Barren County's New Sheriff is No Stranger to the Department

Aug 5, 2013

Kent Keen speaks to community members following his introduction as the new sheriff of Barren County.
Credit Lisa Autry

When Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer began looking for a new sheriff, she didn't have to go far.  She choose Kent Keen, who retired from the Glasgow Police Department and joined the sheriff's office a year ago as a school resource officer.  

Monday's announcement attracted a standing room- only crowd inside a Barren County circuit courtroom.  A full contingent of uniformed officers stood behind him as Keen pledged to run the department by the book.

"I have three guidelines that I operate off of, and that's the KRS (Kentucky Revised Statues), the Barren County Sheriff's Department policy manual, and the Bible, just to be honest with you," explained Keen. "Some God-given common sense may go a long way, folks."

Noticeably present at Monday's announcement was Deputy Aaron Bennett, who stood trial in May alongside former Sheriff Chris Eaton. Bennett was also accused of using excessive force on a suspect in 2010 and lying about it to federal investigators.  Bennett was acquitted on all charges. He told WKU Public Radio that seeing Keen sworn in felt like the beginning of a new era at the sheriff's office.

"I worked at the sheriff's office for six weeks before all this came up. My reputation and my past has always been spotless and clear, but I've had to bite my tongue and lay low the past three years," said Bennett. "We're gonna continue forward, and especially with someone like Kent Keen as sheriff of Barren County, it gives me nothing but hope and faith in this community."

Eaton was convicted on two felony counts of witness tampering and was sentenced to 18 months in prison, forcing him to resign as sheriff.  Keen will serve out the remainder of his term which ends next December.  Beyond that, Keen says he isn't sure about running for a full term.