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ISP: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Updated February 11, 2016 7:56 AM | Filed under: Crime
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isp help.jpg

(UNDATED) - During the course of a year Indiana State Troopers assist nearly 200,000 motorists along Indiana roadways while driving more than 37 million miles. The Indiana State Police categorizes this encounter with the public as a police service.

These police services cover a wide range of different circumstances but typically involve the trooper assisting a stranded motorist who has engine trouble, a flat tire or simply needs directions. However, this courtesy service can also come at a cost. Indiana troopers have been struck and killed by passing vehicles as they offered their assistance (Winzenread 97', Beal 00') and shot and killed as they approached stranded motorists (Rich 07'). It is without saying that a police service is anything but simple, routine or safe.

The police service is such an important part of who the Indiana State Police are and what they do that it was written into the department's mission statement. So when a recent Facebook posting gained notoriety for all the wrong reasons it tore at the core values of integrity, loyalty, and community for the department and required attention.

The recently posted picture was snapped by a passing motorist of a police officer in an unmarked van with a stopped vehicle alongside the road. For this state trooper, who is assigned to the laboratory division and works as a Crime Scene Investigator, it wasn't anything he hadn't done hundreds of times before in his career. But it was the first time he had come under fire for doing the right thing and know one was more surprised than him when he saw it on the internet.

Within a few hours and then days the picture spread and the comments accumulated as the post was shared thousands of times. Perhaps it was the negative comment that was attached to the original post that sparked the fire and discussion that propelled the posting. In any event, "with current public opinion of law enforcement at a low it is frustrating to find inaccurate reports and volatile comments on social media but it seems all too common," commented Indiana State Police Sergeant Trent Smith. He simply stopped to offer his assistance to a man that was having problems with his vehicle. It seems with the creation of social media that we have lost our sense of direction as a society as it is now easier than ever to criticize, critique and jump to conclusions all while hiding behind a keyboard, Smith added.

What started for this trooper as nothing more than one man simply helping another, the criticisms and comments that followed have done little to undermine his resolve and more to remind him why he entered into law enforcement, to serve and protect.

It's not what you look at that matters but how you see it. Do you see an unmarked police vehicle with an officer writing a ticket or an officer helping a stranded motorist? Perceptions often battle one another, and unfortunately the truth often is lost.

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