12.22.2015

TRADITION AND THE HOLIDAYS

Does your family have traditions that they routinely practice during the holiday season? Each Christmas Eve, my family attends an afternoon church service and then scrambles to a local theatre to watch a movie before hurrying home for a late dinner and a night of gift giving. Each year we laugh and try to recall how and why this tradition of a ‘holiday movie’ evolved. A close friend of mine tells me that every year their Christmas dinner consists of oyster stew and chili. She has no recollection of how it all began but their kids, now grown, have come to demand this strange culinary spread. Another friend of mine throws a Christmas Eve party for friends, neighbors and family. She bills it as the “holiday stress free zone” having witnessed the tradition originate with her mother.

As strange as some of our American traditions may be around the holidays, foreign countries often rival or exceed our routines. For instance, Austrian children live in fear of Krampus, a Christmas devil who’s said to beat naughty children with branches. Germans hide a pickle in the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. The first child to find it in the morning receives a small gift. And thanks to a powerful advertising campaign in 1974, many Japanese families eat Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas Eve!

Tradition is defined as “…the handing down of beliefs, legends, customs, and practices often from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.” Although their origins are sometimes lost to history, at one time they had a specific meaning and purpose.

There were many reasons that led up to the origins of the Kentucky State Police in 1948. Providing professional and reliable law enforcement to rural areas of the state was the cornerstone of our humble beginnings. From those early days, we quickly developed a tradition of helping those in our communities that desperately need assistance. Our outreach takes many forms beyond the traditional police mission such as sending hundreds of children to Trooper Island each summer or providing gifts to thousands of needy kids at Christmas through our ‘Shop with a Trooper’ program. Over the past four years we have collected over 354 tons of food for local food banks, homeless shelters and churches through our ‘Cram the Cruiser’ project.


Our tradition of service runs deep throughout the history of our agency and is recognized across the state, as evidenced by the strong level of public support we enjoy. Our actions make a positive impact in ways that we may never be fully cognizant of. I’m reminded of a quote that I use when teaching customer service to new employees during the ‘Welcome Aboard’ program: “The way we do business is often times more important than the business we’re in.” Borrowed from the Hilton Hotel chain, it speaks volumes in regards to how the Kentucky State Police operates.

Although our spirit of service and servant leadership takes place year round, it’s never more evident than during this season of giving. As we close out 2015, I’m thankful that I am part of such a robust and caring agency full of people who are truly committed to changing the lives of those in need.

12.18.2015

KSP SEEKING BUDGETARY ASSISTANCE TO ENHANCE SAFETY

In the aftermath of Trooper Cameron Ponder’s murder, I was asked by the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection to research safety enhancements that might provide additional protection for our agency. Specific interest was centered on bullet resistant laminates for automobile glass. I testified yesterday concerning our findings and the following is a summation of my recommendations.

The first distinction that must be made is between bullet proof glass and bullet resistant glass. In reality, no glass is truly bullet proof. Even glass that is used by the Secret Service and high level dignitary protection details can be compromised depending on the caliber of weapon and ammunition type. Thus our efforts focused on laminates that claim to provide a level of protection on side windows, not windshields. After contacting the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), no definitive information was gleaned regarding the validity of such a product. A national survey revealed that no police agency in North America was currently utilizing such a laminate. Ultimately, it was determined that this technology is in its’ infancy and has yet to be tested, developed and researched to provide any meaningful protection for our personnel.

The remainder of my testimony centered on safety proposals that might be of assistance to our protection. The following is a list of those issues:
• A state-of-the-art indoor firing range at our new academy campus for enhanced training. Since our inception in 1948, the Kentucky State Police has never owned or controlled its’ own firing range. This facility would allow us to operate and train under varying conditions throughout the calendar year. Estimated cost: $2.1 million dollars.
• An infusion of 250 marked cruisers into our fleet each of the next two fiscal years. Currently half of our marked fleet has over 100,000 miles, 136 of which have over 150,000 miles. Estimated cost: $7,145,000 each fiscal year.
• Flashlights mounted on our existing Glock side arms. This relatively new technology mirrors the same concept as we currently utilize on most of our shotguns and automatic rifles. Freeing up the officer’s weak hand during low light tactical situations would greatly enhance our safety. Our current holsters would have to be replaced adding to the cost of this proposal. Estimated cost: $179,000
• A two prong pay raise for all Chapter 16 sworn personnel. Troopers currently rank next to last on our neighboring state salary survey for beginning pay, and fifteenth when compared to starting salaries with in-state local law enforcement agencies. Commercial Vehicle Officers rank out even lower. To better compete in our recruitment and retention efforts, I have asked for a $4000 across the board raise for all sworn personnel. Estimated cost: $7,840,000 annually.

Additionally, our pay scale goes relatively flat after reaching the ‘Senior Trooper/Officer’ status. I have proposed a series of longevity raises to rectify this situation. These incremental 5% raises would occur at the 10, 15, and 20 year mark, mirroring and building on the existing senior trooper statute. These proposals will help us attract and retain experienced personnel as we move into the future. Estimated cost: $300,000-$400,000 per fiscal year.


It should be noted that these requests are in our current budgetary proposals and are exclusive of any across the board raises that we and our Chapter 18 personnel may receive. It is also independent of the proposal to increase the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund (KLEFPF) from $3100 to $4000 annually of which I fully support.

11.05.2015

KSP FOUNDATION ESTABLISHED

Have you ever heard of a police foundation? Police foundations began to garner interest and gain momentum a few decades ago within larger departments throughout the United States. Although they can be structured in several different ways, most police foundations are charitable 501C3 organizations that are totally independent of the agency they are serving and representing.

While the purpose and mission of each group may vary, most are concerned with providing external assistance to the department to help further its mission. For instance, many provide training and some specialized equipment that is not otherwise available through the normal state or federal budgetary process. Some foundations center on expanding their community outreach efforts through youth initiatives, safe driving courses and public awareness. Obviously, all of these programs strengthen the professionalization and understanding of our work while reducing crime and improving the quality of life in our state. State police and highway patrol agencies in Tennessee, Indiana, Oregon, Illinois and Louisiana have created their own foundations with notable success.

Examples of assistance include the Louisville Metro Foundation paying for their annual awards ceremony at the Galt House each year and awarding up to five scholarships for supervisors to attend the Administrative Officers Course at the Southern Police Institute. Unique equipment purchases have been made by other foundations such as ballistic vests for their canine units, equine assistance for mounted patrol and honor guard uniforms. A nearby state recently provided classes for marriage enrichment and monetary investment strategies for their personnel. As you can see, the possibilities are far reaching.
The purpose and mission of our foundation will be multi-faceted. However, its underpinning will be focused on helping the families of troopers that have been injured or killed in the line of duty and providing financial assistance to Trooper Island.

All of the monies raised for the Kentucky State Police Foundation will be from public donations and private business entities that are supporters of our agency. Ultimately the board of directors will be comprised of leaders from various businesses in the private and public sector. Eventually a director will be hired with private funding that will work for the foundation to facilitate special events, charitable giving and long term sustenance.

As we get closer to our first official board meeting at the end of this month, I’m excited about the opportunities that this presents to our agency. Advanced leadership development, ‘Shop-with-a-Trooper’, Citizens Police Academy expansion, specialized investigative training, enhanced recruitment initiatives and select equipment are just a few of the possibilities that come to mind. We have already banked nearly $50,000 to jump start this endeavor and hope to make an announcement in the next few weeks about a large endowment that the foundation is working on. More information will be forthcoming over the next few months as we construct a website and begin to formalize plans about a special event next summer. I hope that you are as excited as I am regarding the new Kentucky State Police Foundation and the possibilities that this will present to our agency as we move into the future.

8.03.2015

KSP ENCOURAGES PUBLIC TO DOWNLOAD NEW MOBILE APP

Community oriented policing has been the cornerstone of our reputation and success since our inception in 1948. Our involvement in the rural areas we service continues to strengthen our partnerships throughout Kentucky. Many of you have heard me state that “…technology does not drive our mission. Our mission should drive the technology.” Simply stated, I have always been an advocate of technology if it streamlines our workload and contributes to our mission of keeping Kentucky a safer place to live and travel.


Obviously, our social media efforts over the past few years have tremendously increased our contacts within the communities we protect. For the past several months, our Public Affairs Branch has been working to expand our outreach to new levels by developing a new app for mobile devices. This new social media platform enables us to provide a wide range of services to citizens of the Commonwealth and across the United States.

This new app had already been downloaded 1200 times before we formally announced its release at a press conference earlier this week. Built on a robust platform, it offers numerous services to the end user. It allows citizens the ability to report crimes, access a multitude of forms and send us confidential tips in various formats. For instance, the photo icon allows the user to take a photo of something suspicious and send it to our agency immediately.

The ‘See Something, Say Something’ voice memo icon enables a citizen to record information about potential criminal activity and forward the recording to us. This reporting mechanism could assist us in solving a multitude of crimes and provide invaluable intelligence, particularly on homeland security issues. Additionally, the ‘Crime Tip Form’ icon provides a text field for citizens to forward information about criminal behavior in their neighborhood or workplace.

Additional information is provided concerning traffic, weather conditions, forms, CCDW, sexual offender registry, Kentucky’s Most Wanted, and links to our other social media outlets. This app is so sophisticated that it allows us to send push messages to a specific geo area from our headquarters building. The uses of this feature allow us to target a select group of people to notify during a prison escape, traffic back up or an Amber Alert. It also allows the user to pinpoint their exact location should they be lost or not familiar with their surroundings before calling the nearest KSP Post. The app is free and available to anyone with a mobile device.

The global smartphone audience totaled 1.75 billion users in 2014 and will overtake fixed internet usage this year. Statistics tell us that 82% of mobile phone use is spent utilizing a mobile app. I urge you to spread the word about this amazing new technology as we continue to advance our efforts to remain immersed in the communities we serve.
Download it today at ‘KSPOLICE’ on your iPhone, iPad, and Android phone.

5.15.2015

'THE TROOPER' MONUMENT IS UNVEILED!

Exciting things are happening in our agency! We recently dedicated the new Academy facility and a few weeks later unveiled the bronze trooper statue that sits at the focal point of our compound. It was an amazing way to kick off Police Memorial Week and I wanted to share my remarks with those who were unable to attend.

Today is the day where two journeys converge….

The first journey began in 1948 when our agency was created. It has been a journey of hardships and triumphs. A journey that forged the agency you see today. An agency whose cornerstone beliefs are honor…integrity…service…sacrifice…and humility. These qualities that are timeless and never go out of style. This journey continues as we constantly renew and forge strong partnerships within the communities we serve. This journey never ends….

The second journey began just ten short months ago. It began with a discussion…that turned into a dream…that today turns into a reality. It was a dream of having a special place…a place that symbolizes all that we hold sacred. A special place that speaks to WHO and WHAT the Kentucky State Police is all about. A special place that speaks loudly to the oath of office that we pledge our allegiance and our lives to.

This special place would have to be larger than life to pay homage to those men who donated their lives to protect us. It would have to embody the commitment and sacrifice of each individual who has worn our uniform…..and those who will wear it in the future.

This second journey of fundraising for this incredible piece of sculpture is nearing an end. I’m pleased to announce today that we are very close to our fundraising goal of $100K! A glimpse at our fundraising endeavors is an amazing story in itself.

It all began with a rim to rim trek across the Grand Canyon by me, LTC. Jack Miniard and his brother in law, Jamie Ragg. It was intended as an awareness effort to kick start our campaign for this project. We were amazed at the outpouring of media coverage and financial support that it garnered. Rarely have I had a prouder moment in my career than when we finished our trip and unfurled the Kentucky State Police flag on the South Rim summit, all the while carrying the photos of our fallen heroes with us.

Our plea to the public for a $1.00 dollar donation turned into much more as we raised over $15 thousand dollars as a result of this trip. The community support for this project has been overwhelming. From one thousand dollar donors to the little elderly woman from Eastern Kentucky who sent a crumpled dollar bill with a note that read…”I don’t have much but I’m glad that I can help. God bless you all for what you do.”

The people who make up the Kentucky State Police have been fully committed and engaged in this project. Their innovation and determination has taken many shapes and forms including a Bunco party, a pancake breakfast at an Applebee’s restaurant, a leadership conference and luncheon, a basketball tournament, T-shirt sales and the raffling of an incredible customized Harley-Davidson motorcycle….and the list goes on.

Our efforts would have been much more difficult and challenging with out the assistance of the Kentucky State Police Professional Association and the Post #5 Citizens Police Academy.

Last but certainly not least is the overwhelming support received from our corporate partners:
• Commonwealth Credit Union
• Delta Dental of Kentucky
• Equestrian Events, Inc.
• The Keeneland Association, Inc.
• Man O’War Harley Davidson of Lexington

The generosity of these businesses has been the capstone of our fundraising efforts. But just as importantly, they are a visible reinforcement of the strong bonds of support that we have throughout our state. We are eternally grateful and forever in your debt. All of the support we have received has served as a strong reminder of just how deeply entrenched we are in this Commonwealth that we have sworn to protect.

You may notice some young trees that are planted on the Academy grounds. Each cadet class plants a tree before they graduate. I tell them that each tree represents the deep root system that we have in all 120 Kentucky counties. Most people only see and appreciate the shade and abundance above ground. The secret to a healthy tree is the deep, penetrating root system it possesses that we never see. It provides us stabilization during storms and comfort during uncomfortable times.
Our role…and our chosen path are no different. We are expected to be a source of protection and comfort for people who desperately need protecting.

There are many stories behind this statue, some of which may be lost to history. But I wanted to share a few with you today:

The first story is about the incredible artist behind this piece, Mr. Benjamin Victor. As you will see in a few minutes, his work is extraordinary. His attention to detail is amazing. The process involved dozens of phone calls, e-mails and nearly 200 photographs that were sent to him along with a full KSP uniform during the creation of this masterpiece. He is a humble craftsman whose workmanship is unparalleled. Benjamin, thank you for your patience, indulgence, and painstaking detail that you put into every square inch of this statue.

The second story occurred in April 1972, when Trooper James McNeely, accompanied by Officer Roy Childs navigated a boat onto the Kentucky River on an attempted rescue mission that ended in disaster. Shortly after putting in, the boat capsized drowning both men. Officer Childs’ body was recovered nearly three weeks later near Tell City, Indiana. The body of Trooper James McNeely was never located.

During the formative stages of the statue, we received an e-mail from one of our Sergeants at the Hazard Post. He had discussed the project with several troopers in his squad and they were wondering if the statue could possibly be made to resemble Trooper McNeely, stating that he was the only trooper we had never brought home. The idea resonated with everyone involved with the project and we quickly contacted Mr. Victor who expertly made the resemblance a reality.

If you notice, the trooper is walking away from the academy…..into the world to protect and serve. His journey begins and ends at the thin gray strip of concrete that you see behind him. Symbolic of the quote from Commissioner Ted Bassett when he told the Legislature in the 1960’s that the Kentucky State Police are the thin gray line between law and lawlessness in many parts of our state.

The last story that I’d like to share involves a Kentucky State Police challenge coin that is welded inside the chest cavity of the sculpture. It is emblazoned with our core values and sits near where a trooper’s heart would be. You can’t see it….but it’s there. Within the Kentucky State Police we often refer to “the heart of a trooper.” It is easily understood amongst our ranks. Heart is always doing the right thing for the right reason….even at the cost of personal pain.

Heart can’t be created….it can be made bigger and stronger but it can’t be manufactured….you either have it or you don’t….
Heart is being there until the job is finished…..

Heart says, “If you call me I will come and help you, regardless of your color, your religion, your social status or your poverty level.

Heart says, “I will lay down my life for you if necessary, even though I don’t even know your name.”

….That’s what this statue means to us…….

2.20.2015

DEFINING THE LEADERS OF TOMORROW

A recent study asked leaders what most influenced their development. Not surprisingly, 85% of them acknowledged that “the influence of another leader(s)” topped the list. Another piece of research by the Harvard Business School revealed that less than 20% of America’s top executives felt that they currently had the existing internal talent to move their companies forward should they need to leave.

KSP recently finished the first session of our Legacy Leadership group. Comprised of a dozen Kentucky State Police Captains and Lieutenants, this three part development course has one goal in mind: to prepare the leaders of tomorrow to someday take over our jobs. Although no one who successfully completes the course is guaranteed a command staff position, our hope is to provide greater leadership insights regarding the executive level challenges that we have confronted and will face in the future. I’m convinced that this type of development is essential to our future success as we maintain our status as the premiere law enforcement agency in the Commonwealth.

John Maxwell refers to this as the “Law of Reproduction.”

It is evident in a variety of leadership positions but none more so than the sports world, particularly the National Football League (NFL). It is astounding to look at the phenomenal number of winning Super Bowl coaches that worked under the tutelage of only a few mentor coaches. Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch is responsible for developing dozens of leaders that went on to successfully run other Fortune 500 companies. History tells us that truly great companies spend an inordinate amount of time mentoring and coaching future leaders. If done correctly, it can have a long-term rippling effect and should be taking place at every level in our agency.

Are you preparing someone to take over your job someday? The thought is daunting but is critically important if we are to continually move forward. The following are a few tips for you to think about as you help coach those around you:
• Model the Way---‘walking the walk’ is about guiding principles and values. Having clear expectations of those who work for you. Always realizing that deeds speak louder than words and spending time with your people is the most valuable part of your leadership day.
• Inclusion---when feasible, always include stakeholders in the decision making process. Providing transparent information builds trust and confidence.
• Challenge the Process---continually encourage people to challenge the process and be on the look out to fix broken systems or policies. This includes sharing best practices throughout the agency.
• Teaching Moments---these can come at odd times and you must be ready to capitalize on them. It may come in the form of a story or a personal experience of your own and can have a lasting impact on those who are willing to listen.
• Encouragement---support takes two forms: personal and agency wide. Genuine support is invaluable for development on both fronts.
• Selflessness---putting the agency, followers, and peers before your own needs and wants. Great leaders are not self-absorbed and are willing to share their insights and abilities. They are also willing to implement new ideas and give credit to those from whom they originate.

Sharing knowledge and experience is viewed by some as vulnerability and a surrender of power. Paradoxically, nothing could be further from the truth. We will only continue to grow and prosper if we blend personal humility and strong professional will at all levels of our agency as we develop those around us.

12.19.2014

A CHRISTMAS TRADITION

I’ll have to admit that I like fruitcake…good fruitcake. Despite the bad reputation and jokes about this strange culinary tradition of being used for door stops, I welcome the taste each holiday season. Admittedly, it may be the most re-gifted present on the planet. I seldom eat a piece of fruitcake that I don’t think of a story a friend conveyed to me years ago.

It seems that his Aunt Martha made fruitcakes each year to give as presents to family and friends. Dozens of these cakes were carefully wrapped, tied off with red ribbons, and distributed as the Christmas holiday neared. Most of the family pretended to like the fruitcakes to appease the old lady but never ate a bite of them during family gatherings. Aunt Martha never inquired or pressed the recipients for reports of their flavor, perhaps sensing that many became souvenirs or book ends. Regardless, the tradition continued for years as she delivered them with a huge smile and a proud embrace.
Eventually, Martha’s health declined and she lost her sight, forcing her to move into a nursing facility. During a visit by her nephew, she reminisced about how much she missed making her famous fruitcakes and handing them out to relatives. She confided in him that the tradition had gone back for two generations, remembering how she had helped her grandmother as a little girl in the kitchen during the holidays. She told him that she knew that a lot of folks don’t like fruitcake but that wasn’t what was truly important. With tear filled eyes, she confided that the tradition of “cooking up some love and sharing it with people” meant the most to her.

Her nephew found the long lost recipe and picked up all of the ingredients at the supermarket that afternoon. The next day, Aunt Martha’s assistance and knowledge provided the guidance needed for his unskilled hands to bake and wrap the annual tradition. Aunt Martha beamed as she handed out the cakes with newfound energy, despite her frail condition. At her funeral a few months later, relatives conversed and traded stories about her love and generosity. Copies of the fruitcake recipe were handed out with many of the family vowing to carry on the tradition.

Despite some of the anti-police sentiment that we are currently witnessing across the country, it’s comforting to know that the Kentucky State Police tradition of helping those in need continues. It may take many forms such as raising 232,011 pounds of food for hungry families in our ‘Cram the Cruiser’ campaign or taking needy kids shopping in the ‘Shop with a Trooper’ program. Our presence and influence continues to be felt and appreciated across the Commonwealth because of your generosity and kindness. We continue to be deeply committed in our mission to make rural communities a safer and better place to live, regardless of what’s going on in the rest of the world. That unwavering sense of community involvement brings me stability, comfort, and joy this Christmas season, much like Aunt Martha’s fruitcake.