The Idaho State Police is made up of more than 600 women and men, each dedicated to providing the best possible service to the people of Idaho. Public safety is essential for strong, healthy Idaho communities, and the services provided by the people of ISP support businesses, motorists, community-based criminal justice and victim resources, and law enforcement partners statewide. We’re proud to say, outstanding work happens here every day. Although we wish we could capture and share more of that effort, here are just a few examples of individual stories that had an extraordinary impact.
As always, thank you for your support.
Corporal Mitch Howard – Distinguished Achievement Award
On December 5, 2022, Idaho State Police Corporal Mitch Howard conducted a traffic stop on I-84 in Canyon County while working a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) operation in District 3. While investigating, he located approximately 67 pounds of marijuana in large duffle bags in the vehicle. The driver and passenger were arrested for trafficking marijuana and other drug charges. Cpl. Howard also noticed something far more critical during the investigation, a baby with few items to care for it. As the baby slept during most of the stop, Cpl. Howard believed it might have been drugged and asked the suspects about the baby. The female claimed to be the baby’s “Godmother” and had been responsible for the infant since August, but didn’t know the baby’s mother nor could she provide essential details that any guardian should know.
Howard did not sense the suspects were concerned about the baby in a way any legitimate guardian would be. Based on all the circumstances, Idaho Child Protective Services (CPS) was contacted and they took the child into protective custody. CPS eventually found the baby’s mother, who was homeless in Illinois. She had given the child to an unknown man and woman about three months before and had not seen or heard from them again.
Human trafficking often goes undetected, and the trafficking of children is the rarest and most severe of these encounters. Corporal Mitch Howard was presented the Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of his dedication and selfless service, attention to detail, and follow-through, which significantly contributed to providing lifesaving services.
Captain John Ganske – Distinguished Achievement Award
On May 26, 2022, Captain John Ganske was presented with the Distinguished Achievement Award for his role in the reactivation of the Idaho State Police SWAT.
Captain Ganske joined SWAT in 1994 and was a continuous member until it was decommissioned in 2010 due to budgetary issues. However, between 1994 and 2010, Captain Ganske held several positions on SWAT and ultimately held the position of Assistant SWAT Commander. During that time, ISP SWAT responded to more than a dozen incidents annually, except for a year they responded to 32 incidents.
In 2017, Captain Ganske took on the arduous task of rebuilding the SWAT with the goal of recommissioning the team. Captain Ganske identified personnel, researched the latest equipment, developed budgets, developed operating procedures, developed reporting structures, and developed operating guidelines for SWAT, ultimately receiving approval to bring back the team. In July 2017, Captain Ganske was appointed the SWAT Commander and worked diligently to procure everything needed. In September 2017, ISP SWAT was equipped, trained, and operational. Captain Ganske managed these accomplishments while performing his normal assigned duties as the ISP Headquarters Captain.
As the SWAT Commander, Captain Ganske led the team during numerous incidents, including searching for violent fugitives and hostage situations. In every situation, he led the team to successful outcomes, ultimately resulting in saving several lives and preserving the safety of the citizens of the State of Idaho.
Over his career, Captain Ganske demonstrated his commitment to safeguarding the lives and safety of the citizens of Idaho through his efforts both as a member and as a leader of ISP SWAT. Captain Ganske has clearly set a high bar for future SWAT Commanders, and his service in these areas is in the highest traditions of the Idaho State Police service.
**Captain Ganske has retired and we thank him for his dedication and service to the citizens of Idaho.
Regional Communications Supervisor Raymond Shute – Letter of Commendation
Corporal David Wesche – Distinguished Achievement Award
On May 10, 2022, Corporal David Wesche checked an abandoned vehicle on US Hwy-12 in Idaho County near the Canyon Creek Trailhead after observing the car several days earlier. Rather than simply towing the vehicle, he tried locating the owner. Due to the extremely remote location, Regional Communications Supervisor (RCS) Raymond Shute provided critical research and information to Cpl. Wesche.
RCS Shute determined a man rented the vehicle in Georgia, but he and his 11-year-old son had been missing for 11 days. Additionally, the father had a felony arrest warrant for custodial interference violations.
While Cpl. Wesche coordinated with the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Forest Service, Idaho Fish & Game, and other ISP personnel to look for the two; RCS Shute worked directly with Georgia authorities, coordinated to secure the involved vehicle for further processing, contacted the Idaho AMBER Alert Coordinator about possibly activating Team Adam to assist with search efforts, and identified resources to help with the search which included helicopters with FLIR capabilities, a search dog, and other needed resources.
The following day, even though a day off, RCS Shute used personal time to coordinate and assist the search and continued as the primary liaison between Georgia authorities and ISP efforts. Cpl. Wesche coordinated law enforcement personnel and located the father and son at a campsite in a remote area. The camp was in deplorable conditions, with very little food and water. Law enforcement took the 11-year-old into protective custody and arrested the father without incident.
The lead detective from Georgia was extremely appreciative and wrote, in part, “It is still hard to believe they were found alive that far from the vehicle in those conditions. It’s a relief to know that there are men and women that refuse to give up… Thank you again for everything, and please pass on my sincere thanks to those involved in the heroic efforts…”
For cooperation, significant assistance, and actions contributing to the safe return of an 11-year-old boy, Regional Communications Supervisor Raymond Shute was awarded a Letter of Commendation.
For significantly contributing to ISP’s mission through unique actions which varied from normal daily operations and the safe return of an 11-year-old boy, Cpl. Wesche was presented with a Distinguished Achievement Award.
Sergeant Andrew Nakashima – Silver Star
On October 13, 2021, Caribou County Deputies were pursuing a driver who had fired shots at the police. The driver was a career criminal wanted for attempted murder in Washington state. Bannock County Deputies were successful in spiking one of the tires on the suspect’s vehicle as it entered their county. The driver became increasingly desperate. He called 911 and threatened to drive into on-coming traffic and kill someone if the pursuing officers did not back off. Idaho State Police Sergeant Andrew Nakashima responded to the call for assistance. Sgt. Nakashima entered the pursuit directly behind the driver. The driver repeatedly drove into on-coming traffic and held his gun up so Sgt. Nakashima could see it.
Recognizing that the driver had already tried to kill a police officer and was now threatening innocent people with the way he was driving, Sgt. Nakashima knew he needed to get the vehicles stopped before innocent people were injured or killed. Despite the danger to himself, Sgt. Nakashima attempted a high-speed Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT). Sgt. Nakashima’s first attempt was unsuccessful, with him nearly rolling his patrol car. After regaining control, Sgt. Nakashima bravely reengaged the driver’s vehicle and was successful in stopping him. Once stopped, the driver failed to comply with Sgt. Nakashima’s commands and pulled his gun, which resulted in assisting officers fatally shooting the suspect.
Sgt. Nakashima’s actions during this incident are to be recognized as embracing the highest ideals of the Idaho State Police. He knowingly exposed himself to great danger to stop a violent criminal. He maintained courageous calm in the face of danger. He bravely performed not one but two high-speed PIT maneuvers on an armed suspect, preventing him from reaching a more populated area.
For knowingly subjecting himself to potential injury or death in order to prevent serious injury or death to other law enforcement officers and innocent members of the public, Sergeant Andrew Nakashima was awarded the Silver Star.
Sergeant Michael Wendler – Life Saving Award
On October 18, 2021, Sergeant Michael Wendler responded to a suicidal subject on the Perrine Bridge over the Snake River Canyon, located just north of Twin Falls, Idaho. Sgt. Wendler observed a female without a parachute outside the pedestrian safety fence holding on, clinging precariously to the railing some 486 feet above the waters of the Snake River. Sgt. Wendler spoke with the female subject, humanizing himself and the issues the female was currently facing, and slowly moved closer to her.
When he finally got close enough to reach through the railing, Sgt. Wendler went to his knees, not wanting her to fear he would grab her and pull her back over the railing against her will. While speaking with the female, Sgt. Wendler noted that she spoke of shooting herself. During their conversation, the female would shift her weight side-to-side and close her eyes. Each time, Sgt. Wendler would say her name and ask her to look at him. Sgt. Wendler continued to speak with her and slowly positioned himself so that he could grab her through the slats on the safety railing if she were to let go.
Finally, after 51 minutes, the female asked what would happen if she came back over the railing. Sgt. Wendler explained that she would need to see a Designated Examiner, who would determine the next steps. Sgt. Wendler assured the female that he would stay with her at the hospital for as long as she wanted. After one final episode of shifting her weight, closing her eyes, and preparing to let go of the railing, Sgt. Wendler spoke to her again, getting her to open her eyes and look at him. The female allowed him to help her climb back over the railing and onto the walkway. Cpl. Hausauer and the other waiting officers assisted Sgt. Wendler in helping her safely back onto the walkway.
In this incident, Sgt. Wendler showed compassion, courage, heroism, and dedication to public safety. He acted in the highest ideals of an Idaho State Police Trooper; for this act, he was presented with the Life-Saving Award.
Detective Ryan Hoxie – Distinguished Achievement Award
Detective Brandon Newland – Distinguished Achievement Award
While off-duty on August 13, 2021, believing a person needed help changing a tire, Detective Ryan Hoxie stopped to assist a pickup and trailer on Old Emmett Road in Gem County. As he approached the trailer, he noticed two males. One male appeared to be a cyclist with a look of panic on his face while the other was presumed to be the pickup driver.
When Det Hoxie identified himself as an Idaho State Police Detective, the pickup driver shouted, “I do not care who you are!” and he physically went after the cyclist. Detective Hoxie intervened and contacted the Gem County Sheriff’s Department. While Detective Hoxie talked on the phone with the sheriff’s office, the driver of the pickup removed a pipe from the bed of his truck and began striking the cyclist. Det Hoxie and Det Newland, who also arrived at the location, physically placed themselves between the two men and allowed the cyclist to retreat to safety.
The driver of the pickup loaded the bicycle into the bed of the truck and drove away. Det Hoxie and Det Newland followed the pickup to a nearby residence where they waited for the sheriff’s office to arrive. The deputy arrested the driver of the pickup for Aggravated Assault and Robbery and returned the stolen bicycle to its owner.
Both Det Hoxie and Det Newland displayed incredible composure and demonstrated selfless bravery in a high-stress situation that potentially saved a cyclist from severe injury or death. For selfless actions that were above and beyond the call of duty and significantly contributed to the ISP Mission of providing lifesaving services to the citizens of the State of Idaho, Detective Ryan Hoxie and Detective Brandon Newland were presented with the Distinguished Achievement Award.
Corporal Aaron Aikele
ISP Corporal Aaron Aikele was working in Bingham County when he heard a call about an unresponsive subject. He quickly responded to the scene and found the victim unconscious and not breathing. Cpl Aikele began CPR and continued for over ten minutes until additional medical personnel arrived. Cpl. Aikele assisted further when the ambulance experienced a mechanical problem en route to the hospital. Cpl. Aikele provided traffic control and helped safely transfer the patient to the second ambulance so they could continue to the hospital. Paramedics who responded credit Cpl Aikele and his quick and continued assistance for saving the patient’s life that day. Corporal Aaron Aikele’s dedication to safety is a great example of the service the men and women of ISP Provide throughout our state every day.
Corporal Steve McClain
Corporal Steve McClain was working in the city of Twin Falls when he spotted flames coming from a residential duplex. As the house began to fill with smoke, Cpl McClain escorted two adults and two children out of the burning structure. After getting them safely away from the flames, Cpl McClain ran to the adjacent residence and began yelling to warn people of the impending danger. When Cpl McClain saw an adult male struggling to get out of the thick smoke; he quickly helped the man and his pet dog get away from the fire. Cpl McClain is a great example of how the men and women who serve with ISP risk their own safety to serve and protect others.
Trooper Bryce Rutland
When ISP Trooper Bryce Rutland heard the call of a possible overdose, he knew he had the training and tools to help. Trooper Rutland responded to the scene and found the person unresponsive and not breathing. He quickly administered a dose of Narcan which was crucial in allowing the individual to hang on until EMS units arrived to continue lifesaving care.
Trooper Rutland heroically responded to a citizen’s plea for help and demonstrated professionalism and empathy as he worked to help save a life.
Regional Communications Officer Justin Cappello
When a crash occurred on the Malad Gorge Bridge last March, it left two people and their pets holding on for their lives hanging as their pickup dangled dangerously over the deep canyon. But what folks may not know is that an ISP Regional Communications Officer was working in a dispatch center miles away helping get the right people and the right tools to the scene to save lives.
It was March 15, 2021, when ISP Regional Communications Officer Justin Cappello answered a call reporting a crash involving a vehicle over the bridge. He quickly recognized the life-threatening situation for the people trapped inside the pickup. Within moments, RCO Cappello had requested multiple emergency units, heavy tow trucks, and additional rescue equipment to respond to the scene.
RCO Cappello’s efforts were extraordinary that day, and this past week, he was recognized with the Idaho State Police Distinguished Achievement Award. During the ceremony, ISP Captain Haight commended RCO Cappello for his dedication and follow-through throughout the lengthy and complex rescue. He also quoted ISP Trooper Taylor, who was first to respond to the scene that day, that, “RCO Cappello did an outstanding job. He coordinated things quickly, and had backup plans for our backup plans”.
RCO Cappello and the other men and women who serve in the ISP Regional Communication Centers are trained to have the unique skill of finding creative solutions for sometimes life-threatening situations. Quick, ‘out-of-the-box’ action under pressure isn’t for everyone. But those serving in the ISP RCOs, remaining calm under pressure and acting quickly when seconds count is what makes the difference for the people of Idaho. It’s how we serve, and how the Idaho State Police helps change and save lives every day.
Trooper Jared Shively
When Trooper Jared Shively arrived on the scene of a serious injury crash, he knew the victim needed help right away and quickly began life-saving measures. He continued performing CPR until paramedics arrived and were able to take over. Trooper Shively’s actions helped save the person’s life.
Trooper Ken Peeples
Trooper Ken Peeples was one of the first to arrive on the scene of a house fire in Idaho Falls earlier this year. Knowing there were victims trapped inside, Trooper Peeples risked his own safety by crawling through thick smoke to locate the unconscious victims. He helped get the victims out of the burning house and also drove the ambulance to the hospital to allow paramedics to provide much-needed medical attention to the elderly victims.
Regional Communications Officer Mark Wise
Regional Communications Officer Mark Wise was working in the ISP Regional Communication Center in Coeur d’Alene when he received a call from a person in Australia. The person was concerned about a friend who made threats to harm themself on social media. RCO Wise used every tool available to help locate an address for the young person in Central Idaho. RCO Wise contacted local law enforcement and medical responders in the area and gave them the information. Thanks to his quick and diligent work, the young person was transported to a local hospital where they are expected to make a full recovery.
Statistical Analysis Center
The ISP Statistical Analysis Center’s report earned nationwide honors. Idaho Criminal Justice Needs Assessment: A Survey of Criminal Justice Practitioners and Community Leaders was selected as a 2020 Douglas Yearwood National Publication Award winner by the Justice Research and Statistics Association.
Hats off to Thomas Strauss, Danielle Swerin, and Misty Kifer, who designed, collected responses, and authored the award-winning report. Their work helps stakeholders throughout the criminal justice system make improvements that benefit communities and individuals throughout Idaho.
Sergeant Todd Orr
Sergeant Todd Orr was awarded an ISP Life-Saving award for his quick action that prevented a violent fugitive from putting other officers or the public in greater danger. Sgt Orr put his own safety at risk by using his vehicle to block the fugitive from driving away. He also acted quickly to disarm the subject before the subject was able to fire at officers. Sergeant Orr’s actions stopped a dangerous situation before anyone was seriously injured or killed.
Regional Communications Center Supervisor DeLisa Orren
In the Regional Communications Center, DeLisa Orren received information from a local law enforcement agency about a missing, possibly runaway juvenile. After looking at the information thoroughly, DeLisa took the initiative to contact the agency and, after discussing the situation, helped the agency contact the ISP Missing Persons Section, and an AMBER Alert was issued. The juvenile was located a short time later by authorities in California. When found, the juvenile was with two subjects with ties to human trafficking. Thanks to DeLisa taking an extra few minutes to find the additional information, the juvenile was returned safely to her family in Idaho.
Trooper Mark Wright
ISP Trooper Mark Wright understands what serving others means. When the local sheriff’s office asked for assistance with a person in crisis, Trooper Wright responded. Being familiar with the person, Trooper Wright was able to talk with them and learn more about what was happening. After several minutes, the trooper became concerned that the person needed medical help right away. Using his training and experience to resolve the situation safely, Trooper Wright disarmed the person and got them safely to medical responders. Thanks to Troopers Wright’s actions, the person received the help they needed.