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.



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.


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.