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State police cuts felt locally

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By Mallory Bilger

Spencer County could have fewer Kentucky State Troopers patrolling the area after recent statewide spending cuts affected Post 12, which covers Spencer and six other counties.
Post 12 was one of eight KSP posts told last week that 20 trooper positions were eliminated after a projected $5.8 million shortfall in the fiscal year 2014 budget was identified. Three of the trooper positions were from post 12, which covers Spencer, Anderson, Fayette, Franklin, Scott, Shelby and Woodford counties.
The 20 troopers were all in the R class, which allowed retired troopers to return to KSP. According to the State Journal, troopers in the R class worked in the field, not special operations, and did not receive fringe benefits. They were contractual employees.
KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer said he did not know exactly how the cuts would affect Spencer County.
“We leave those scheduling and manpower issues up to the actual post commanders,” he said. “When you take 20 troopers off the road across the state, obviously . . . it’s definitely going to have some type of effect.”
Brewer said he didn’t believe Spencer County citizens would notice a major change in state police patrols.
“In the eyes of the general public, I don’t think they’re going to see any difference in police coverage,” he said. “They may experience a little longer response time.”
Spencer County Sheriff Donald “Buddy” Stump said he wasn’t too concerned about KSP cutbacks because the sheriff’s department offers full-time coverage.
“Right now, I don’t think it’s going to affect us that much,” Stump said. “That was one reason I wanted to come in here and go 24/7.”
Spencer County Judge Executive Bill Karrer said no one from state police had contacted him personally about the situation and deferred questions to the sheriff, but he felt confident the county was in a position to provide adequate coverage.
Taylorsville Police Chief Toby Lewis said he wished KSP had been able to make adjustments without cutting troopers, noting that Post 12 trooper Sgt. David Decker was included in the cuts.
“His vast knowledge and years of experience was an asset to anybody that was out there in the field,” Lewis said. “I think they should have found a way that was more beneficial to try and retain those if at all possible.”
Lewis said in place like Spencer County that has limited law enforcement resources, backup from the state police is always welcome.
“For the most part, we have a very quiet community there’s times when we need additional help,” he said. “It’s not so much that we call upon them. If we’re on a traffic stop (KSP) may pull in behind us. It’s more of hey, they’re here. Thank goodness that they’re here. It makes you feel a little more comforted.”
Brewer said state police cutbacks are unfortunately a national trend but said the cause of the local financial issues could not be narrowed to one specific thing. He said Kentucky’s incoming revenues are down and KSP retirement contributions have doubled and are expected to go up another $3 million this year. Federal funding has been cut by half in the last five years and fuel costs continue to rise, he said.
“I don’t think there’s one enemy hiding in the bushes,” Brewer said. “We have been very good stewards of the state’s budget.”
Stump did recognized that law enforcement agencies within the county rely upon state police for time to time for different services, but said he has other agencies upon which he can call for assistance.
“I try not to rely on just (KSP) for anything,” Stump said. “I’ve made relationships with other agencies that can do different things for us.”
He said the sheriff’s department was prepared to answer any additional calls that come in as a result of the state police cuts.
“It’s an unfortunate situation that I’m sure will get straightened out, but we have to be prepared at other times. We’re going to go on and the citizens are still going to get their calls answered,” Stump said
Brewer said state police relies heavily on local agencies for support.
“I don’t think it’s ever been a secret that we’ve relied heavily on local agencies and them on us,” he said. “I think our partnerships are probably better and stronger than they’ve ever been.”
Brewer said Spencer County’s dispatch service – which is contracted through KSP – would not be affected by the cuts.