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.


It Can Wait.

Would it surprise you to know that distracted driving continues to be the leading contributor to motor vehicle crashes throughout the Commonwealth? Although we continue to combat impaired drivers and those who chose not to wear their seatbelts, the distractions within our vehicles are killing Kentuckians more often than anything else. Of all the distractions we face while driving, texting while driving is arguably the most dangerous of them all. Recent studies indicate that a driver who is texting is 23 times more likely to be involved in a wreck.

As you may be aware, a “texting while driving” statute was passed by our Legislature and became effective on July 15, 2010. However, due to a grace period that would allow motorists to become familiar with the law, enforcement action by law enforcement did not begin until January 1, 2011. To underscore the importance of this issue, Governor Beshear signed a proclamation on October 10, 2012, declaring it as a “Don’t Text and Drive Day” in Kentucky.

Studies show that sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph a vehicle travels the length of a football field in 4.6 seconds. That is like driving 100 yards – essentially blind.

With the comfort of modern day vehicles, many drivers don’t realize how much ground they are covering at relatively low speeds. Think about this example that I used to give when teaching teenage driving classes: It takes the average human being ¾ of a second to perceive a threat, and another ¾ of a second to react to the threat. This is what actually takes place before our brakes even begin to engage. Keeping that in mind, we are covering 80 feet per second while travelling at 55 miles per hour. Our total stopping distance at that speed on level, dry pavement (including our reaction time) would be 265 feet! Recent studies indicate that a text of approximately 100 characters forces us to take our eyes off the road for over 4 1/2 seconds.

Texting and driving is not just a teenage phenomenon. It is rapidly becoming a problem amongst drivers of all ages. Not only is it against the law, but every time you do it – you take the life of another person in your hands.
I continue to hear testimony of families who have lost loved ones who were texting or hit by someone who was texting. Their stories are devastating and continually illustrate how senseless these tragedies are. The next time you are tempted to accept a text or even a phone call while driving, make a mental assessment of just how important that message really is and if it can wait. The life you save could very well be your own.

For more information on the "It Can Wait" campaign click http://itcanwait.com/


KSP TV is Hitting the Airwaves

Do you recall experiencing something really neat as a child and the building anticipation until you could tell the story to your friends? The stories probably ranged from a silly dog trick to a solar eclipse.
It still happens to us as adults, albeit a bit less frequently. As human beings we are geared to share our stories with others. The age of social media has certainly changed the way that we share those stories. In today’s world, our tales can be told to thousands, perhaps millions of people within minutes. Nearly a dozen years ago I conceived a plan to tell the story of our agency that perhaps was a bit ahead of it’s time. Fascinated by the “Kentucky Afield” television show hosted by the Department of Fish And Wildlife, I decided that a television show about our agency hosted by Kentucky Educational Television (KET) would be entertaining and informative. It would profile and bring to life many of the programs and initiatives of the Kentucky State Police. The concept was simple, but difficult and expensive to implement. At an estimated cost of over $1 million dollars a year to get off the ground, the idea was eventually shelved. However, I kept the file that I had researched and knew that someday the story of our agency would be told. With the advancements in social media, that day is now.
I’m pleased to announce the creation of “KSP-TV”. This program will begin its monthly debut August 1, 2012, on YouTube. This info-newscast will feature the multitude of talent and programs inside the walls of KSP. Each show will be three to seven minutes in duration and will be linked to our website. Not only will the show generate an incredible amount of public interest, it will act as a catalyst for our recruitment efforts in every section of our agency.
The topics are endless: a day in the life of a cadet, what is DNA?, Trooper Island, commercial vehicle truck inspection process, Special Response Team, preparing for a murder case, prepping a state police cruiser, traffic crash reconstruction, capabilities of our canines, dynamics of the driver testing process, combating internet based crimes, marijuana eradication………. and on and on and on.
Each broadcast will conclude with a highway safety tip or crime prevention thought. If you have story ideas that you would like to share, contact Ms. Sherry Bray in Public Affairs at sherry.bray@ky.gov. The time to tell our story is now because it’s just too good not to share with the world.

“In 6,000 years of storytelling, people have gone from depicting hunting on cave walls to depicting Shakespeare on Facebook walls.” — Joe Sabia


KSP Unveils 3D Laser Scanner - Changing the Way Crimes are Solved

I have often said that technology should never drive our function; our function should always drive the technology we use. Simply put, the mission of the Kentucky State Police should never be altered or adjusted because of new gadgetry or devices. Emerging technology is useless to us if it doesn’t support our mission and purpose making our jobs more efficient and streamlined. With that said, we have acquired a new piece of equipment that will revolutionize the way we process crime and traffic scenes.
Thanks to a Violence Against Women Act grant, our agency now possesses a state-of-the-art three dimensional scanner that provides investigators with a 360 degree panorama of crime and crash scenes. The Leica ScanStation C10 is a portable laser that is capable of capturing thousands of points per seconds to a range of 900 feet. This laser mapping system is an incredible piece of technology and is currently the only one in the Kentucky law enforcement community. With a price tag of over $200,000 dollars, it is reported that less than one hundred of them are currently being used by law enforcement in the United States.
Not only does this process provide an incredible visual in the courtroom, it minimizes the potential for human error. Just as importantly, the Leica system minimizes man hours over the traditional total station approach. A scene that traditionally required as many as a dozen officers now only requires two or three officers and are often cleared 40-50 percent faster than mapping techniques utilized in the past. The speed of mapping enhances officer safety by allowing us to open roadways quicker and divert traffic for shorter periods of time. Not only does the Leica system provide a realistic visible record of the scene, it also provides investigators the ability to access exact measurements between objects in the diagram. This feature is built into the software component and requires no measuring on the part of the officer. The Leica system literally provides a digital footprint that allows us to determine a reliable and accurate depiction of the actual event.
Our Collision Analysis and Highway Safety Branch has already utilized the system over a dozen times, with the most recent being a trooper involved shooting in Breathitt County. Aside from criminal and traffic cases, this system has untold uses and possibilities: vulnerability and threat assessments, post blast investigations, fire scene reconstruction, and shooter trajectory analysis. If you would like to see firsthand how the Leica system operates, click on the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZB9uY1ddiI&list=PLDEE6EDA89797110A&index=4&feature=plpp_video Despite austere budgetary times, our agency continues to set the trend nationally when it comes to state of the art investigative techniques.


A Son's Remembrance of the Badge

Early in 2010, I received a call from our Supply Commander, Captain Jeff Mayberry (retired). Jeff advised me that he had found an interesting artifact regarding KSP history and wanted to share it with me. Later that afternoon, he stopped by my office and produced a crumpled brown envelope with a faded handwritten inscription that read Trooper M. Brady. The envelope contained a badly burned Kentucky State Police badge, unit #480. I instantly recognized the badge as belonging to Trooper Mack Brady who was killed in the line of duty on November 9, 1966. It seems that the badge had been placed in a safe after his death and had never been looked at or accounted for since that time. Trooper Brady, a seventeen year veteran, was in route to a domestic dispute when he swerved to avoid hitting another vehicle that had failed to yield the right of way. His cruiser ran off the road and hit a bridge abutment, exploding in flames. He perished in the blaze, unable to escape his new cruiser that he had just picked up that morning. The badge remained in my desk drawer for several months as I agonized over how to present this to the family. Many of you know that Mack’s son, Ed Brady, was a career trooper with us and is now the Sheriff of Henderson County. I had known Ed for many years and finally decided that the badge should be given to him in a private setting. In May 2010, I drove to Henderson and met with Ed in his office. After some small talk, I advised him that I had a very special gift for him. I produced the badge wrapped in simple white tissue paper. Ed sobbed emotionally after unwrapping it, asking me to tell him the full story of the badge’s origin. After I recounted the story, Ed told me about that fateful day. He was fifteen years old and remembers vividly his dad getting called back out to answer a domestic violence call. He assured him that he wouldn’t be gone long and would return later after supper. News of his death devastated his family and affected them forever. Ed stated that he always wondered how the badge presented to his family at the funeral was in such pristine condition after that horrific crash. It became clear that the Command Staff at the time substituted a new badge, not wanting to add to the family’s grief by presenting them with his original badge in such poor condition. As Ed and I both cried, he told me that I would never know how much this meant to him and his family. I told him that as part of his KSP family, I knew the sacred significance that lay behind this badge.
Ed quickly apologized and stated that of course he realized that I understood. As he held the badge gingerly in his hands, he softly stated that it was hard to believe that this was resting less than four inches from his dad’s heart when he died. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. Let us never forget those who have went before us and those who continue to serve to protect home and family across the Country. Top Photo: Trooper Mack Brady. Bottom Photo: Henderson County Sheriff Ed Brady.


Motorcycle Safety Via Social Media

We have been working on a social media blitz about motorcycle safety. Usually, we start advocating this message in May, but with the unseasonably warm weather this year, we are seeing more cyclists out on the roadways.

Unfortunately 2012 has already shown a spike in motorcycle-related crashes with a 69 percent increase from 2011 for the same time period. For this reason, we have decided to utilize our best asset for reaching the public – social media. With over 40,000 followers on Facebook©, 2,900 followers on Twitter© and an active YouTube©, Flickr© and Blogger© account, the agency plans to blast out motorcycle safety messaging via these platforms.

Our main goal is to increase driver recognition of motorcycles in traffic, while at the same time encouraging cyclists to engage in the overall safe operation of their bikes.

We are encouraging motorcyclists to wear safety gear including gloves, boots, jacket an approved DOT helmet.

KSP will offer a free three-hour motorcycle safety seminar on May 17, 2012, taught by a certified Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach.

We will host our 5th Annual 'Motorcycle Safety Awareness Day' on Friday, June 22, 2012 here at headquarters in Frankfort. This is always a great day with cyclists from across the state attending to participate in a police escorted ride through scenic Kentucky. We also have safety exhibits and motorcycle vendors set up and an awesome smoked barbecue!

For more information about the KSP ‘Motorcycle Safety Day’ program or the free motorcycle safety clinic please contact the Kentucky State Police at (502) 782-1780.

If you are interested in checking out the KSP social media sites, you can click on the following links:
KSP Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kentucky-State-Police/103979825675
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/kystatepolice
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kentuckystatepolice/
KSP Website: http://www.kentuckystatepolice.org/



February 23, 2012

Have you ever wondered how a police agency chooses their police vehicle? The answers vary and obviously depend on the needs of the agency regarding the type of service delivery and geographical terrain that they routinely patrol in. Price, functionality, style, performance, and appearance are also some of the weighted factors taken into consideration.

While the Kentucky State Police utilize several different types of specialty vehicles, arguably none are more recognizable by the citizens of our state than the familiar gray marked cruiser with the blue bar light. Although we have driven the Ford Crown Victoria for many years, 2012 will reveal a somewhat different look. Last year, Ford announced that it would discontinue the Crown Victoria police package and replace it with the new Ford Police Interceptor.

After establishing a committee comprised of troopers, trainers, mechanics and researchers, each of the three police vehicle packages offered by Ford, Chevrolet, and Chrysler were studied over a several month period. Each vehicle was test driven in a variety of conditions on a controlled test track. Although each of the products tested had numerous attributes, it was determined that the Chevrolet Caprice police package would be the choice for purchase in the 2012 calendar year. It was also revealed early in the process that the Ford Interceptor would not go into production until late April, much too late to meet our needs for this year.

State statutes mandate that vehicles be put out on a bidding process with specifics regarding upgrades and features. Ultimately, an established dealer is awarded the contract for a specific type of car(s) for an agency within state government to purchase. After this process, the actual purchase takes place and delivery is received several weeks later. Ultimately, the arduous task of installing blue lights, sirens, switch boxes; protective screens, mobile data computer mounts and striping packages take place. These functions take place in our Frankfort central garage by some very talented technicians and mechanics. This can take as much as a day or two per vehicle and adds an additional cost of $12,920 to each car if none of the parts are recycled from surplus vehicles.

Although it’s hard to believe, the Kentucky State Police averages driving nearly two and a half million miles per month while patrolling the roadways of the Commonwealth. We continue to be as frugal as possible in purchasing patrol vehicles, while keeping in mind the importance of officer safety and the need for an emergency response to protect the public we serve.