Body Cameras Not Likely For Kentucky State Police

Jan 19, 2016

Police departments across Kentucky began outfitting officers with body cameras last year, but don’t expect state troopers to join their ranks anytime soon.

Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer said he supports the idea of equipping the agency’s 1,000 troopers with the cameras, but the cost to do so is too steep.

The state’s most recent budget resulted in a 2.5 percent cut for state police, state budget documents show. With those constraints, body cameras are not a top priority for state police, Brewer said.

“My concern has to be providing the best tools for our troopers to respond in a safe manner — and that’s cars and that’s gasoline,” he told WFPL News after a recent appearance in Louisville.

State police troopers drive nearly 30 million miles each year, Brewer said.

Kentucky’s new agriculture commissioner is making the fight against hunger a top priority. Ryan Quarles says one in six Kentuckians is food insecure.

"It is a surprising statistic, and hunger is often one of the ailments that people sometimes hide," Quarles told WKU Public Radio.  "It's an embarrassing part of their lives."

A new Kentucky commission focused on hunger will bring together farmers, food banks, churches, and non-profits to confront the issue. 

Kentucky already has a Farms to Food Banks program that allows the state’s residents to make a donation to food banks on their income taxes.  The same program also lets farmers market their produce that would otherwise not be bought by grocery stores due to slight imperfections.

Lisa Autry

The man charged with killing a young Scottsville girl was back in court Wednesday for arraignment.  Timothy Madden entered a not guilty plea in Allen Circuit Court on charges of kidnapping, murder, rape, and sodomy in the death of seven-year-old Gabbi Doolin. 

The 38-year-old Madden is being held without bond.  Following the hearing, Madden’s attorney Travis Lock explained why he did not ask the judge to set bail for his client.

"In my estimation, it is very unlikey the court would set a reasonable bail that could potentially be met prior to the determination of whether or not the commonwealth is going to seek the death penalty," Lock told WKU Public Radio.

Allen County Commonwealth's Attorney Clint Willis has until March 31 to decide if he will seek capital punishment for Madden.

Doolin’s body was found behind Allen County-Scottsville High School last November.  Her cause of death was determined to be strangulation and drowning.    According to investigators, evidence recovered from the girl’s body matched Madden’s DNA. 

Madden is due back in court July 13 for a pre-trial conference.  Lock said that asking for a change of venue for the trial remains a possibility.

Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs

A veteran's group is spearheading an effort to rename the new Radcliff Veterans Center after a U.S. Navy officer who was the first African-American to become a Master Diver.

Bob Casher of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association tells the News-Enterprise he started an online petition to rename the center after Command Master Chief Carl Brashear a couple of weeks ago.

Brashear grew up in nearby Sonora and retired from service in 1979 as a Master Chief Petty Officer and Master Diver. Casher says he was told by Brashear's son, Phil, that if the center is renamed he will donate memorabilia belonging to his father for display.

The idea has gained support from Dave Jarett of the Joint Executive Council for Veterans Organizations, who will be helping Casher draft a letter to present to the state legislature.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Daniel Wetzel

A Medal of Honor winner is seeking joint custody of the child he had out of wedlock with Bristol Palin, a former reality television personality and daughter of 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Dakota Meyer filed a lawsuit against Bristol Palin in Alaska Superior Court on Monday seeking joint custody of their child, Sailor Grace Palin. The child was born Dec. 23.

Meyer, a former marine living in Greensburg, Kentucky, was engaged to Palin, and the wedding was abruptly called off a week before it was to have been held last May.

Meyer is seeking joint custody and shared physical custody of the child. His lawyer, Kimberlee Colbo of Anchorage, says he wants to be a part of his daughter's life.

Attempts to reach a spokesman for Palin, who was twice on "Dancing with the Stars" and had her own reality show on cable, weren't immediately successful.

Fort Knox

The aging Ireland Army Community Hospital at Fort Knox is being replaced with a new medical clinic.  It’s one of several wins for the Hardin County post contained  in the latest defense bill passed by Congress.

During a visit to Fort Knox Tuesday, Senator Mitch McConnell announced $80 million in federal funding for the project.  The current hospital was built nearly 60 years ago, making it one of the oldest in the Army.  Area residents had been advocating for a new facility for several years, including retired army officer Bob Roush.

"We've grown exponentially in size and number of retirees in the community, and Fort Knox continues to have a good population of active duty soldiers," Roush told WKU Public Radio.

Fort Knox is home to more than 40,000 service members, their families, and army civilians who rely on the hospital for their medical care. 

Other improvements are coming to Fort Knox.  The recently approved National Defense Authorization Act also contains $23 million for school renovations on the post.

Washington’s top Republican is warning against pulling all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky spoke at Fort Knox Tuesday.

Senator McConnell urged President Obama not to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan like he did in Iraq.  After visiting the country twice last year, McConnell said it was the wrong decision for American soldiers to leave Iraq entirely.  He added history shows that keeping a residual force in a country following combat leads to more stability.

"Look at Germany today.  Look at Japan today.  Look at Korea today," remarked McConnell.  "I hope the president won't make the mistake in Afghanistan that he made in Iraq, which was leaving entirely, and we've seen the results of that."

Senator McConnell said coming home will reverse the gains made in Afghanistan over the past 14 years.  He suggested that 10,000 to 15,000 American troops need to stay there to provide more training to the local military and to confront the ongoing threat of what he called “radical Islamic terrorism.” 

Last fall, President Obama announced plans to keep 9,8000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan through most of this year, before dropping the number to 5,500 in late 2016.

Lisa Autry

Tennessee will soon maintain an online registry of convicted animal abusers. 

The effort will start January 1 and will be similar to a sex offender registry where people can check to see if they live near someone who has harmed animals. 

Spokeswoman Amber Mullins with  the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley says the registry also gives shelters more information in the adoption process.

"This registry will be an extra step in making sure the animals we have are going to the best homes possible," Mullins told WKU Public Radio.

Mullins says the registry may help communities on a larger scale since there is often a link between animal abuse and human violence.

Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill this year that created the animal abuse registry, the first of its kind in the country.  First-time offenders will remain on the list for two years, while the names of multiple offenders will stay on the registry for five years.

The state auditor’s office has completed its investigation of a commercial development in downtown Bowling Green. 

The audit released Tuesday shows that a lack of oversight fueled many of the project’s problems.

The audit said both the city and county failed to properly oversee the project that included businesses in a part of the downtown parking garage formerly known as Hitcents Park Plaza. 

The development has created a host of legal and financial troubles, including lawsuits and liens on the property. 

The audit found that lack of oversight and confusing contracts helped create a $4.5 million deficit.  The report also cited the developer’s lack of experience in construction and the use of funds for expenses not permitted by project agreements. 

The audit did not reveal whether any of the issues were criminal in nature.

Coal Industry on Track for Record Low in Mining Deaths

Dec 29, 2015
Flickr/Creative Commons/John Karwoski

The U.S. coal industry is close to setting a record low for on-the-job deaths in coal mines.

There were 11 deaths in coal mines nationwide for the year by late December, putting the industry, which is mired in a period of layoffs and idled operations, on track to best the record low of 16 set in 2014.

Pennsylvania is leading the nation with three deaths, the most in that state since 2008. If the numbers hold it would be the first time since 2009 that West Virginia did not record the nation's most coal mine fatalities.

So far, West Virginia has had just two mining deaths, tied with Kentucky and Illinois, which had the most recent on Dec. 8. An equipment crash underground at the MC #1 mine in southern Illinois killed 20-year-old Tyler Rath, who had been mining for two years.

At a specially called meeting Tuesday night, the Bowling Green Daily News reports Butler County magistrates approved Sheriff Scottie Ward's 2016 budget. The move enabled Butler County's five deputies to be paid and ended a week-long work stoppage that the sheriff called a strike.

The deputies stopped patrolling last week when fiscal court tabled approval of the sheriff's budget and it wasn't clear when their next paychecks would be issued.  State regulations require the money for that paycheck must come from the 2016 budget.

WBKO-TV reports Butler County Judge-Executive David Fields opened the meeting by apologizing for the way things were handled last week.

The sheriff's half million dollar budget was approved last night 4 - 1, with fiscal court voting to add about $192,000.

Magistrate David Whittinghill, who moved to table the sheriff's budget last week, voted against it. He was quoted as saying the sheriff's department already gets enough money, including what the county pays in.

Interstate 65 southbound in Hart County will be closed for several hours starting Wednesday night for water drainage work.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says the closure at mile point 67 will begin at 10 p.m. and continue through 6 a.m. Thursday.

Through traffic should use Exit 91 and take the westbound Western Kentucky Parkway to Exit 77A onto the southbound William Natcher Parkway, rejoining I-65 in Bowling Green.

Other traffic must use Exit 76 or Exit 71 to U.S. 31-W and rejoin I-65 in Munfordville. The cabinet advises not using exits before Exit 76 due to bridge work on U.S. 31-W that will cause additional delays.

After Butler County Sheriff Scottie Ward's budget was tabled until December 28 by the county's fiscal court Monday night, Ward said all his deputies will be on strike until a budget is approved. In a Facebook posting after the meeting, Ward wrote, "I'm truly sorry but I can't force my guys to put their life on the line for no money."

Ward said he gave each court member a copy of his budget to look over November 10th. But after an hour of questioning, a motion was made by court member David Whittinghill to table the document. Sheriff Ward called the meeting "a circus".

The sheriff's office will remain open to collect taxes and for court security.

Ward said he cut his budget five thousand dollars from last year and, still, no one in his department got a raise while all other Butler County employees got a 2% raise.

The sheriff, in a separate posting, also listed the home phone numbers for all fiscal court members and urged residents to call them to support the sheriff's department.

Lisa Autry

A Scottsville man charged with raping and killing a young girl was indicted Friday by a special grand jury in Allen County. 

Timothy Madden was formally charged with kidnapping, rape, sodomy, and murder in the death of seven-year-old Gabriella Doolin. Madden is scheduled to appear in Allen Circuit Court for arraignment on January 13.

Doolin’s body was found November 14 in a creek behind Allen County-Scottsville High School.  The cause of death was determined to be strangulation and drowning.  According to an arrest warrant, Madden’s DNA matched evidence recovered from Doolin’s body. 

Madden and the girl’s parents were acquaintances.

Police: Suspect Fatally Shot by Kentucky County Sheriff

Dec 10, 2015

Kentucky State Police have identified the law enforcement officer who fatally shot a suspect as a county sheriff.

In a statement on Thursday, state police said Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins shot 66-year-old Chris E. Higdon, who was advancing toward him and another officer with a firearm. The statement says Chaffins fired his weapon at Higdon three times.

Police said Chaffins and Maj. Corey Knochel responded to the home in Leitchfield on Wednesday afternoon after a domestic disturbance with a shot fired was reported.

Kentucky State Police say the shooting remains under investigation.