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Kastein Receives AAA State Trooper of Year Award
South Dakota Ag Connection - 06/12/2018

A South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper, who has been praised for his professionalism and leadership, has been named as the 2018 South Dakota State Trooper of the Year.

Trooper Jerry Kastein, who is a member of the Watertown squad, was honored during a Wednesday awards luncheon in Rapid City. The award, which is sponsored by AAA South Dakota, is presented to a trooper for their continued demonstration of exceptional service to the agency, citizens and communities.

"Since he joined the Highway Patrol in 2012, Trooper Kastein has performed at a high standard in all that he does; whether patrolling the highways, mentoring younger troopers or serving his community," says Col. Craig Price, superintendent of the Highway Patrol. "His desire to do his best in everything he does underscores why he is so deserving of this award."

Trooper Kastein, who grew up in the Watertown area, joined the Highway Patrol after three years of active duty with the U.S. Army, including service in Iraq, and four years with the Kansas National Guard. He is part of the Highway Patrol's East River SWAT Team and serves as a field training officer, active shooter instructor, Honor Guard member, firearms instructor, and DPS Strategic Planning Committee team leader. He also has volunteered for several other duties.

The nomination received for Trooper Kastein reads: "Trooper Kastein epitomizes what we look for in a South Dakota state trooper and exceeds those expectations on a regular basis. He is professional and fair. He volunteers for extra duties while still delivering high quality enforcement activity. He is a committed husband, father and leader within the community. He is an asset to the South Dakota Highway Patrol and the citizens of our state."

Trooper Kastein also was praised for leading the community projects done by the Watertown Highway Patrol. One project was helping a World War II veteran stay warm in the winter.

"He saw the opportunity to be able to help a World War II veteran and organized the effort to resupply the veteran's firewood supply that will heat his home this winter," reads another nomination. "While it was a group effort it would not have been possible without Trooper Kastein's commitment and community involvement to see this project through. It was a special moment to see the gratitude and emotions of the veteran and his wife while we were working on this project."

This is the sixth year that AAA South Dakota has sponsored the Trooper of the Year Award. Marilyn Buskohl, manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA South Dakota, says the organization is honored to be part of the award.

"This program every year reminds me that we have many outstanding law enforcement officers in South Dakota who protect and serve us every day," she says. "While we can never thank them enough for what they do, this award is a chance for us to show our appreciation.

Other finalists for the award were Trooper Derek Schroding of the Northern Hills Squad and Trooper Dan Hup of the Brookings Squad.

Past winners of the award are Troopers Rob Mayer, Chris Spielmann, Josh Olson, Todd Albertson and Cody Jansen.

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