Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
Office (502) 782-1780
Second Group of KSP Officers in Awe of Katrina Devastation
Troopers Involved in Louisiana Pursuit, Capture
Date of Release: 09/15/05
(FRANKFORT, KY) ---Reports received from the first wave of Kentucky State Police troopers sent to hurricane-stricken Gulf areas last week still didn't prepare the second contingents, which were awe-struck at the devastation in Mississippi and Louisiana.
KSP Major Wayne Mayfield, who headed the Mississippi group this week, said he had never witnessed anything like it. "I worked flood details in St. Louis, but nothing compares to this," Mayfield said. "What you see in the images on TV and in newspapers doesn't begin to show everything. Plus the smells...like huge garbage dumps."
Fourteen KSP troopers are in Mississippi this week and 37 are in Louisiana. Mayfield, who is in Louisiana at the moment, said KSP troopers there were involved in a high-speed pursuit on Tuesday. Two officers in a marked KSP cruiser were patrolling Interstate 12 near St. Tammany Parish, when a vehicle passed the cruiser in the emergency lane at a high rate of speed.
A trooper in a second marked KSP cruiser about 100 yards up the interstate began pursuing the vehicle as it passed his cruiser. The suspect exited the interstate and headed onto U.S. 11, driving in the wrong lane into oncoming traffic before losing control of his vehicle. KSP officers and a Louisiana state trooper converged at the scene while the suspect tried to flee on foot. He resisted arrest as KSP officers, all of whom have been sworn in as Louisiana state troopers, took the man into custody. There were no injuries and the man was charged with, among other things, driving under the influence, reckless driving, aggravated flight and as a fugitive for failure to appear in court.
KSP Commissioner Mark L. Miller said this example, along with the KSP troopers who helped capture a dangerous prison escapee in Mississippi last week, showed the hazards of this detail. "While we're helping many evacuees to find food, water, medical attention and shelter, our primary obligation is enforcement of the law," said Miller. "It's a highly-charged atmosphere after any disaster, and this makes pursuit of fugitives just that much more perilous."
Mayfield, and Captain Bill Payton who heads up the Louisiana KSP detail, said that while people are still in a state of shock, evacuees and citizens have shown amazing resiliency. "Everybody's pulling together, power and water gradually are being restored," said Mayfield. "Everybody's amazingly in good spirits, and the Louisiana and Mississippi law enforcement officers have been very hospitable. It's been humbling for us."
The two KSP details are expected to return to Kentucky this weekend. KSP may send additional troops in the future as the hurricane-ravaged states evaluate needs and which agencies can best meet those needs.