads in 2013. That accounts for 131 lives lost last year because of a driver failing to pay attention while behind the wheel of a vehicle.”

In addition, state legislators this past session also established Code of Virginia 46.2-341.20.5 ( The law prohibits anyone from texting while driving a commercial vehicle or a vehicle used to transport between nine and 15 passengers. The law does permit “texting when necessary to communicate with law enforcement or other emergency services.”

Code of Virginia 46.2-919.1 ( prohibits the use of any wireless telecommunications devices by persons driving school buses.

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RICHMOND – With heavy hearts, Virginia State Police are still investigating the cause and circumstances surrounding a crash involving a revered Department supervisor. Saturday’s death of Sgt. J. Michael Phillippi became the Department’s 60th line of duty death.

At approximately 2:20 a.m., Saturday (Jan. 11, 2014), the Henry County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call about a vehicle crash in the county on Chatham Road/Route 57, approximately 170 feet west of Route 9728/Pennrail Road. The crash investigation has confirmed that the blue, unmarked Chevrolet Impala was eastbound on Route 57 when it ran off the right side of the road and struck a highway sign. The car then crossed back over Route 57, ran off the left side and struck an embankment. The car suffered minimal damage, which suggests that it was not traveling at a high rate of speed at the time of impact.

When rescue crews arrived, they found Sgt. Phillippi still seated inside the crashed patrol car wearing his seat belt. State police were immediately notified and responded to the scene. Phillippi was transported to Martinsville Memorial Hospital, where he died a short time later. His remains have been transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke for autopsy and examination.

“Highly respected for his leadership, strong character, integrity, and dedication to mission, Sergeant Phillippi was totally loyal to the troopers he supervised and mentored, and the community he served,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “His death is being felt across the Commonwealth and especially within the Henry County-Martinsville region, where he has spent the past several decades on patrol.”

The Virginia State Police Salem Division Crash Reconstruction Team is investigating the crash. The incident, to include the cause of death, remains under investigation at this time.

Sgt. Phillippi, 65, was working the overnight supervisory shift for the Salem Division at the time of his death. He has spent the majority of his 42 years with the Department assigned to the Virginia State Police Area 42 Office, which encompasses the City of Martinsville and the counties of Henry and Patrick. A native of Gate City, Va., he joined the state police May 1, 1971, and was promoted to sergeant in February 1990. Sgt. Phillippi is survived by his wife.



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