Effort to improve KSP trooper safety exposes even more problems - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Effort to improve KSP trooper safety exposes even more problems

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- The death of a trooper has exposed even more problems within Kentucky State Police.

State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer told lawmakers at the Capitol, there are ways to improve safety for troopers, but the answers are not what they expected.

On Sept. 13th, Kentucky State Police Trooper Cameron Ponder was killed when a gunman fired through the windshield of Ponder's car. That led Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo to request that state police look into installing a bullet-resistant laminate onto cruiser windshields to help protect officers.

Now, three months later, lawmakers have received a surprising report.

"What we're seeing is the technology is just not there yet," said Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer.

Brewer told lawmakers the laminate does not work, and there's no police force in North America using it.

"It may be true in the next 10-20 years. I hope it is. I hope someone develops a product. But not from what we found so far," Brewer told WDRB.

But Brewer says state police do have other urgent needs to improve trooper safety. Topping that list is its own shooting range. Right now, troopers must borrow or rent from others for training.

"But we've never had our own. And I think that's one of our top concerns, to make sure that we have a place that we can control and an indoor range we can use 24-7," said Brewer.

Brewer says KSP also needs to replace worn cruisers, many with more than 100,000 miles on them.

"And we've got some marked cruisers out on the road today that have 150,000 - 175,000 miles. That concerns me a lot from safety features," said Brewer.

Also on Brewer's wish are tactical flashlights that mount on troopers' handguns.

Raises are also a factor. Starting pay is just over $37,000. Of the seven surrounding states, only Tennessee pays less.

Lawmakers, including Stumbo, say they're shocked at the state of the state police.

"I think it was eye-opening, certainly, for a lot of members. You heard a lot of support here today from members who, I believe, will carry that message forward into the General Assembly when we meet in January," Stumbo told WDRB.

The price tag for the entire wish list, excluding raises, is around $10 million. Now it's up to lawmakers to decide what they believe is most important, based on what the troopers need but also what the state can afford.

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