9.18.2014

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 Coloradao 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 aound 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.

2.03.2014

The Triple Filter Test

Did you ever hear the story of the wise Greek philosopher Socrates?

It goes something like this:
One day an acquaintance ran up to him excitedly and said, "Socrates, do you know what I just heard about Diogenes?" "Wait a moment," Socrates replied, "Before you tell me I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Triple Filter Test."

"Triple filter?" asked the acquaintance.

"That's right," Socrates continued, "Before you talk to me about Diogenes let's take a moment to filter what you're going to say. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?" "No," the man said, "Actually I just heard about it."

"All right," said Socrates, "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about Diogenes something good?" "No, on the contrary" the man responded.

"So," Socrates continued, "You want to tell me something about Diogenes that may be bad, even though you're not certain it's true?"

The man shrugged, a little embarrassed. Socrates continued, "You may still pass the test though, because there is a third filter, the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about Diogenes going to be useful to me?"

"No, not really."

"Well," concluded Socrates, "If what you want to tell me is neither True, nor Good, nor even Useful, why tell it to me or anyone at all?" The man left bewildered and ashamed.

The story reminds me of some discussions that I had with my counterparts from across the country a few years ago as we wrapped up our training with the FBI National Executive Institute training in Gettysburg. One of our final speakers discussed character (the drive to achieve) and values (the capacity to care) in leadership development. These two traits are acquired in two different ways: innately and through acquired learning.

Innate traits include intelligence, self-confidence, perseverance, high energy, embracing change, and curiosity. Conversely, acquired traits encompass the areas of vision, expertise, teamwork, diversity, good communication skills, delegation, and innovation. All of these and more are essential for our development as effective and powerful leaders. Arguably, the cornerstone of all of these is integrity.

Integrity means respecting your colleagues and agency even when times are rocky. It is not about covering up wrong-doing or unethical behavior. It is about giving people the benefit of the doubt until you are sure of the behavior or motive in question. And even if true, always applying the three filter test previously mentioned. It’s interesting in this social media age we live in how quick people are to spread anonymous venom about a person or an agency. Although the wisdom of Socrates dates back over 1600 years ago, I think he was way ahead of his time.

1.16.2014

Kentucky Highway Deaths Lowest Since 1947

Did you know that the year end traffic fatality count for Kentucky in 2013 was one of the lowest in recent history? Although 639 people lost their lives on our roadways last year, it was the fewest number of deaths our state has experienced since 1947. This reduction is even more amazing when you look at the increased number of vehicles on our roadways and the number of miles driven each year. Amazingly, over twenty-one billion vehicle miles were driven through the Commonwealth last year. There are numerous reasons for the drastic reduction in traffic deaths in Kentucky:

• First and foremost is the increased usage in vehicle restraints. In 1995, vehicle occupants in Kentucky were wearing their seatbelts about 54% of the time as compared to a usage rate of nearly 85% in 2013. Combined with advancements in shoulder restraint devices, this has significantly increased the survivability rate for those involved in a crash. Nearly half of the people killed in Kentucky are not seat belted which validates national research that you are fifty percent more likely to survive a crash if you are properly restrained in your vehicle.

• Child Safety seat usage by parents has increased significantly because of statutory requirements and increased education by law enforcement and health care professionals. Nearly 98% of the children under 40 inches in height we see riding in a vehicle today are in a federally approved child safety seat. Although we desperately need a new booster seat law governing older children, we have seen a drastic reduction in child deaths because of child safety seats.

• Because of increased enforcement, stronger statutes, and better community awareness, our impaired driving fatality rate has been nearly cut in half over the past two decades. The overall number of crashes involving an impaired driver has been reduced nearly 25% in the past fifteen years.

• The teenage crash rate has also plummeted thanks to educational/training programs like the mandatory Graduated Licensing Program, “Alive at 25” and the “Drive To Stay Alive” program hosted by the Kentucky State Police each year.

• Vehicles today are safer than they have ever been. Various safety advancements coupled with a better ‘crush factor’ give motorists a higher chance of survival by ‘riding down’ the crash versus coming to an abrupt stop.

• Improved highway engineering and the addition of crossover barriers on interstates have contributed greatly to the number of survivors who make it home after a crash that otherwise would have been a head-on collision.

Despite the recent reductions, there is much left to do. Although we have seen a significant drop in fatalities involving a drunken driver, there still were 148 people who lost their lives because of these irresponsible criminals. Although our seatbelt usage rate continues to climb, statistics show that the night time usage rate amongst 21-35 year olds is extremely low. What can you do to make our roads safer?

• First and foremost is to make sure that EVERYONE in your vehicle is properly restrained…….every trip…..every time.

• Drive defensively and always obey the posted speed limits.

• Drive sober or make plans to designate a sober driver well before you go out for the evening. For more information, go to our website and sign up to be a “HERO” in our designated driver campaign.

• Report an impaired or erratic driver to our toll free number, 1-800-222-5555.

• Avoid unnecessary and dangerous distractions like texting. Twenty percent of ALL crashes that take place in the Commonwealth are attributed to a distracted driver.

As we enter into 2014, the Kentucky State Police and our partners continue efforts to reduce traffic fatalities. However, history has shown us that the goal of zero deaths in our state is impossible without the help and cooperation of our motoring citizens.


10.29.2013

KSP Safe Schools Active Shooter Survival Program

Several months ago I formed a Safe Schools Committee comprised of some of our best trainers, tactical personnel, researchers and media advisors. The purpose of the Committee was to examine our current practices and to equip our school personnel with the tools, resources and training needed to handle an active shooter incident. Our efforts also included how to detect early warning signs that could possibly stop an incident before it becomes active and to continually develop and look at best practices from around the country. This included refresher training for our agency’s response to active shooter situations. Ultimately, the Committee involved our external partners from various school districts and local law enforcement agencies. Earlier this month, over seventy troopers participated in a ten hour block of Active Shooter Survival Training. This internal component is intended to instruct school teachers and administrators on how to respond and provide them options in the event of an attack. Each post has a designated school safety coordinator that will help coordinate and teach the school based training components. It became apparent that there is no “one size fits all” training model. Since each school has different needs and expectations regarding safety, our model involves four levels for principals and staff to choose from:
LEVEL 1: Our agency will provide on-site visits to the requesting school where a review of the schools current plan of action will be conducted and evaluated. Recommendations for school protocols, if requested by schools officials, will be provided. LEVEL 2: We will assist and participate in school ‘lock down’ drills. Provide feedback and additional information to school officials based on the ‘most likely’ police responses and needs. LEVEL 3: Provide an on-site visit and walk through assessing strengths and weaknesses of the facility. Provide target hardening information to school officials via the KSP multi-layered school security checklist. LEVEL 4: Provide a three-hour block of professional development training for school personnel designed to give options for consideration when facing an active shooter. Training will consist of classroom instruction along with the opportunity to take part in realistic scenarios to build their confidence to survive an active shooter incident. The training has already been utilized by school districts in western and eastern Kentucky and received extremely positive reviews. All of the Safe Schools Committee members are to be commended for their hard work and insight on this cutting edge program. To learn more about this initiative and the press conference held today, visit our website or click on the following link to watch the video explaining the program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oejg13JSLOk