Kentucky lawmaker looks to increase KSP trooper safety in the fi - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky lawmaker looks to increase KSP trooper safety in the field

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Three KSP troopers stand outside the church before the funeral of Joseph Cameron Ponder on Sept. 18, 2015 (Toni Konz, WDRB News) Three KSP troopers stand outside the church before the funeral of Joseph Cameron Ponder on Sept. 18, 2015 (Toni Konz, WDRB News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A week after a Kentucky State Police trooper was shot and killed in the line of duty, one of the state's top lawmakers says he wants to work with KSP on ways to increase trooper safety in the field.

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo wrote a letter to Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer offering his condolences on the Sept. 13 death of Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder.

"All of Kentucky owes a debt of respect and gratitude to the men and women in law enforcement who put their lives on the line every day to make our citizens safe and our communities secure," Stumbo wrote. "I know that members of the General Assembly want to provide as much support as possible for our front line defenders. With this in mind, I would (like) to reach out to you and ask for guidance on what we can do to help the Kentucky State Police return home safely at the end of each day's lifesaving shift."

Stumbo will also meet with Ponder's father, Joseph Ponder of Elizabethtown, and hold an 11 a.m. press conference Tuesday in Frankfort to talk about the letter and increasing trooper safety.

Stumbo says one idea that has been suggested to him is the provision of additional safety features in state police cruisers.

"Retrofitting our cruisers on highway duty with cost effective features such as bullet resistant laminate film may provide an added level of protection for our first responders and might well have changed the outcome in Trooper Ponder's case."

Ponder, 31, a native of Rineyville, was shot and killed following a traffic stop Sept. 13 in southwestern Kentucky. 

Nearly 1,100 police cars from law enforcement agencies across Kentucky and the United States were part of Ponder's three-hour funeral procession Friday from Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown to Kentucky Veterans Cemetery in Fort Knox. 

Ponder had initially pulled over a black Dodge Avenger driven by Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks of Florissant, Mo., for speeding on Interstate 24 near the 58 mile marker after 10 p.m. on Sept. 13.

A KSP spokesman said Ponder had been arranging for overnight lodging for the suspect's fellow travelers, including two children, when suddenly, Johnson-Shanks took off.

Moments later, Johnson-Shanks stopped his vehicle and shot Ponder. After a short manhunt, Johnson-Shanks was also shot and killed by police when he refused to drop his weapon. 

Ponder, a Navy veteran, had been on the state police force less than a year. He was taken to a hospital, where he died shortly before midnight.

Stumbo says he welcomes "any recommendations" Brewer might have "regarding additional protections for our troopers that the legislature could champion in the upcoming budget session."

"Know that we in the General Assembly stand with you in this time of loss and sorrow and look forward to working closely with you this session to ensure that we do all that we can to avert such tragedies in the future."

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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