Does your family have traditions that they routinely practice during the holiday season? Each Christmas Eve, my family attends an afternoon church service and then scrambles to a local theatre to watch a movie before hurrying home for a late dinner and a night of gift giving. Each year we laugh and try to recall how and why this tradition of a ‘holiday movie’ evolved. A close friend of mine tells me that every year their Christmas dinner consists of oyster stew and chili. She has no recollection of how it all began but their kids, now grown, have come to demand this strange culinary spread. Another friend of mine throws a Christmas Eve party for friends, neighbors and family. She bills it as the “holiday stress free zone” having witnessed the tradition originate with her mother.

As strange as some of our American traditions may be around the holidays, foreign countries often rival or exceed our routines. For instance, Austrian children live in fear of Krampus, a Christmas devil who’s said to beat naughty children with branches. Germans hide a pickle in the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. The first child to find it in the morning receives a small gift. And thanks to a powerful advertising campaign in 1974, many Japanese families eat Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas Eve!

Tradition is defined as “…the handing down of beliefs, legends, customs, and practices often from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.” Although their origins are sometimes lost to history, at one time they had a specific meaning and purpose.

There were many reasons that led up to the origins of the Kentucky State Police in 1948. Providing professional and reliable law enforcement to rural areas of the state was the cornerstone of our humble beginnings. From those early days, we quickly developed a tradition of helping those in our communities that desperately need assistance. Our outreach takes many forms beyond the traditional police mission such as sending hundreds of children to Trooper Island each summer or providing gifts to thousands of needy kids at Christmas through our ‘Shop with a Trooper’ program. Over the past four years we have collected over 354 tons of food for local food banks, homeless shelters and churches through our ‘Cram the Cruiser’ project.

Our tradition of service runs deep throughout the history of our agency and is recognized across the state, as evidenced by the strong level of public support we enjoy. Our actions make a positive impact in ways that we may never be fully cognizant of. I’m reminded of a quote that I use when teaching customer service to new employees during the ‘Welcome Aboard’ program: “The way we do business is often times more important than the business we’re in.” Borrowed from the Hilton Hotel chain, it speaks volumes in regards to how the Kentucky State Police operates.

Although our spirit of service and servant leadership takes place year round, it’s never more evident than during this season of giving. As we close out 2015, I’m thankful that I am part of such a robust and caring agency full of people who are truly committed to changing the lives of those in need.



In the aftermath of Trooper Cameron Ponder’s murder, I was asked by the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection to research safety enhancements that might provide additional protection for our agency. Specific interest was centered on bullet resistant laminates for automobile glass. I testified yesterday concerning our findings and the following is a summation of my recommendations.

The first distinction that must be made is between bullet proof glass and bullet resistant glass. In reality, no glass is truly bullet proof. Even glass that is used by the Secret Service and high level dignitary protection details can be compromised depending on the caliber of weapon and ammunition type. Thus our efforts focused on laminates that claim to provide a level of protection on side windows, not windshields. After contacting the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), no definitive information was gleaned regarding the validity of such a product. A national survey revealed that no police agency in North America was currently utilizing such a laminate. Ultimately, it was determined that this technology is in its’ infancy and has yet to be tested, developed and researched to provide any meaningful protection for our personnel.

The remainder of my testimony centered on safety proposals that might be of assistance to our protection. The following is a list of those issues:
• A state-of-the-art indoor firing range at our new academy campus for enhanced training. Since our inception in 1948, the Kentucky State Police has never owned or controlled its’ own firing range. This facility would allow us to operate and train under varying conditions throughout the calendar year. Estimated cost: $2.1 million dollars.
• An infusion of 250 marked cruisers into our fleet each of the next two fiscal years. Currently half of our marked fleet has over 100,000 miles, 136 of which have over 150,000 miles. Estimated cost: $7,145,000 each fiscal year.
• Flashlights mounted on our existing Glock side arms. This relatively new technology mirrors the same concept as we currently utilize on most of our shotguns and automatic rifles. Freeing up the officer’s weak hand during low light tactical situations would greatly enhance our safety. Our current holsters would have to be replaced adding to the cost of this proposal. Estimated cost: $179,000
• A two prong pay raise for all Chapter 16 sworn personnel. Troopers currently rank next to last on our neighboring state salary survey for beginning pay, and fifteenth when compared to starting salaries with in-state local law enforcement agencies. Commercial Vehicle Officers rank out even lower. To better compete in our recruitment and retention efforts, I have asked for a $4000 across the board raise for all sworn personnel. Estimated cost: $7,840,000 annually.

Additionally, our pay scale goes relatively flat after reaching the ‘Senior Trooper/Officer’ status. I have proposed a series of longevity raises to rectify this situation. These incremental 5% raises would occur at the 10, 15, and 20 year mark, mirroring and building on the existing senior trooper statute. These proposals will help us attract and retain experienced personnel as we move into the future. Estimated cost: $300,000-$400,000 per fiscal year.

It should be noted that these requests are in our current budgetary proposals and are exclusive of any across the board raises that we and our Chapter 18 personnel may receive. It is also independent of the proposal to increase the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund (KLEFPF) from $3100 to $4000 annually of which I fully support.