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KSP Collecting Supplies for Storm Victims

From Alex Suckow, Kentucky Public Radio

While the Red Cross and other relief agencies continue to fundraise on behalf of storm victims, Kentucky State Police are collecting supplies to aid in the cleanup and recovery across the Commonwealth. KSP spokesperson Lieutenant David Jude says all 16 KSP posts have been designated as drop off areas where people can donate badly needed supplies.

“What we’ve thought is if we could get each post to be a collection spot for donations for goods that are needed in those communities, then we can work as an agency to get those goods efficiently down to those areas. It’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Jude says they are collecting everything from first aid kits to cleaning supplies; even non-perishable food. Donations will be accepted through Sunday, March 10.

A list of supplies being collected can be seen here.

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Kentucky State Police Recruiting Cadets For 2012

The Kentucky State Police are recruiting cadets for the class of 2012.

Recruitment Commander Rick Saint-Blancard says the KSP training academy in Frankfort can accommodate as many as 120 cadets.

He says applicants must be prepared for the physical and mental rigors of a 23-week training program.

“We have a significant drop rate in our academy, and really our objective is to have everybody that steps foot in the academy day one finish. And while we know that that won’t be the case, we would like to minimize that by closing the gap between what they perceive the job to be and what the actual realities are

The Kentucky State Police force currently has more than 900 troopers.

Saint-Blancard says that number fluctuates with changes in attrition and funding levels.

(Photo courtesy of Kentucky State Police)

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Kentucky State Police Awards Presented In Frankfort

The 2010 Kentucky State Police Trooper of the Year is a 17-year veteran of Post One in far western Kentucky.

Senior Trooper Thomas Williams of Smithland is a busy man. Patrolling I-24 and the Western Kentucky Parkway, he issued more than 2,000 citations last year, including 777 for speeding. He investigated 45 criminal cases and made almost 280 arrests.

“Very humbling. It’s an honor,” he said at the annual KSP awards ceremony in Frankfort. “It’s an honor to even be able to do this.”

KSP veteran Bryan Whittaker of Beaver Dam is the 2010 Detective of the Year. Officer Emily Horton of Warsaw is Officer of the Year for the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division.

Also during the ceremony, troopers were honored for valor, bravery, life-saving acts, safe driving and meritorious service.

(Pictured, left to right, Detective Brian Whittaker, Officer Emily Horton and Senior Trooper Thomas Williams)

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Frankfort Prison to Become State Police Training Academy

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has decided to close a minimum security prison and make it a training academy for Kentucky State Police.

Beshear says the state no longer needs the Frankfort Career Development Center, which houses 205 low-risk inmates.

“Our inmate population has dropped, more than 1600 inmates, between February 15, 2008 and April 20 of this year. This is a sustained drop and we expect that trend to continue,” he says.

KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer is happy with th development.

“I’d like to thank Secretary Brown and Governor Beshear for their innovativeness and their leadership in allowing us to do that – and definitely the Department of Corrections for their generosity. It’s not many days that you get a 362 acre complex deeded over to you,” he says.

Positions at other correctional facilities have already been found for the 47 staff members at the Frankfort prison. The inmates will be sent to county jails, halfway houses and community supervision. KSP will get keys to the prison on July 1st.

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GOP Ag Commissioner Candidates Support Hemp

Several candidates for Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner say they’d like to see more industrial hemp grown in the state, but law enforcement officials disagree with the proposals.

The commonwealth was once a leading producer of hemp, which can be used for paper, textiles and other products. Proponents say it could help bring revenue to Kentucky.

However, Kentucky State Police Lt. David Jude says law enforcement does not support more hemp growth, since the plant is easily confused with its cousin … marijuana.

“There’s just a small difference between the plants, of which I can’t describe that. As far as us enforcing it, it’s going to create issues as to what is a legal plant and what is an illegal plant,” he says.

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Kentucky Highway Fatalities Continue To Decline

There’s been a steady decline in highway fatalities in Kentucky since 2005, when 985 people were killed.  Last year, the number of fatalities fell to 760, the fifth consecutive year of declines.  Kentucky State Police spokesman David Jude says increased seat belt use is one reason, but rising gas prices likely are playing a role, too. 

“A couple of years ago when gas reached its high for this area, we noticed that people weren’t traveling as much – at least not in great distances.  They still went out and they made some short day trips.  They took some more local vacations, if you will, and kind of reduced the number of miles that they were driving,” he said.

Sixty-two percent of people killed on Kentucky roadways last year were not buckled up.  Twenty-percent of the fatalities involved alcohol.  Motorcyclists accounted for 78 of last year’s fatalities, and 58 of them were not wearing helmets.  Kentucky repealed its mandatory helmet law in 1998.

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Kentucky Highway Fatalities Drop to 11-year Low

Kentucky highway fatalities declined for the fifth consecutive year and were the lowest since 1999, according to the state’s highway safety office.

The death toll was 760 last year, which was 31 fewer fatalities than the previous year. Fatal highway accidents peaked at 985 deaths in 2005.

“The good news is that 31 fewer lives were lost,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a news release. “The bad news is that people are still needlessly dying on Kentucky highways. We will not rest until the number is zero, because one fatality is one too many.”

Of those killed, 62 percent were not wearing seat belts and 20 percent of involved alcohol. Motorcyclists accounted for 78 fatalities, with 57 percent not wearing helmets and 15 percent of those crashes involving alcohol.

“While the fatality decrease is an improvement, the numbers indicate many motorists still do not realize the responsibility that comes with a license,” says Kentucky Office of Highway Safety Director Boyd Sigler. “We hope by combining our educational efforts with state and local law enforcement and other safety partners, we will continue to raise public awareness of laws and safe driving practices.”

The KOHS offers various highway safety educational programs to the public, distributes federal highway safety grants to state and local highway safety agencies, and promotes the annual “Click It or Ticket” seat belt campaign and “Over the Limit. Under Arrest” impaired driving campaign.

“We’re heading in the right direction, but we need the public’s help,” says Sigler.  “Everyone must take responsibility and follow all traffic laws, such as wearing a seat belt, driving sober, not texting while driving and obeying the speed limit.”

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Meth Lab Busts Reach Record High In Kentucky

Late last year, Kentucky State Police trooper John Hawkins told WFPL the increase in meth lab busts was so sharp that police were on track to find more than one thousand before the end of the year.

Well…that happened.

Kentucky State Police (KSP) released the 2010 methamphetamine lab statistics today and the number indicates an all-time high in the Commonwealth. KSP reports that there were 1,080 meth labs found during 2010, exceeding all previous year totals.

The top five counties with the highest incidents of meth lab occurrences were Jefferson (154 labs), Laurel (113 labs), Warren (70 labs), Barren (57 labs) and Hardin (53).

There’s legislation pending in the General Assembly that would make decongestant and meth ingredient pseudoephedrine available by prescription only. The bill has the support of many law enforcement officials (but not all), and it has a number of opponents as well. It’s not clear whether the bill will pass both chambers of the General Assembly, but if it does, it’s also not clear whether Governor Steve Beshear will sign it.

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Kentucky Highway Fatalities Continue Decline

By Charles Compton, Kentucky Publc Radio

The final three road fatalities in Kentucky during 2010 may have been prevented, if the victims had obeyed state law. They were not wearing safety belts. Since 2005, a series of laws have cleared the Kentucky General Assembly, meant to make Kentucky’s roads safer. And, there are indications the laws are having an effect.

Lawmakers tightened restrictions on child safety seats. The law also allows police to pull-over drivers who don’t wear seatbelts. And, most recently, the legislature has banned texting by drivers. Coincidentally, State Police Lieutenant David Jude says the number of fatal accidents in Kentucky has declined.

“We’re on a, about a five year reduction in fatalities. So not just from 2009 to 2010, but also over the several years prior to that, our fatalities have been decreasing in the state,” said Jude.

In 2005, just under 1,000 people died on the commonwealth’s highways. Nearly 800 people died in 2009. And preliminary figures for 2010 show another decrease, with 747 people dying in traffic accidents.

Jude says Kentucky’s doing a better job with driver education and in enforcing its traffic laws. He adds drivers are also making better decisions….especially teenagers. Within the last five years, the state has implemented limits on the times when teenagers can drive and on the number of passengers they can carry. Most recently, the state banned cell phone use by teenage drivers.

“We recognized that nationally that particular age group is more likely to be involved in a crash. And, it’s simply because their driving experience isn’t there,” said Jude.

Another piece of useful legislation, according to Lieutenant Jude, cracks down on impaired drivers. He says it eases the prosecution of drunk drivers, drivers who abuse drugs, and even drivers who are impaired by legally prescribed drugs.

Jude credits the success to a concerted effort that has everyone, police, lawmakers and their communities, working together.

“You can’t give credit to just one particular thing, saying ‘this is the reason why fatalities are going down.’ This is a multi-faceted solution to this and the only way it’s going to work is get everybody involved. And, that’s really been the approach over the State of Kentucky over the last several years and I really think those efforts are starting to come through, said Jude.

Despite progress, over half of the people killed last year in traffic accidents were not wearing seatbelts. And, alcohol abuse was a factor in one out of every four fatal accidents.

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Fines To Begin For Texting While Driving

By Sheila Ash

Kentucky State Police will begin issuing citations for violators of the state’s new texting-while-driving law this weekend.

A grace period for the law that went into effect in July ends with the arrival of the new year Saturday.

Trooper John Hawkins says the law goes a step further for teenagers.

“Drivers 18 and under are not allowed to use a cell phone or text while they’re driving unless they are making an emergency phone call,” he said.

The fine for texting while driving is $25 dollars for the first offense and $50 dollars for each additional offense.

Hawkins says traffic fatalities are down this year. He attributes that to drivers making better decisions.