Kentuckians wanting to get rid of unused prescription medicines can drop them off this Saturday during a statewide “pill take back” program.
The partnership between Kentucky State Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration will include take-back locations at the KSP posts in Bowling Green, Columbia, Elizabethtown, and Henderson, as well as 12 other locations statewide.
State lawmakers are expressing concern over the increasing militarization of local police departments in Kentucky and across the U.S., but legislative options to stem the unmitigated flow of military surplus gear to law enforcement agencies are unclear.
The joint Committee on Local Government heard testimony Wednesday from Pete Kraska, chair of Eastern Kentucky University graduate school of justice studies, and Rick Sanders, chief of Jeffersontown Police. They debated the merits and flaws of a controversial Department of Defense program known as “1033,” which hands out unused military gear to state and local law enforcement agencies around the country.
Kentucky Public Radio previously reported that since 2006 the 1033 program has disbursed tens of millions of dollars worth of military-grade gear to 100 Kentucky counties through a coordinator in the Kentucky State Police. The gear ranges from socks and boots to armored cars and assault rifles, all of it transferred with little to no state-level oversight or requisite training.
Since 2006, Kentucky law enforcement agencies have received armored cars, aircraft, automatic weapons and more from a U.S. military equipment transfer program that has come under fire in the wake of civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.
Data, obtained from the Pentagon by The New York Times, identifies transfers of surplus military equipment from the U.S. Department of Defense's "1033 program,” which funnels surplus gear to state and local police departments, to 90 of Kentucky's 120 counties.
The records span from 2006 to May 2014, and place the value of the items—in various degrees of quality and offered for free to Kentucky agencies by the federal government—at about $38 million. Nationwide, the program has disbursed over $5 billion of equipment since its inception.
The program has been scrutinized by civil liberties advocates, citizens and elected officials across the U.S., who have been critical of law enforcement's military-style response to protests in the Ferguson, a predominantly African-American suburb 12 miles north of St. Louis. The unrest occurred in the wake of the fatal police shooting of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown.
An investigation into the shredding of documents last year by the former director of the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission has concluded that no wrongdoing took place. Kentucky State Police spokesman Paul Blanton tells the Herald-Leader that no criminal act was found and that the case, in his words, “is closed”.
The investigation surrounded Bobby Sherman who returned to his office at the capitol last fall and destroyed documents just two days after he resigned.
Lawyers for two legislative staffers who brought sexual harassment allegations against former State Rep. John Arnold asked for the investigation. They feared papers related to the case may have been among those destroyed.
The State Police has a message for a speedway in northern Kentucky: pay up.
KSP officials say the Kentucky Speedway owes nearly $300,000 for security provided at several major races
Records obtained through a Kentucky Open Records Act by the Courier-Journal show that—since at least summer--the KSP has been sending the speedway emails and letters requesting reimbursement. A letter sent in late December stated that the Kentucky Speedway owed a little over $299,000, and requested payment by mid-January.
KSP commander Rodney Brewer told the paper there hasn’t been any response to the letters or recent phone calls that were placed to the speedway. Brewer says he’s never before been in a position where someone with a contractual obligation with state police refused to pay.
The KSP commander says the money is owed under agreements the agency has with the speedway to provide uniformed troopers for security at events on speedway property.
Kentucky's top state trooper says his agency is suffering from a shortage in manpower.
Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer told a state House committee that years of flat lining budgets and a proposed 2.5 percent cut under Gov. Steve Beshear’s latest spending plan have put a squeeze on the agency.
Brewer says expenses in employee retirement, healthcare costs and fleet maintenance have led to layoffs.
“It caused us toward the end of last fiscal year to start making some reductions, and I was forced with the very difficult decision to lay off those troopers, which was extremely painful,” said Brewer.
Brewer says nearly two-thirds of KSP troopers make less than $50,000 per year.
Kentucky State Police say they’re hoping to prevent residents from losing money in a telephone scam that’s shown up in other parts of the country. Sgt. Michael Webb says criminals overseas are auto-dialing thousands of cell phones inside the U.S. and hanging up after just one-ring.
He says the majority of those calls are coming from the Dominican Republic (809 area code), Jamaica (876), the British Virgin Islands (284), Grenada (473), Aruba (297) and Antigua (473).
“We would certainly encourage folks that if they don’t have someone that they know in one of those area code and are not expecting a call from there, to not answer it and to screen phone calls from any unknown area code right now,” said Webb.
Sergeant Webb says if you see a “missed call” from an unknown area code, it’s not a good idea to return that call, or your account could be charged $20 for the call and $9 dollars each minute. He also encourages people to check their phone bills for any unauthorized charges.
“They need to contact their cellular provider immediately if they find out that there are any unauthorized charges, said Webb. “ Especially for the overseas numbers that would be indicative of this phone scam.”
A woman who fled police officers is dead after her car went off the northbound lanes of I-65 in Warren County and overturned.
Police have not released the identity of the driver pending notification of next of kin.
Franklin Police officers first made contact with the woman Friday after they received a call from a local Wendy’s saying that the vehicle the woman was driving had been parked in the back of the restaurant for over a week. Officers say the woman was uncooperative when confronted, ignored their commands, and drove off.
Despite efforts to stop the car, the driver made it on to I-65 north. Officers with Kentucky State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement tried to stop the driver on the interstate. According to officers, the driver lost control of her vehicle near mile marker 19, went off the road, and overturned. She was pronounced dead at the scene by the Warren County Coroner’s Office.
The investigation into the incident is being conducted by the KSP.
A Kentucky State Police operation to apprehend a record number of drug traffickers has fallen short of its goal.
The KSP launched Operation Black Friday on Nov. 1, and since then they have arrested 339 out of a total 479 targeted offenders.
Although the operation was billed as the largest one-day drug roundup in agency history, the bulk of the arrests were made over the course of the past month. KSP spokesman Trooper Paul Blanton says despite calling short, Black Friday is the largest operation led by the agency, and a third of the targets remain at-large, and might still be caught.
“There are still arrest warrants out there. It’s just the nature of the people that the arrests warrants are for: They’re transient; they’re not staying in the same place. Once several, or once one of the people they normally do business with ends up going to jail, you know, that makes them kind of try and get under the radar," Blanton said.
Blanton did not say how much the operation cost, adding that ‘Black Friday’ would continue until however long it takes.
Those who want to report a crime tip to KSP can now do it using a confidential text. The program is called "Text A Tip" and state police say it'll have many benefits. Nationwide, text a tip programs are being promoted in schools to report weapon threats and reduce bullying.