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.


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.


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.


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


Leading from the Heart

We’ve all heard the old adage that you should lead by example, but what does that really mean? Sergeant Jill Henderson, the Army’s first female Drill Sergeant of the Year routinely works seventeen hours a day. Even in the rain and mud, she usually can be found in a crisp uniform and spit-shined shoes. She aligns her actions with her values. “I lead from the heart” she says. “The more I take care of people, the more they take care of me. If you stay in the Army you will become a leader. It’s very important that you never forget where you came from.”
Arguably nothing is more powerful than a leader’s example. A study performed by UCLA found that the behavior most related to employee productivity was ‘modeling the way’ by their leadership. Kouzes and Posner tell us in their book, “The Leadership Challenge”, that there are five essential aspects to their behavior and actions that leaders need to be conscious about in their efforts to align shared values:
• Calendars---how you spend your time is a clear indicator as to where your priorities are. When I used to teach at the college level, I asked my students to list two of the most important things in their life. It could be relationships, activities, hobbies, etc. The second part of the exercise involved them telling me how much time that they spent each day towards these endeavors. As you might imagine, their actions did not always align with their values. What you do speaks loudly as to what you really value.
• Critical Incidents---as leaders, critical incidents provide us an opportunity to teach and impart valuable knowledge. I often hear commentary at retirement receptions about how a field training officer, senior detective or supervisor took the time to teach rather than to chastise a unit early in their career. Although these learning moments can’t be planned, they are moments in time that offer a leader the chance to improvise if they are on the look out for such opportunities.
• Stories, analogies, and metaphors---if done correctly, leadership examples are passed down through stories and organizational metaphors over time. Stories are easily understood and often long remembered. Our agency is infamous regarding stories that are passed down, whether it is from post to post or generation to generation. Research tells us that information is more quickly and accurately remembered when first presented in story form.
• Language---leaders understand and are attentive to language. They know the power of words. Questions are equally powerful and help focus attention on important issues. They illustrate where the agency is headed and what is important to the leader. From customer service to integrity to innovation, questions can provide the platform for daily organizational direction.
• Measurements---we’ve all heard that what gets measured is what gets done and it’s true. However, I believe it is one of the hardest transitions for a new supervisor to make. For whatever reason, there is a natural resistance by many leaders to hold those under their command accountable. Research has shown time and again that measurement and honest feedback are essential to increased performance and overall improvement.

History has demonstrated that there are three central themes in the values of highly successful, strong cultured organizations:
1. High standards of performance
2. A caring attitude towards people
3. A sense of uniqueness and pride

Sound familiar? As Kentucky State Police enters into its 65th year of service to the Commonwealth, we continue to work diligently towards practicing what we preach.


Effective Leadership Requires Moral Courage

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to be selected to attend the National Executive Institute Program hosted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The class was comprised of forty chiefs across America from the country’s largest police agencies. One of the highlights of the program was a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. A special tour and discussion took place that centered on how quickly police values eroded when the military began their persecution of Jews throughout Berlin and Vienna.

The line between police and military blurred and a police state readily emerged. It was a time of helplessness for citizens who had no one to trust or protect their everyday freedoms. Despite the carnage that followed in the coming years, there were numerous stories of courage that eventually surfaced.

Paul Ernst Grueninger was born and raised in Switzerland and left his job as an elementary school teacher after being called to active duty in 1914. After leaving military service he joined the police force in 1925 and became commandant of Saint Gallen Canton. After the union between Austria and Nazi Germany in 1938, the Nazis began to organize a series of brutal attacks on Jews living in Vienna. Thousands of Jews began their frantic flee from Austria to the safe sanctuary of Switzerland. Even though the Swiss government had decided to stay neutral during the war, officials ordered border police to refuse admittance to Jewish refugees.

Defying his own government, Grueninger permitted nearly 4000 Jews to enter the country at his checkpoint and refused to accept any bribes or gratuities for his efforts. Although he attempted to conceal his actions by back dating passport stamps and falsifying reports, the Swiss government eventually discovered what he was doing. Pending a criminal inquiry, he was suspended from duty in December 1938.

In early 1940, Grueninger was found guilty of forging state documents. He was dismissed from civil service, thus losing his pension and government subsidized apartment. After his dismissal, he struggled to find employment for the rest of his life working odd jobs where he could find them.

A year prior to his death in 1972, the Yad Vashem Remembrance Authority recognized Grueninger as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations” for his heroic efforts to rescue Jews before the war. Likewise, the district court in Saint Gallen overturned his conviction in 1995 and the town named a square in his honor, recognizing him as a national hero. The story emphasizes the power that one person can have when he or she does the right thing regardless of the personal pain it may cause.

The overall experience and visit to the Museum made me realize how fragile democracy can be and how quickly it can be compromised. The merger of Nazi forces with the policing mechanism vividly illustrates that when police officers violate their oath, there are always consequences. The Holocaust is probably the most extreme example of just how far reaching and horrific those consequences can be. Historic proof that moral courage continues to be the cornerstone of effective leadership.


Kentucky is a 'HERO' State

By all accounts, John Elliott was no ordinary kid. He was senior class president and graduated fourth in his class at Egg Harbor Township High School. He played offensive tackle on the football team and also lettered in tennis. He was the kind of student that teachers and parents knew was going to make a difference in the world. John went on to the United States Naval Academy and graduated with a degree in systems engineering with a merit honor and the rank of ensign in May 2000. He was slated to attend Naval Flight Officer School in Pensacola, Florida. John Elliott was on his way to fulfilling his childhood dream. Those dreams vanished on July 22, 2000, when John and his girlfriend were hit head-on by an intoxicated driver. John’s girlfriend was in a coma for several days and the intoxicated driver of the other vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. John was travelling home to celebrate his mother’s birthday when the collision occurred. A copy of a Faith Hill CD intended as a present for his mom was found in the wreckage. As tragic as this story is, the nightmare for the Elliott’s was just beginning. It seems that Michael Pangle, the intoxicated driver, had been arrested earlier in the evening by the New Jersey State Police for driving under the influence with a blood alcohol level of .21. But less than three hours later, after being bailed out of jail by a friend, Michael Pangle was back behind the wheel again in his SUV. The head-on collision with John’s Nissan Altima happened a short time later.

Before disconnecting his son from life support, Bill Elliott told his son that he loved him and that he was the best son a father could ever have. He vowed that he would do all that he could to prevent this from happening to someone else.

Bill Elliott was true to his word. In addition to getting tougher DUI laws passed in New Jersey, Bill and Muriel Elliott launched the “HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers.” The campaign takes its name from the HERO of the Year award that John Elliott earned in his senior year at the Naval Academy that recognized his stellar character and leadership skills. The mission is a simple one: prevent drunken driving tragedies by promoting the use of safe and sober drivers.”

The goal of the Elliott’s is to have over one million people in America sign the pledge to be a designated driver. With successful launches in New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia they have already posted some impressive results.

This month we launched the “Be a HERO Campaign” in Kentucky. Bill and Muriel Elliott were present to help us in this endeavor. In addition to Governor Beshear signing a proclamation, we were joined by law enforcement officials, bar/restaurant owners, Alcohol Beverage Control, Office of Highway Safety and the malt beverage and distillers association.

This proactive approach is more than just another designated driver campaign. It is a long term, collaborative effort that combines a strong designated driver message with rigorous DUI enforcement across our state. The logo is easily recognizable and is applicable whether you work in a dry or wet county.

The Kentucky law enforcement community does an incredible job of reacting to impaired drivers. Last year we arrested 25,841 drunk or drugged drivers. Imagine our span of effectiveness if we can prevent those drivers from ever getting behind the wheel. I believe it is our sworn obligation to do everything in our power to prevent another nightmare from happening to a family like the Elliott’s. I hope you’ll join me in our efforts to elicit support from the business community and the motoring public to make this campaign a success.

To learn more about the Hero Campaign, check out our website or go to www.herocampaign.org.