DPS Dispatch

Governor Roy Cooper proclaimed this week, Oct. 13-19, as Juvenile Justice week in North Carolina. What is Juvenile Justice, though? Let’s take a quick look at this section within the Department of Public Safety and learn about the special work it carries out for the children, families and communities of our state. What is Juvenile Justice?

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The Great Southeast Shakeout is a week away and you can be part of the growing crowd to participate in the world’s largest earthquake drill on Oct. 17 at 10:17 a.m. Join the more than 2.1 million people in the southeast who have registered their organization, school, agency, business or family and are ready to perform a ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On’ drill, the recommended action for people to take during an earthquake. Among those joining in the Shakeout are more than 100 North Carolina K-12 schools and districts, which accounts for more than 347,000 of the 364,000 registered participants in the state.

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Even though it’s been more than a month since Hurricane Dorian wreaked havoc over the Bahamas, there hasn’t been a single day where the storm hasn’t weighed heavily on Joseph Styles’ mind. The Correction Enterprises’ job placement coordinator was born and raised in Freeport, the main city on the northwest island of Grand Bahama. His family still lives in the island country. Over the years, he and his family dealt with their fair share of hurricanes, but Styles said his family has never seen – or lived through – a catastrophic storm like Hurricane Dorian.

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D.J. Loftis could not hold back her tears as she said thank you to a team of people for training her family’s service dog, Apollo. Apollo is a recent graduate of the “At Both Ends of the Leash” (ABEL) program at Warren Correctional Institution and is able to recognize her son’s seizures before they occur. “You don’t realize the positive impact these dogs have on our lives,” Loftis said. “Our son is in a much safer place with Apollo around. He can alert us to a seizure within one to 55 minutes before it happens. That means so much. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

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State Highway Patrol troops across the state participated in “Operation Clear Track” on Tuesday, Sept. 24, as part of 2019 Rail Safety Week (Sept. 22-28). “Operation Clear Track” is the largest railroad initiative in the U.S. and saw more than 600 law enforcement agencies in 48 states participate this year. During the initiative, troopers were staffed at crossings to distribute safety cards and enforce grade crossings and trespassing laws.

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"La Fiesta del Pueblo” de 2019, evento en el cual participó el Departamento de Seguridad Pública, no decepcionó, ya que miles de personas llenaron Fayetteville St. en el centro de Raleigh el domingo 22 de septiembre para celebrar a la comunidad hispana durante el Mes de la Herencia Hispana. Varios representantes de DPS estuvieron presentes para compartir información y educar a los asistentes sobre los numerosos servicios que el departamento ofrece.

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North Carolina’s Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) bring a variety of skills as well as resources and come from all over to help rebuild communities. A VOAD is a volunteer agency that responds to disasters as part of their overall mission. NC Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry notes that North Carolina’s VOAD program plays a key role in disaster response and recovery.

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Duplin County deputies drove the mother to the hospital with military surplus high-water rescue vehicle obtained from LESS. Through the federal 1033 program, the DPS Law Enforcement Support Services office provides excess federal property to law enforcement agencies in North Carolina to enhance their capabilities and reduce costs to taxpayers. That equipment goes out all year long but some of it is especially welcome during times of natural disasters—like during hurricane season.

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Under an innovative therapy program, offenders in Central Prison have been crafting Christmas ornaments before the holiday season. The work is therapy. The offenders are on the mental health caseload at the state’s largest prison. “I tell you, they are the most innovative people anywhere,’’ said Sue Etheridge, an art therapist at the prison. “This is good therapy. It lets them focus on something outside themselves. In confinement like this, people tend to get lost in their own thoughts.”

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Any time an emergency strikes North Carolina, the Department of Public Safety pulls together as a singular entity and focuses on helping to prevent serious injury, protect lives and property and prepare everyone for what issues may arise. Recovery efforts often include countless meetings, mounds of paperwork and providing resources where needed. 

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When a hurricane or winter storm moves through an area and emergency shelters are opened, Functional Assessment Support Teams (FAST) help those with access and functional needs to find a safe place to stay and provide the resources  they need. NCEM recently held the second of three regional trainings to help ensure those teams are ready to serve in North Carolina.

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State Disaster Recovery Act provided funding Barbara Fletcher’s home near Princeton sits less than a mile from the Neuse River in one direction and Mill Creek in the other. She has experienced flooding a few times over the years, but Hurricane Mathew’s flooding was the worst. “I moved here in 1975 and put a $20 bill down on the house,” she said. “When I came back after that last flood, the bottom was saturated. You could pull out a drawer and the drawer would fall apart.”

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The humming of a helicopter may not be a sound that many North Carolinians notice day to day, but that sound could mean hope for someone in dire need of rescue. The NC Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) is a specialized team of NC National Guard and NC State Highway Patrol pilots paired with local first responders who serve as rescue technicians under coordination of NC Emergency Management personnel all working together towards a common goal—saving lives. 

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