Fallen officer provides inspiration for new MSP award

Published 9:02 am Friday, February 19, 2016

Corporal Sam Mapes was killed refusing a prohibition bribe on May 1, 1927.

His actions are now an inspiration for a new Michigan State Police award for proactive police work.

The MSP award recognizes members who excel in looking “past the traffic stop” to identify more serious crimes and for investigations closed with felony arrests.

The award, new for 2016, is not given for any single investigation, but instead awarded to the top five percent of troopers in each district for their outstanding performance of duty and personal commitment to excellence in proactive criminal patrol and criminal investigations.

The 2016 Col. Sam Mapes award recipients for the5th District MSP posts, which includes Niles Post, are:

• Trooper Todd Workman, Wayland

• Trooper Keegan Riley, Marshall

• Trooper Cameron K. Sweet, Niles

• Trooper Ernest Felkers, Wayland

• Trooper Matthew Berry, Marshall

• Trooper James A. Janes, Niles

• Trooper Benjamin A. Mahaffie, Niles

• Trooper John C. Moore, District Hometown Security Team

• Trooper Lena Wileczek, Paw Paw

• Trooper Blaine Bachman, Wayland

(Bold print are Niles troopers)

Readers, know that these troopers are setting the example for law enforcement and are out there in your community keeping you safe and enforcing Michigan laws.

Mapes was killed while investigating a vehicle believed to be transporting illegal liquor.

In the afternoon of May 1, 1927, Mapes stopped two vehicles suspected of hauling boot-leg liquor. The driver of one of the cars offered Mapes a bribe of $300.

Mapes refused the bribe, stopped a motorist and asked him to call for assistance. While Mapes was talking to the motorist, the suspect came up behind him, grabbed his weapon, and fired point blank range into Mape’s body.

The assailant took the mortally wounded officer’s weapon and fled.

The suspect, Charles Coffey, was apprehended in Chicago, after an intense investigation, police chase and rolling gun battle.

He was returned to Michigan, tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Mapes was the seventh MSP officer to die in the line of duty.


Rob Herbstreith is a community service trooper with the Michigan State Police Niles post. Questions or comments can be emailed to TrooperRob53@yahoo.com