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'No one deserves how he died.' Protest leader Travis Nagdy's life celebrated in Louisville

By |2021-11-22T12:25:38-05:00November 22nd, 2021|Breonna Taylor|

Days ahead of another holiday spent without him, loved ones of Travis Nagdy gathered Sunday to commemorate the life and legacy of the young man who'd risen as a prominent protest leader in Louisville before being gunned down. Described as a courageous ball of energy, Nagdy spent months on the front lines of protests in the wake of Breonna Taylor's killing, dedicating himself to the fight against racist injustices. His prominence led him to New York and Michigan to meet with others who were dedicated to the same fight. "It was very devastating and sudden and shocking," Aly Bates said during the gathering to celebrate Nagdy's life. Like him, Bates took to the streets in her own community of Grand Rapids, Michigan, to protest police brutality following the killings of George Floyd and Taylor. Bates pointed to her proximity in age with Nagdy, who was just 21 when he was killed."It hits very different being a young leader and every young leader in their own communities felt his death," she said. "It was very tragic and heartbreaking." Nagdy's youthfulness was also one of many aspects of his loss that was weighing on his mom Sunday.More:FBI makes arrest in fatal carjacking of Louisville protest leader Travis NagdyMore:'He's irreplaceable': Breonna Taylor protest leader, 21, killed in shootingChristina Muimneach, who was sitting at a table with her dad at her side, made the 60-mile drive to Louisville Sunday for the event planned in her baby's honor. In a room filled with more than 100 people whom she hadn't known at this time last year, she quietly wiped away her tears as she noted the grave fact that she'd never get grandbabies from her son. "I always told him to be careful because I was worried when I saw him on the TV," she said. "He didn't think this would happen to him." Maybe it was his youth that made him feel protected from the record-level gun violence the city experienced last year, she wondered aloud.When Nagdy died Nov. 23, 2020, after sustaining three gunshot wounds in an apparent carjacking, his death marked Louisville Metro Police's 145th homicide investigation. By the year's end, there would be 173 — drastically exceeding the previous year's homicide toll of 117. This year, Louisville has already matched that record. With one month left in the year, it is unknown how many more mothers might join the club Muimneach never wanted to be a part of. "It's like I want to stop the world and scream my son has died," she said of her grief. "It is hell," she continued. "My son was on a trajectory to be and do something great in this world, and the only words I can come up with are despicable and disgusting." Ashton Nally, 20, of Hardin County, was indicted on charges of murder, first-degree robbery and felony gun possession in Nagdy's killing. Nally also faces a federal charge of armed robbery of a vehicle. "Lately I've been picturing him as a baby and how innocent he was," Muimneach said of her son. "No one deserves how he died." As a slideshow of photos of Nagdy, with his iconic big hair and megaphone, played across the wall of the Unity Church Sunday, Muimneach knew her son would be proud that so many had showed in his honor, she said. He wanted to be a voice for those who had been wronged by racist systems and now, she sees others will carry out that mission in his legacy. "He's left an immense hole in my heart, in my daughter's heart and everyone else you see here who came out for him," she said. "He was close to so many people here." A caravan for Nagdy will start at 6 p.m. Tuesday at CairoBlocc and end at the square. A vigil will begin around 7 p.m. More:100+ protest outside Indiana jail demand answers in strange death of Ta'Neasha ChappellContact reporter Krista Johnson at kjohnson3@gannett.com.

Civilian review, 'deflection' and Louisville police stops: 4 'Racial Reckoning' takeaways

By |2021-11-19T10:23:24-05:00November 19th, 2021|Breonna Taylor|

Louisville community leaders debated issues such as oversight of law enforcement and "deflection" services during a Thursday night panel on policing.The event was part of The Courier Journal's "Racial Reckoning" series, held in conjunction with the Frazier History Museum and the Muhammad Ali Center. This week's panel included Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields; Louisville Metro Councilwoman Paula McCraney; Khalilah Collins, a social justice practitioner at Spalding University; and Marian Vasser, executive director of Diversity and Equity at the University of Louisville.The discussion, held at the Frazier, was moderated by Courier Journal reporter Darcy Costello and also featured stories from Judge Denise Clayton, chief judge with the Kentucky Court of Appeals; and the Rev. F. Bruce Williams, senior pastor of Bates Memorial Baptist Church.Replay past events:Panel discusses Louisville’s school system in ‘Racial Reckoning’ seriesHere are the key takeaways from the discussion:Support for LMPD civilian review board?Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields expressed optimism that the department will be able to work well with a new civilian review board and inspector general meant to provide oversight over LMPD, acknowledging that she thinks the department has come up short in the past in terms of addressing civilian complaints in a timely manner."We look forward to working with them," she said of the board. "That is absolutely going to be one of the avenues that we are working with."Louisville Metro Councilwoman Paula McCraney said support for the board's work from Shields and the rest of LMPD leadership will be critical to be it being able to do its job."The proof will be in the pudding," she said. "And we are hopeful that it will be a partnership whereby they do not have to beg for people to come forward and speak to them, and that they don't have to look for the state to pass an ordinance or law that says they have subpoena power. Because that's not going to happen."Funding for 'deflection' servicesKhalilah Collins, a social justice practitioner at Spalding University, pointed out the value of "deflection" services, systems in which professionals such as social workers or mental health counselors respond to appropriate situations rather than police officers.Collins, who works with a group that provides deflection services, added that she believes the city would be better served by the city directing more funding to these projects rather than upping funding to LMPD."People are already doing things to keep themselves safe because they don't necessarily see the police as the safe option, and that's heartbreaking," she said. "But instead of resourcing people who are already doing that work, instead of resourcing communities, we continue to throw money at something that's not working."McCraney noted that much of that money is meant to fund efforts to improve LMPD."We are hopeful that the deflection model works,"  McCraney said. "If the police department isn't working, we do need to redirect those funds ... but we put more money into the budget in order to put these programs together. We are waiting to see what works, and what works is what will get the attention and the funding."Shields agreed that deflection services can make a difference."The challenge is going to be convincing the powers that be to continue to fund the model so that it can become a part of the public reimagining public safety," she said. "Because it's not going to happen overnight. None of these issues occurred overnight, and it's going to take a while to turn it around."'Breonna Taylor died because of it':Why the city says Louisville ex-cop should stay firedJudge says son handcuffed in St. Matthews Besides talking policy, participants also reflected on their own interactions with law enforcement.Judge Denise Clayton, chief judge with the Kentucky Court of Appeals, told the story of an incident in which her son was pulled over in a St. Matthews subdivision while using her car to drop off a coworker at home."They handcuffed him. They put him on the curb," she said, remembering that her son told her the police alleged he was speeding and that the car was stolen. Her son said their behavior changed, she recalled, when he told them his mother was a judge.The judge noted how the experience was a reminder of why many families of color have "the infamous talk" with their kids about how to act when around police or in other public settings."This was a story I had told both of my sons. ... This is a story that was also told to me growing up. You are going to be under suspicion because of who you are," she said.Rev. F. Bruce Williams, senior pastor of Bates Memorial Baptist Church, also shared a story about being pulled over, in his situation while he was driving to work at his church in Smoketown. He recalled that he remembered the officer's demeanor shifted when Williams said he was a pastor but that didn't stop him from being questioned."His actions communicated to me that 'I don't care who you say you are. To me, you're just like anybody else in this community and I'll treat you accordingly.' ... He was telling me 'I'm the police, I have the power and I have prerogatives because I have the power,'" Williams said.'Racial Reckoning' series continuesThe fourth and final event in the series for 2021 is set for Dec. 2 at the Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. Sixth St. That conversation will focus on health. Those interested in attending can pre-register at fraziermuseum.org or alicenter.org. Donations of $10 are suggested, and the event will also will be streamed live on The Courier Journal's website.The conversations are "paired with" museum exhibits, including the "West of Ninth: Race, Reckoning and Reconciliation" exhibit at the Frazier Museum and the "Truth Be Told: The Policies That Impacted Black Lives" exhibit on display at the Ali Center through February.Mary Ramsey is a breaking news reporter for The Courier Journal. Reach her at mramsey@gannett.com, and follow her on Twitter @mcolleen1996. Support strong local journalism in our community by subscribing to The Courier Journal today.

Louisville police took $18K from Black driver in unlawful search and arrest, lawsuit says

By |2021-11-17T05:34:08-05:00November 17th, 2021|David McAtee|

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky man has sued three Louisville Metro Police officers and former police Chief Steve Conrad, saying he was unlawfully searched and charged with drug offenses during a traffic stop because he is Black.The lawsuit filed on behalf of Karim Codrington, a 32-year-old Army veteran from Radcliff, also accuses police of false arrest, malicious prosecution, failure to train and intervene and unlawfully seizing at least $18,000.The lawsuit, filed Nov. 3 in U.S. District Court by attorney Shaun Wimberly on behalf of Karim Codrington, names Officers Jay Dolak, Tyler Blissett and John Kirk as well as Conrad and Louisville Metro Government as defendants.Claims made in a lawsuit represent only one side of a case.LMPD does not comment on pending litigation. Conrad, who was fired last summer after the fatal shooting of David McAtee, could not be reached for comment.Louisville woman dies:100+ protest outside Indiana jail seeking answers in strange death of Ta'Neasha ChappellAccording to his lawsuit, Codrington had parked his black Dodge Charger at a Thorntons gas station pump at Seventh Street and Algonquin Parkway a few minutes before 1 a.m. on Aug. 10, 2018.He was talking on a phone, and Dolak and Blissett then drove up and blocked Codrington's car, according to the suit.Dolak "immediately asked if there were any weapons in the car," and Codrington replied that he had a firearm, according to the complaint.Dolak then asked Codrington to exit the vehicle, which the man did before the officers patted him down, per the lawsuit. Blissett put his hands in the pockets of Codrington's clothing during the search, the suit adds.Dolak next asked Codrington if he could go inside the vehicle, and Codrington refused to consent, according to the suit.The officers asked Codrington for his driver's license and concealed carry permit, which Codrington showed them, the suit says.A K-9 officer and additional officers showed up to the gas station, and Codrington kept denying the requests from Dolak and Blissett to search his vehicle, according to the lawsuit.Dolak became "disgruntled" and then asked Codrington for proof of automobile insurance, but when Codrington attempted to pull out his insurance card, Dolak refused to let him show it, according to the complaint.Dolak then issued "an ultimatum" to Codrington — either let officers search the vehicle or face a charge of failure to produce an insurance card, according to the lawsuit.Codrington continued to refuse, but Kirk then initiated at least two "false dog sniffs" with his K-9, the lawsuit says. One was prompted by Kirk "throwing an object into Mr. Codrington's vehicle," which resulted in the K-9 entering the vehicle and retrieving the object, according to the complaint.Codrington was then handcuffed, with the officers searching his vehicle and finding a "small amount of marijuana" and cash "totaling at least $50,000," the suit says.He was arrested and charged with trafficking in marijuana and meth, buying and possessing drugs, tampering with physical evidence and loitering, according to the lawsuit and court records. Wimberly, his attorney, said body camera footage suggests police could have planted the meth after detaining the man.Social worker 'crisis':Frustrated state social workers gather at Kentucky Capitol to protest working conditionsBut the charges were dismissed in Jefferson Circuit Court in November 2020, according to online records and the lawsuit.In court, the lawsuit says, Dolak falsely asserted the reason for the traffic stop and search was due to concerns over Codrington's "wellness" and that he "had already called for a K-9 dog." Body camera footage "does not reveal an audible call for K-9," Jefferson Circuit Judge Brian Edwards wrote in a court opinion that granted Codrington's request to suppress evidence the officers collected during the stop.Dolak had also testified the gas station was in a "high-crime area," and that gas stations are often used as "drug trafficking," Edwards wrote in his March 2020 order.But that alone, along with any "nervousness" exhibited by Codrington, is "not sufficient to create reasonable articulable suspicion" of criminal activity, Edwards wrote.Codrington was "cooperative, did not appear under the influence of any intoxicants, was in possession of a valid license and had no outstanding warrants," the judge wrote. "... Mr. Codrington's constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure was violated, and the resulting seizure was 'fruit of the poisonous tree' that must be suppressed."Once his case was dismissed, Codrington sought to retrieve the seized money from LMPD but noticed at least $18,000 was missing, according to his suit. His attempt to recover the money has been denied, the lawsuit says.Related:Louisville pays Black couple $75K for traffic stop. But they can't talk bad about policeAs for why Codrington — who served overseas in Afghanistan while in the Army — had a larger amount of cash in his vehicle, Wimberly said his client was in the process of using it to secure a new home and had documentation and bank statements to back all of it up.Wimberly noted at least eight other lawsuits have been filed since January 2019 alleging LMPD and its officers have violated the rights of Black drivers through unconstitutional traffic stops and searches. (The attorney himself claimed he was racially profiled in one of those lawsuits against the department.)The suit also cites past Courier Journal reports into LMPD's pattern of stopping and searching Black drivers at a disproportionate rate, and it notes last year's Hillard Heintze review of LMPD, which found Black drivers made up 34% of traffic stops in 2019 while representing 21.2% of the city's population.After the controversial 2018 stop of Tae-Ahn Lea, a Black teen who was pulled from his car one day before Codrington, frisked and handcuffed while a drug-sniffing dog and police searched his vehicle, only to find no contraband, Conrad announced in May 2019 he was curtailing LMPD's practice of removing motorists from their cars and handcuffing them while their vehicle is searched.Federal probe of LMPD:DOJ investigation fixes could cost Louisville up to $10 million a yearThe U.S. Department of Justice is investigating LMPD and the city's "patterns and practices," including whether police discriminate against people based on race.LMPD Chief Erika Shields, who took over the department this year, said in September her department was working toward implementing a system that will track the race and gender of the subject of traffic stops.Among other requests, Codrington's lawsuit seeks $18,000 in damages to recoup his cash as well as punitive damages.The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings in the Western District of Kentucky, with future court hearings not yet scheduled.Reach Billy Kobin at bkobin@courierjournal.com.

100+ protest outside Indiana jail demand answers in strange death of Ta'Neasha Chappell

By |2021-11-16T15:44:35-05:00November 16th, 2021|Breonna Taylor|

BROWNSTOWN, Ind. — Ten-year-old Nevaeh Chappell stood next to her grandma and aunt on the steps of the Jackson County Court House Tuesday morning, clutching a single sheet of notebook paper containing the speech she’d prepared to give to the crowd of more than 100 people standing before her.As she approached the microphone — in a rural town about 60 miles from her home — the sun began to rise over the building and the girl who was ready to say her heartbreaking words.“She was one of a kind,” Neveah said of her mom, Ta'Neasha Chappell, whose picture was propped up behind her.“Say my mom’s name!” she screamed outside the courthouse.

100+ protest outside Indiana jail seeking answers in strange death of Ta'Neasha Chappell

By |2021-11-16T12:08:30-05:00November 16th, 2021|Breonna Taylor|

BROWNSTOWN, Ind. — More than 100 people descended upon the lawn of the Jackson County Court House here Tuesday morning, demanding answers in the death of 23-year-old Louisville native Ta’Neasha Chappell, who died after being held in the county’s local jail.“We all need to know what happened while Ta’Neasha was in that cell,” Ameira Bryant told the crowd.Chappell’s family hasn't received a death certificate, which could disclose the cause of her death. Additionally, video surveillance footage from the cell that Chappell was being held in before her death has not been released.Standing before signs questioning what happened to Chappell and in front of several Indiana State Police officers, Bryant said, “Our system is eff’ed up. They are out here killing people — cops are killing people.”“We are here to honor a life lost, a life taken."Chappell, a 23-year-old Louisville woman, died while in the custody of the Jackson County Jail in Brownstownon July 16.Chappell had fallen ill the day before, but jail staff showed "deliberate indifference" to her life by failing to provide her "prompt and adequate" medical care, a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of her family alleges.For subscribers:Social workers say stress, coworkers' exodus putting strain on Kentucky child abuse workAttorneys Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker — the same team behind the $12 million settlement between Breonna Taylor's family and the city of Louisville — have taken on the case.It took more than 23 hours for the jail to call in EMS, who took Chappell to Schneck Medical Center in nearby Seymour, where she died shortly after.Imagine getting that phone call, Aguiar told the crowd. “Then, imagine four months later still not knowing what happened to your child.“Other people have died in that jail and they don’t know what happened, so we need to take a stand … clearly they haven’t learned their lesson. It’s still business as usual over there and it will continue to be business as usual until we demand justice.”The Indiana State Police is investigating Chappell's death.Chappell had been held in jail since May 26 on $4,000 cash bond for multiple felony and misdemeanor charges in Jackson County stemming from an alleged theft and high-speed chase.Speaking to residents of the county in the crowd, civil rights group United Freedom co-founder Linda Sarsour said taxpayers are "by proxy complicit in the torture of Ta’Neasha," if they do not hold the department accountable.“If you are going to call me and tell me that my child lost her life, it is common human decency to tell me how and why she lost her life," Sarsour said. "How much pain does a Black woman have to be in to deserve health care?"Tamika Mallory with the United Freedom group said, “Not enough people are standing up for Black women across this country, and that is why we came."“I’m happy to be in a small town where they don’t want us to be,” and we will keep showing up, she said.Chappell is not the only prisoner to die while in Jackson County Jail custody.Joshua McLemore, 29, died Aug. 10 at a Cincinnati hospital he'd been airlifted to two days earlier shortly after he was "released" on his own recognizance from the jail.However, the release forms show he was "unable to sign" and he was admitted to Schneck the same day with a litany of serious medical issues, including rhabdomyolysis, a rare condition in which the body's muscle tissue begins to break down.In May 2020, 30-year-old Tobias Au also died at Schneck after being found unresponsive in a jail bathroom on May 10. He died at the hospital May 17, and his death was ruled a suicide.This story will be updated.Contact reporter Krista Johnson at kjohnson3@gannett.com.

A 'Racial Reckoning' series puts spotlight on Louisville police and communities of color

By |2021-11-11T06:26:56-05:00November 11th, 2021|Breonna Taylor|

It's been called a police department in crisis that doesn't provide equal treatment to communities of color.And as Louisville strives to build a more equitable city — after the police killing of Breonna Taylor and ensuing racial justice protests — the Louisville Metro Police Department is front and center.How do we improve LMPD and bring the police and community together to create safer neighborhoods?Join the conversation at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18, at the Frazier History Museum as we discuss policing and public safety as part of "Racial Reckoning," a series of community talks on racial justice issues facing Louisville.More:2 Louisville sheriff's officers revealed to have been in the KKK are leaving the forcePanelists are LMPD Chief Erika Shields; Metro Councilwoman Paula McCraney; Khalilah Collins, a social justice practitioner at Spalding University; and Marian Vasser, executive director of Diversity and Equity at the University of Louisville. Courier Journal reporter Darcy Costello will moderate the conversation.The event also will feature personal stories about police encounters from Judge Denise Clayton, chief judge with the Kentucky Court of Appeals; and The Rev. F. Bruce Williams, senior pastor of Bates Memorial Baptist Church.The Courier Journal is partnering with the Frazier History Museum and Muhammad Ali Center to bring you the discussions, held monthly through the end of 2021. Anyone who wants to attend the event at the Frazier, 829 W. Main St., can pre-register online at fraziermuseum.org or alicenter.org. Donations of $10 are suggested. The event also will be streamed live on The Courier Journal's website. Go to www.courierjournal.com to watch.This is the third of four monthly conversations planned this year. The first event on housing inequity was held Sept. 30, and the second conversation on education was Oct. 28. The last event on health will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. Sixth St.Panelists will help give context to each topic, provide calls to action and simple steps we can take to make a positive difference for our community.The conversations are "paired with" museum exhibits, including the "West of Ninth: Race, Reckoning and Reconciliation" exhibit at the Frazier Museum and the "Truth Be Told: The Policies That Impacted Black Lives" exhibit on display at the Ali Center through February.Veda Morgan is the senior director for engagement and diversity at The Courier Journal. Contact her at vmorgan@courierjournal.com or 502-582-4215.

Ex-chief: I couldn't put a gun and badge back in hands of cop who shot Breonna Taylor

By |2021-11-10T17:25:51-05:00November 10th, 2021|Breonna Taylor|

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Firing Myles Cosgrove for his role in the police shooting that left Breonna Taylor dead in her apartment was the right decision — even if it wasn't easy, the interim chief who made that call told the Police Merit Board Wednesday."I had no faith I could put a gun and badge back in his hands," former Louisville Metro Police Chief Yvette Gentry said. "He reacted so poorly under stress that … I didn't have any confidence to put him back out there as a police officer."Gentry fired Cosgrove in January for failing to "properly identify a target" when he shot 16 times into Taylor's apartment on March 13, 2020. Six of the 32 rounds fired by three officers struck Taylor, but the FBI concluded Cosgrove fired the fatal shot.The ex-cop is appealing to the board to get reinstated on the police force in a multi-day hearing that began Tuesday morning at the River City FOP Lodge No. 614.Previously: 'Breonna Taylor died because of it': Why the city says Louisville ex-cop should stay firedThe department argues that Cosgrove was reckless, firing into Taylor's apartment without knowing who he was shooting at. Cosgrove's attorneys argue he made an instant life-or-death decision to protect himself and his partner.Gentry, the second witness called by Assistant County Attorney Brendan Daugherty, said there was no training that Cosgrove hasn't already received as a 15-year-veteran of LMPD that would have better equipped him to handle that situation.Much of the hearing Tuesday focused on Cosgrove's confusion and sensory loss during the shooting, including seeing a "shadowy" figure and flashes of light, being "deafened" by gunshots and being unsure how many times he fired his weapon."If you're not seeing and you're not hearing," Gentry told the board, "you don't shoot."Scott Miller, Cosgrove's attorney, pressed Gentry on if Cosgrove said he saw a "flash" or a "muzzle flash.""A white flash is a lot different than a gunshot," Miller said. "A muzzle flash is indicative that you're getting shot at."Gentry said Cosgrove still needed to be able to identify the specific threat he was shooting at; a "shadowy" figure alone doesn't cut it."The violation of the policy is that he fired 16 rounds that he can't speak to and Breonna Taylor received one of those fatal rounds," Gentry said.Similar: Why the fired Louisville cop who fatally shot Breonna Taylor says he deserves his job backBoard member Bob Graves, a mayoral appointee, asked Gentry what she would have done, hypothetically, if Cosgrove couldn't be connected to the fatal shot."It's not about what shot did which damage," she said. "It's about who was the target."Gentry said it was uncommon for an officer to lose their job after a shooting and it was not a decision she made lightly. She knew being chief would require tough decisions, and the choice to fire Cosgrove was made free of political pressure."He can go get a new job," she said. "He can go work somewhere else. … I made this decision based on who I thought could go out there and have life and liberty decision over this community again."At the end of Gentry's testimony, which concluded Daugherty's case, Miller moved to have the board direct to verdict, arguing Daugherty and LMPD did not meet the burden of proof needed to defend Cosgrove's firing."Looking at the totality of everything put before him that night, what he had to deal with — and unfortunately, we had a very tragic outcome — but at the end of the day, there's no question as to what was presented to him and what he had to respond to," Miller said."There's questions about articulation. There's questions about memory, questions about trajectory and things like that that all and have been adequately addressed throughout this case to show that his actions — every one of those — were reasonable under the circumstances."But Mark Dobbins, the board attorney, said the board can only make its decision about a termination at the end of a hearing. For that to happen, Miller would have had to "roll the dice" and not present his case, Dobbins said.Miller withdrew his motion, saying the board needed to hear from Cosgrove and their expert witness.Cosgrove's hearing will continue Dec. 14-15. It was previously scheduled to resume on Dec. 13 but was pushed back a day because of a scheduling conflict for a board member. If a third day in December is needed, the board will also meet Dec. 16.Cosgrove was one of three officers fired for his role in the attempted search of and subsequent shooting at Taylor's apartment. Joshua Jaynes, the detective who secured the search warrant, also was fired in January for lying on the affidavit he swore to a judge. Jaynes appealed to the Merit Board, which upheld his firing in June.Brett Hankison was fired in 2020 for "blindly" firing 10 rounds into Taylor's apartment and faces three counts of wanton endangerment shooting into the apartment of Taylor's neighbors. He plans to appeal to the Merit Board after his criminal proceedings have concluded.His criminal trial is currently set for Feb. 1, 2022.Reach Tessa Duvall at tduvall@courier-journal.com and 502-582-4059. Twitter: @TessaDuvall.

Gov. Andy Beshear wants body cameras, big pay raises for Kentucky State Police

By |2021-11-09T16:27:10-05:00November 9th, 2021|Breonna Taylor, David McAtee|

Gov. Andy Beshear's proposed budget request for the Kentucky State Police next year will include $12.2 million for the agency's troopers to be equipped with body cameras for the first time.The governor's budget request also proposes a $15,000 raise for state troopers and an $8,000 raise for dispatch telecommunicators, part of an effort to recruit new hires and retain current personnel, who are increasingly leaving for other law enforcement agencies that pay more.At a press conference Tuesday with KSP and Justice Cabinet leadership, Beshear said the "historic investments" of his budget proposal would amount to the single largest pay increase ever for state troopers."Both KSP troopers and dispatchers deserve the respect and the stability that comes from competitive wages, and none of them should have to have a second job with what they do for us to provide for their family," Beshear said. "I hope that this is a commitment that is seen and understood by the state to do our part for these individuals that are doing theirs."On the proposal to equip state troopers for the first time with body cameras to record interactions with the public, Beshear said they are "critical for public transparency and accountability," but also "provide just as much protection to law enforcement officers themselves by documenting exactly what happens in any situation.""Body cameras address that 'he said, he said' situation, where they are not drug into court by someone who would claim something that didn't happen happened — protecting that officer and ensuring the right outcome."The Louisville Metro Police Department became the first law enforcement agency in Kentucky to require officers to wear body cameras in 2015, but former KSP leadership resisted efforts to do so for years, saying the agency could not afford the expense.An investigation by The Marshall Project and Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting this summer found KSP troopers fatally shot at least 41 people over the past five years — more than any other law enforcement agency in the state and more people in rural communities than any other department in the nation.ACLU:Kentucky State Police review of training materials quoting Hitler falls shortJustice Cabinet Secretary Kerry Harvey said Tuesday the body cameras would be a win for both the public and KSP troopers, as "effective policing requires public trust in law enforcement.""I'm convinced that in the event of controversy, the record made by this tool will demonstrate that our troopers act professionally and appropriately in an overwhelming majority of difficult encounters," Harvey said. "In the relatively few cases — and I mean the very few cases — where the encounter is not as we would hope, these recording devices will be a valuable tool to ensure that justice is done and appropriate corrections are made." KSP Commissioner Phillip Burnett Jr. said the raises for personnel are what is needed to reverse the high turnover rate in the agency, as they employed more than 1,000 troopers in 2016 but just 736 today. That current figure is the lowest since 1988, with 70% of recent troopers leaving saying they did so because of the low salary.In addition to paying state troopers less than every surrounding state, Burnett said KSP "ranks 74th in starting pay within Kentucky law enforcement agencies and is currently trailing by $10,000 to $30,000 a year depending upon the agency, rank and tenure."The annual starting pay for KSP troopers is currently $40,000, while dispatchers start at $32,000.KSP:The Courier Journal sues Kentucky State Police for release of David McAtee investigationBeshear also proposed a $600 increase in what officers are paid upon completing their mandated in-service training, and intends to include law enforcement officers in his proposal to use $400 million in federal funds next year to give bonuses to essential workers employed throughout two full years of the pandemic.Ryan Straw, the government affairs director for the Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police, said the organization's 11,000 members were grateful for the governor including the extra pay in his budget request.Whether or not the funding for KSP raises or body cameras comes to fruition will be up the the Republican supermajority of the Kentucky General Assembly — who Beshear noted had rejected his past budget proposal to give raises to KSP troopers.Legislators begin the 2022 legislative session the first week of January, tasked with passing a two-year state budget by the time they adjourn in mid-April.Reach reporter Joe Sonka at jsonka@courierjournal.com and follow him on Twitter at @joesonka. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today at the top of this page.

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