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.

12.08.2014

CIVILIAN SUPPORT STAFF APPRECIATION

The month of October is officially dedicated as employee recognition month. It is a time of introspection that provides us an opportunity to pause and recognize the outstanding workforce that supports our mission everyday. We recently held our annual “Kentucky State Police Civilian Awards Luncheon” to highlight some incredible accomplishments on the part of our Chapter 18 employees. I have included excerpts of my remarks at the request of some of those in attendance:

“Throughout history we see hope used and discussed in a variety of settings…in the Bible and numerous books and publications of today. In every instance HOPE IS A VERB. It is always action oriented….

Hope is confidence of a better tomorrow…..Hope is realistic and balanced of things not yet seen….Hope allows you to survive the evils of a German concentration camp…Hope whispers to try it one more time when the situation screams to give up….

Without meaningful hope, we live in a world with no compass and no direction. I have compiled a list of my hopes for you as we celebrate your achievements today:

• I hope that you have fun at work and laugh whenever the opportunity presents itself.

• I hope you know that today we are celebrating the many “little” things that you do everyday that add up to big things.

• I hope that your everyday progress is as important to you as the end result.

• I hope that your supervisor gives you recognition often…not just during employee appreciation week.

• I hope that you love your job and look forward to the challenges that your work brings each day.

• I hope that you derive some inner satisfaction and fulfillment from what you contribute each day.

• I hope that you feel empowered to do your job each day.

• I hope that you know that you are a major stockholder in our company called the Kentucky State Police.

• I hope that you are continuously challenging yourself and looking for ways to build a better mouse trap.

• I hope that you know that a small detail is sometimes the difference between success and failure.

• I hope that you are sharing your knowledge and passion with those willing to listen.

• I hope that you are grooming someone to take over your job someday.

• I hope you celebrate the small wins.

• I hope that you realize that tough times never last but tough people do!

• I hope that you hope…

• Above all I hope that you know how much I and the Command Staff appreciate your hard work, sacrifices and dedication to our agency everyday. We are truly great because of you.”

It is estimated that in large police agencies it takes a minimum of two civilian support personnel for every trooper/officer to do their job. If you do the math, our agency is no exception. There is seldom a day that passes that I don’t recognize the talent, sacrifice, and dedication of all of our employees. The people who work under the Kentucky State Police flag are truly the best that state government has to offer.

THE TROOPER PROJECT: TPR. JAMES MCNEELY

Trooper James McNeely and Officer David Childs discussed the latest movie release that afternoon on their way to the boat ramp at the Kentucky River. "The Godfather" was a historic thriller about the mafia and their influence in America. It had a star studded line-up but they would have to wait until it hit the discount theatres. With each of them having a wife and three kids, the expense of a first showing was out of the question. After all, last Sunday had been Easter and there wasn't a surplus of funds leftover. The conversation shifted to their kids as "A Horse with No Name" by America played in the background on the AM radio in the truck.

William Greenwell, a civilian, had been silent amidst the discussion. He had been visiting with his close friend McNeely when the attempt to locate call had come in from the Frankfort Post. Two teenage boys from Louisville had gone on a camping trip the day before in their canoe on the Kentucky River and hadn't been heard from since their departure. Greenwell had been invited to accompany the duo after the call had come in. Unaccustomed to such bantering, he was a bit anxious about the rescue mission with the rainfall that had occurred since Thursday. He failed to understand that these 'casual discussions' were a calming distraction for these two veteran officers. They were fully aware of the dangers of such a rescue attempt in this rain swollen river. The newscaster announced that Jack Nicklaus had just won the Masters as Childs turned off the radio and backed down the ramp.

The men discussed how swift the current was as the rain continued to fall. Usually the 18 foot craft with its big Evinrude could handle such conditions, but today it was straining to keep up. With Trooper McNeely operating the throttle, Officer Childs was at the bow watching for the teenagers while keeping a vigilant eye out for large debris that could damage the boat. The conditions were treacherous but they carefully proceeded on in the intermittent rain, committed to finding the two youth.
A short time into their trip the river took control of the craft and slammed it into Lock #4 causing it to capsize. Within seconds, the boat broke apart sending all three men into the raging current. Greenwell quickly surfaced, grabbing a branch near the shoreline until he was rescued by the lockmaster’s son. He later recounted that “…it happened so fast that we didn’t know what hit us.” Trooper McNeely and Officer Childs were never seen alive again. Officer David Childs’ body was located twenty days later near Tell City, Indiana. The body of Trooper James McNeely was never recovered. He was the eleventh Kentucky State Trooper killed in the line of duty, one day after celebrating his sixteenth year of service.

The date was April 8, 1972, and newspaper editorials would remind the public of “the collective debt that we owe to members of the public safety arena that risk their lives in such a thankless profession.” Meanwhile, two widows and six children were left behind to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

We continue to make progress towards our goal of erecting a bronze trooper statue at our academy compound. This incredible sculpture will represent all of the troopers and officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in our agency since its inception. It also serves as a permanent tribute to every member of our agency: past, present and future. During early discussions with the sculptor, it was decided that the features and appearance of the statue would possess a generic quality that would represent everyone….yet no one individual in the agency. That thought process changed a few months ago when we received an e-mail from one of our posts.

It seems that a Sergeant assigned to the Hazard Post had been discussing the statue with some of his squad. The conversation eventually focused on the death of Trooper McNeely and the fact that he was the only trooper that we had never brought home. Would it be possible for the sculpture to bear his resemblance? The idea was electrifying and resonated with everyone at Headquarters involved in the project. Photographs were quickly sent to the sculptor in order for the finished piece of art to bear a vague, but distinct resemblance to Trooper McNeely.

It should be noted that this statue is not a lone tribute to Trooper James McNeely. However, the symbolism of this gesture is powerful and adds to the layers of thought and imagery surrounding this iconic piece of art.

As we enter into the season of Thanksgiving let us continue our efforts to finish this project, honoring all of those who have gone before us, including the trooper that we were never able to bring home.


10.28.2014

THE HONOR HIKE: RIM-TO-RIM

Lieutenant Colonel Jack Miniard and I recently returned from our rim-to-rim trek of the Grand Canyon. You may recall that we began planning for this adventure several months ago in an effort to raise funds and support for the Trooper Project. Amazingly, our efforts raised over $15,000 to kick off this fundraising event. Carrying the names and photographs of each of our agency’s fallen officers, we embarked from the North Rim during the early morning hours of August 22, 2014, after a brief video tribute to our fallen bretheren.


To say that the 18-mile hike that day to Phantom Ranch was challenging is an understatement. Facing a thirty degree grade change during the first three miles of our descent was brutal. The beginning temperature was a crisp 52º but soared to more than 105º late in the day as we made our way through Phantom Canyon, better known to hikers as ‘the box.’ Knees and hips took a beating and our hands were raw from the much needed support provided by the hiking poles. Despite the challenges, our training paid off as we soaked in some of the most incredible vistas on the planet.


We reached Phantom Ranch after 12 hours of hiking, spending the next day exploring some of the local trails including a visit to the Colorado River and a swim in Bright Angel Creek which unfolded behind our cabin. We embarked the next morning and began our ascent up the Bright Angel Trail. It is approximately 9 ½ miles in duration, increasing more than 4100 feet in elevation before completion. More than ten hours later we reached the trailhead of Bright Angel on the South Rim. Tired, but exuberant, we exchanged ‘high fives’ as tourists gathered around us. As we unfurled the KSP flag and revealed the photos of our fallen heroes, several individuals asked us about our efforts and a few later made donations to the Trooper Project.


A foursome from Texas was gracious enough to take our photograph utilizing our cameras. After learning more about our 30 mile trek, one lady took our photo stating, “What those guys just did was amazing. I’ll never be able to do that but I want a picture of someone who did!” It was indeed a proud moment as we enjoyed our fifteen minutes of fame. However, we knew that the true hero status belonged to those troopers and officers who had given their life in the line of duty, dying for something they believed in with all their heart and soul.


The last few lines in my journal read: “We shoot the last GoPro video of the flag and photos of our fallen comrades. We silently take a moment to stare at the great abyss that we have just crossed, reflecting on our sacrifice…and theirs. The day…and the moment…truly belong to them.”

7.07.2014

HONOR HIKE: FOR ALL THAT SERVE AND FOR THOSE WHO GAVE ALL

I first visited the Grand Canyon when I was about eight years old. Although our journey that summer to California was eerily similar to a Griswold family vacation, it provided much laughter and memories in the years that followed. Of all the sights that trip generated, none is more vivid in my mind than my first glimpse at the Grand Canyon from the South Rim. Even as a little boy, this world wonder left me spellbound and amazed. Although our trip was short because we had to get back on the road, (note Griswold likeness!) I remember gazing at the trails and river below through one of those telescopes that cost you a hard earned quarter. Climbing into my Dad's old Cadillac, I daydreamed about what it was like at the bottom of this incredible spectacle.

I have visited the Grand Canyon several times since that day and its beauty and grandeur continues to be magical. Created by millions of years of erosion, this mystical work of nature contains thirteen different ecosystems below the rim level. As the crow flies, it is over a mile down before reaching the Colorado River, equating to many miles when hiking the main trails. Of the 5 million people who visit the Grand Canyon each year, less than 3 percent ever venture below the lookouts on the rim.


Several months ago, Lieutenant Colonel Jack Miniard and I began formalizing a plan to hike the Grand Canyon from rim to rim. Fascinated by the concept, we began a training regiment to check this childhood dream off of our bucket list. We decided early on that we would 'hike for a cause.' A few weeks ago we decided that our journey would be dedicated to those individuals in our agency that had given their life in the line of duty. Both of us will be carrying the photos and names of each trooper/officer who died defending the citizens of the Commonwealth when we embark in late August.


As you are aware, we are currently involved in a major fundraising effort for a 7 1/2 foot bronze sculpture of a trooper that will occupy a prominent place in our new academy courtyard. Handcrafted by world renowned sculptor Benjamin Victor, it will represent all who have fallen in the line of duty as well as those who have faithfully served under the Kentucky State Police flag since our inception. It will be a stunning piece of art that will represent the sacrifice, courage, and integrity that our agency was founded upon. The total cost of this project will be funded through private donations and fundraisers without the benefit of tax dollars. This is where I need your help and support.


Although the entire cost of the “Honor Hike” trip will be borne by us, we are asking supporters of our agency to donate one dollar for our fundraising efforts to help pay for this bronze sculpture. The entire trip will encompass nearly twenty-five miles of rugged terrain before completion. I suppose our trip will be representative of many things that we hold sacred in our agency psyche: preparation, struggle, perseverance, determination, victory and sacrifice.
The Kentucky State Police has been very blessed with strong community support since our inception in 1948. Would you help make this project a reality by taking the time to donate a dollar? Would you tell 3 of your friends about our efforts? Progress regarding our trip will be updated on our website and agency Facebook page. Checks can be made payable "The Trooper Project" and sent to:



The Trooper Project
919 Versailles Road
Frankfort, Kentucky. 40601


For additional information about the bronze sculpture and photographs of our upcoming trip, visit http://www.thetrooperproject.com/ and click on the attached YouTube link. All contributions are tax deductible and donations can also be made through PayPal. Thanks in advance for your ongoing support of the men and women who make up the Kentucky State Police---past, present and future.

5.23.2014

For Those Who Have Served, Will Serve and Who Gave the Ultimate Sacrifice

The Academy transformation is rapidly moving forward. At the time of this writing, the walls and trusses have been raised on the administration office building and the footers have been poured for the multi-purpose building which will house an additional classroom, kitchen, cafeteria, and 8000 square foot gymnasium. The builders, who have been working on select weekends, tell us that they are on schedule with an anticipated completion date of January 2015. It is truly an exciting time as this first phase of our training compound is coming to fruition.

As I have travelled around the country during my career, I've noticed that most state police/highway patrol agencies have a special place in their training compound. Many times it is in honor of fallen troopers and represents the true core values of the agency. It is a place that each member shares and holds special in their heart, mind, and soul. As we planned and reflected on our new training facility, I decided that we also need and deserve such a place…a place that is sacred to each of us that train there and carries with it the heartbeat of our purpose. It should be emblematic of our deep commitment and represent the sacrifices that every past, present and future member makes while defending the citizens of our state. It should be powerful and instantly speak to the virtues of our organization.


After much planning and research, Benjamin Victor, a sculptor, was located in South Dakota. At 35, Mr. Victor is the only living sculptor to have two statues in the United States Capitol. His impressive and detailed works are displayed with pride across the world. He is currently working on the preliminary design of a seven and a half foot bronze sculpture of a Kentucky State Trooper that will take into account every detail that makes our uniform the historic and iconic symbol that it is. When completed, the sculpture will set in the middle of the academy courtyard on a custom granite base. I have included photographs of a Rhode Island State Trooper sculpture that Mr. Victor finished a few years ago. Standing nine feet tall, the statue is amazing in scope and detail. It is truly a masterful work of art in every sense of the word.

Such a lasting and monumental project comes at a price and this one is no exception. The completed project will cost $100,000 and take 8-10 months to complete. Obviously, our building budget does not have the funding for such a project nor would it be prudent to utilize state funds even if it were available. The entire amount of monies for this project will have to be raised from private contributions and fundraising activities within the agency. It will take a tremendous amount of effort and determination for us to raise this capital.


We have enlisted the aid of the Kentucky State Police Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association to help coordinate these efforts. We have already received commitments from a few corporations that should exceed several thousand dollars. As a formalized plan of action takes place, I ask for your assistance in helping us raise funds for this incredible piece of art that will stand for generations to come. "The Trooper Project" will memorialize those who have served and those who will serve tomorrow and those who gave their lives in defense of our state.


With your help we can make this project a reality. Brochures and additional information will be coming out in the next few weeks. Donations can be made to:


The Trooper Project
919 Versailles Road
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
All contributions are tax deductible.


A powerful bronze sculpture "For all that serve, and those who gave all" seems more than appropriate at this juncture in our history.

3.13.2014

Kentucky State Police Is Looking For New Troopers

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a Kentucky State Trooper? Arguably, it is one of the most demanding career paths that you could ever undertake. If you ask most troopers why they chose this profession, many would begin by telling you that they simply wanted a career that would allow them to help people in need and make a difference in the communities where they live. However, if you get close enough to those who wear a gray uniform, they will confide in you that they had a deep desire to be a part of something great. They wanted to dedicate their lives to something that had depth and meaning. In short, they took the path less travelled.


I often refer to the Kentucky State Police as the Marine Corps of law enforcement in the Commonwealth. I say this with no ill will towards our local partners in law enforcement with whom we have excellent partnerships. I make this statement because it takes a special breed of man or woman to take on the challenges of this career path. The training that you’ll receive with us is some of the best in the country today because the citizens we’ve sworn to protect deserve the most highly trained individual that we can provide.
It doesn’t get any more real than the physical and mental scenarios that you are confronted with during this 23-week period. Demanding and militaristic in nature, it is a life-changing experience that will push each cadet to new limits.


Arresting criminals, busting drug dealers and reducing traffic fatalities are certainly a large part of our mission, but the everyday ebb and flow of a road trooper is much more. We are often called upon in times of statewide tragedy such as floods and tornadoes when local communities need our help. Troopers are respected leaders within their counties who play a vital role in the quality of life where they live, work and raise their families. As stated many years ago, the state police are often the thin gray line between chaos and society.


The minimum requirements and benefits for becoming a trooper are detailed on our website at www.kentuckystatepolice.org or you can contact our Recruitment Office at 502-782-1861 for more information. So are you interested?

Henry Ford once said “…if you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re probably right.” The job of a trooper is a difficult one, but at the same time incredibly rewarding and fulfilling for the right individual.


So do you have what it takes to be a Kentucky State Trooper? We’re not looking for just anyone, but we might be looking for you.