Gov. Matt Bevin today joined with Kentucky State Police, the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, and the federal Office of Justice Programs, within the Department of Justice, to announce a new initiative that will provide trained advocates at every KSP post to support and assist victims of crime.
KSP is among the first state police agencies to implement this program on a statewide basis.
The program, called Victim Advocate Support Services (VASS), is launching this fall with a dual purpose. Advocates will administer care to crime victims – or those involved in traumatic events – connecting them with immediate resources, such as mental health services, crisis intervention or legal support. These skilled professionals will also serve as liaisons between law enforcement and the victim, simultaneously helping victims navigate the system while allowing detectives to focus more efficiently on the details of the case.
“I am proud of KSP for leading the charge to ensure that every single state police post in the Commonwealth has a trained advocate that can provide compassionate care and essential resources to victims of crime,” said Gov. Bevin. “The Victim Advocate Support Service program will ensure that victims are immediately connected with trained professionals who will be available during every step of the process. We are grateful to the federal Department of Justice for partnering with us on this important program, and I am confident that this initiative will allow us to better serve and support crime victims who need it most.”
One advocate will be assigned to each of KSP’s 16 posts throughout the state. They will work with community partners to provide fair, compassionate and sensitive treatment of victims, families and witnesses – from the investigative stage of a crime through a follow-up period after the case has been adjudicated. Providing these services in the first hours following a crime is not only vital to healing, it also helps victims secure available compensation funds for out-of-pocket expenses.
KSP Commissioner Rick Sanders said the VASS program will fill a void in the system when it comes to victim outreach and ensure that victims are provided with immediate assistance and resources.
“Last year, our agency opened more than 8,000 criminal cases involving more than 10,000 victims,” Commissioner Sanders said. “Many of these victims have experienced severe trauma and need support from a trained advocate. Although, our troopers are compassionate, they must use their training to immediately investigate the crime or assist with a critical incident as it is unfolding, and having a trained advocate at each post will allow victims to receive immediate support.”
The VASS program is funded through the federal Department of Justice’s Victims of Crime Advocacy (VOCA) grant program. Last month, the Grants Management Branch in the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, which administers VOCA funds in Kentucky, awarded KSP $2.5 million for the program. KSP is providing a $632,000 match.
In addition to the advocates, the grant will fund vehicles for each position and a program director. It also includes funds for staff to attend training in trauma-centered care, compassion fatigue, and victim advocacy. KSP will also work with community-based agencies to develop a resource guide for each post’s service area.
Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley praised KSP for the innovative approach to helping victims at a time when police are taking on more complex roles.
“We want to empower victims right from the start,” Secretary Tilley said. “Enduring a traumatic event is overwhelming enough without having to worry about navigating the complexities of the criminal justice system. We have a duty to uphold the rights of victims while also helping them navigate the labyrinth of information, resources and procedures. This will also help KSP troopers and detectives focus on what they do best – solving crimes and protecting communities.”
Katharine T. Sullivan, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, praised the initiative.
“The Department of Justice is excited about Kentucky’s new program and always happy to make these resources available to support crime victims at the moment they need it the most,” Sullivan said. “I’m confident that this program will serve as a model for other states, and I’m hopeful that it will set a new standard for law enforcement agencies everywhere as they seek to do more to respond to the needs of victims.”
KSP has begun interviewing and hiring victim advocates and will begin offering services as soon as the hiring process is complete.
Kentucky State Resort Parks are offering a discounted rate of $49.95/night on lodge rooms to residents of any East Coast state seeking shelter from Hurricane Florence. The rate for one bedroom cottages is $69.95/night and for two bedrooms, $79.95/night.
These adverse weather rates are available at all resort parks until September 30th by calling the park front desk direct. An out of state driver’s license must be presented at check-in to receive this rate.
Park locations and phone numbers are available at https://parks.ky.gov.
As in past years, Kentucky State Parks support surrounding states during adverse weather in the same manner we support Kentucky communities in a crisis.
Papa John’s founder, John Schnatter, claims in a letter to the pizza chain’s board of directors that his decision to step down from the board amid controversy over using offensive language on a conference call was “a mistake.”
The board of directors Sunday canceled Schnatter’s “founder” position and booted him from the company’s Louisville corporate headquarters. Last week, the restaurateur separated from the University of Louisville board of trustees last week. University President Neeli Bendapudi also announced last Friday that the school will drop the Papa John’s name from its football stadium, calling it simply “Cardinal Stadium” while the company acted to remove Schnatter’s likeness from their logo and advertising materials.
Schnatter said that the board asked him “to step down as chairman without apparently doing any investigation.” Schnatter agreed to the board’s request, although now says in his letter, “today I believe it was a mistake to do so.”
In his letter dated Saturday, Schnatter attempted to provide context for the use of his language during what the company’s former marketing agency called “diversity media training.” The embattled company founder claims that he was, in fact, attempting to distance himself from the use of such racially charged language in response to questions from the agency about whether or not he was racist. In the letter, he states that he “said something on the order of, Colonel Sanders used the word “N,” (I actually used the word,) that I would never use that word and Papa John’s doesn’t use that word.”
Schnatter continued on in the letter, claiming that the ad agency attempted to extort the company for millions more than what they were owed due to the offense taken by some of their employees over the founder’s comments. The Laundry Service, Schnatter claims, threatened to conduct a “smear campaign” unless they were paid $2.5 million – approximately twice what they were supposed to be paid.
The full text of Schnatter’s letter may be seen below:
Dear Fellow Board Member
I am writing because I believe it is important that you hear directly from me the facts and circumstances surrounding the events that were initially reported and mischaracterized in the July 11 Forbes story, “Papa John’s Founder used the ‘N’ word on Conference Call” and ultimately was carried in media across the country.
On May 14, Steve Richie, Mike Nettles, I and others in the company met with executives and staff of The Laundry Service, who shared their creative and strategy, at their offices in New York. As you know, we had been testing with significant success, my returning to the company’s advertising. On May 22, at their strong suggestion, I participated in what The Laundry Service called “diversity media training.” The idea was to prepare me for questions I might get as a result of my reappearance at NHRA on Saturday, May 26 in Chicago. (The Laundry Service, for those of you who don’t know, is an advertising and marketing agency which is part of the Wasserman Media Group.) During and after that meeting, The Laundry Service leadership strongly urged that our company retain Kayne West as my co-spokesman in the television spots and other promotions. I told them that would not work because he uses the “N” word in his lyrics.
During this diversity media training, which covered a wide number of topics, I was asked whether I was racist. I, of course said no — which is a truthful statement as those of you who know me well will attest and of course, if you felt otherwise you would not be sitting on the Papa John Board. I was asked if I was not racist, then why did I say what I did about the NFL situation? I said if you look at what I said, it was in no way racist. (The fact is, we completely mishandled the NFL situation from a public relations standpoint – both the Board of Directors and company leadership.) I then said something on the order of, Colonel Sanders used the word “N,” (I actually used the word,) that I would never use that word and Papa John’s doesn’t use that word. Earlier, I gave an example of a scarring experience I read about in Texas when I was growing up which further cemented my existing abhorrence of racism. The thought of this situation to this day sickens me. Let me be very clear: I never used the “N” word in that meeting as a racial epithet, nor would I ever.
I have talked to a Papa John’s employee who was in that room with me who confirmed my recollection of these events.
The next day, May 23, the company made the decision — not me — to fire the Laundry Service, with their last day being July 2. We owed them approximately $1.3 million. Of course, we said we would pay them what was owed, but they said they wanted $6 million because they claimed some of their people had been offended by what I had said. Moreover, one of their attorneys said they would conduct a smear campaign against the company and me unless we paid them what he was asking for. Unfortunately, the company gave in to this extortion attempt and offered them $2.5 million or roughly $1.2 million more than they were owed.
On July 10, we got a call from the Forbes reporter who wrote the above-referenced story. The reporter gave me 15 minutes to give him our comments and said he then was publishing the story. It published the next day. Please be assured, I am going to get the facts of this situation out, but we want to make sure we do it correctly.
The Board asked me to step down as chairman without apparently doing any investigation. I agreed, though today I believe it was a mistake to do so. I have checked with corporate governance experts who tell me that this was not a proper action by the Board. At the last meeting, a few of you raised the issue of whether I should step down as a director. Once again, those individuals were acting on rumor and innuendo, without any investigation — let alone a third-party investigation of the facts. And once again, the corporate governance experts with whom I consulted said this is not the proper action of either a director or the board.
I am confident that an examination of the facts will bear out what I have written in this letter and show that once again our company has demonstrated that it does not know how to handle a crisis based on misinformation. I will not allow either my good name or the good name of the company I founded and love to be unfairly tainted.
The Kentucky State Council for the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3) met Sept. 29 to renew its mission of supporting military families who transition between school systems.
“When a member of our armed forces is transferred to Kentucky, I want them to find this state and its school systems waiting with open arms,” said Gov. Bevin. “As Kentuckians and Americans, we should find ways to intentionally express our gratitude to these brave men and women. I am thankful to see this commission at work in Kentucky, and look forward to seeing how it will help honor those who put their lives on the line to defend and secure our liberty.”
Military families move between postings on a regular basis. While reassignments are often beneficial to a service member’s career, they can also add stress to military families, especially children. Issues facing these children include: Losing and making new friends, adjusting to new cities and bases, fitting in with new extracurricular/sporting teams and changing schools. The armed services and Kentucky have made great efforts to ease the transition of personnel, spouses and children.
“Kentucky’s MIC3 council has set an example of excellence on multiple occasions with how well it responded to the needs of our military families, and I’m looking forward to the impact we will continue to make,” said Col. (Ret.) M. Blaine Hedges, commissioner for the Kentucky MIC3 council. “We have a solid group of professionals, including legislators, local officials, Department of Defense leadership and the Kentucky Department of Education, and we are working toward a shared vision.”
The average military student faces transition challenges more than twice during high school, and most military children will attend between six and nine different school systems in their lives from kindergarten to 12th grade. More than half of all military personnel have dependents, and the impacts of reassignment and long deployments are key considerations when making long-term life choices.
“One of the critical aspects of a state’s membership in MIC3 is its obligation to ensure they hold State Council meetings on a regular basis. This provides the opportunity to plan strategies, and provide a forum to share stories and best practices,” said Cherise Imai, National Executive Director of the MIC3. “It is a testament to Kentucky and the other states engaging their councils that shows the importance they all place on these meetings. We salute military members that sacrifice so much for this country but remain focused on those left behind, the military children.”
The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children was developed by the Council of State Governments’ National Center for Interstate Compacts, the U.S. Department of Defense, national associations, federal and state officials, state departments of education, school administrators and military families. The MIC3 is a governmental entity operating under the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. All 50 states and the District of Columbia are members of the compact, which ensures the uniform treatment of military children transferring between states and public school districts.
For more information about the Kentucky council, visit https://education.ky.gov/educational/Pages/Support-Our-Military-Families-in-School-Transitions.aspx.
In accordance with the proclamation by United States President Donald Trump, and with respect for those who lost their lives in the Las Vegas massacre, Governor Matt Bevin has directed both American and state flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff beginning immediately until sunset on Oct. 6 to honor the victims and their families.
“What happened in Las Vegas was the handiwork of unadulterated evil in its vilest, most despicable form,” said Gov. Bevin. “Kentucky stands in solidarity with the citizens of Las Vegas and with all Americans in defiance of any act of terrorism against the citizens of our country. Today, and in the days to come, we will give thanks for the quick, decisive acts of first responders that prevented further tragedy. We mourn the lives that were lost, and we will honor their memory. We will pray for the families and friends of those who lost loved ones, and for those recovering from injuries sustained as the tragedy unfolded. We will not allow fear to rule our hearts—evil will not triumph against us. United we stand. Divided we fall.”
Gov. Bevin encourages individuals, businesses, organizations and government agencies to join in this tribute of lowering the flag to honor the victims and families of the Las Vegas shooting.
Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley says a recent meeting with White House officials demonstrates the broad interest among national business and policy leaders to improve public safety through stronger reentry programs.
Secretary Tilley, who has helped spearhead efforts in Kentucky to improve reentry, was among a group of national and state corrections experts who met last week with members of President Trump’s Domestic Policy Council and the White House’s Intergovernmental Affairs team.
The group discussed a range of issues, including the importance of reentry and the value of Congress’s Second Chance Act, the need to get business leaders’ insight on putting formerly incarcerated people to work, and more closely examining crime nationally and locally to understand the latest trends.
This meeting came on the heels of President Trump’s creation of the White House Office of American Innovation, which will use business models to help inform improvements in the operation of government.
Secretary Tilley noted the insight that can be gained from the business community when tackling the challenges formerly incarcerated people face during reentry.
“Ask any person in prison to name the most important thing they need to succeed in the community upon their release. The response will almost always be the same: ‘I need a job,’” Secretary Tilley said. “I’ve been working in criminal justice for 25 years and I’ve never seen the business community this engaged in these issues. With those leaders at the table, we can better understand the opportunities and challenges associated with hiring a person with a criminal record.”
The group included Kevin Kempf, former director of Idaho’s Department of Corrections and now director of the Association of State Correctional Administrators; Jefferson Dunn, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections; John Wetzel, secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections; Rollin Cook, Utah Department of Corrections executive director, and Michael Thompson, director of The Council of State Governments Justice Center.
“The Trump administration has made their commitment to public safety clear, and we met to discuss how the good work of corrections officials to reduce recidivism and improve public safety can be a key part of that equation.” said Kempf. “Corrections administrators collectively oversee more than 400,000 staff members and supervise more than 8 million people. The impact we can make is enormous, and following a very productive meeting with the White House, we’re excited about the next steps.”
In Kentucky, Secretary Tilley is chairman of a state panel – the Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council – which has studied data-driven evidence and recommended reforms for a smarter and stronger system of justice. Appointed by Gov. Matt Bevin, the council’s work has resulted in Senate Bill 120, a measure to reduce recidivism and improve public safety with more effective reentry.
“Almost everyone with a criminal record will eventually return to society. Our communities are safest when we provide these individuals a clear path toward employment and demand that they take personal responsibility for holding a job and turning away from crime,” Secretary Tilley said. “The council’s work has been critical in meeting these goals, and I want to thank Gov. Bevin for his leadership in these efforts.”
This week’s meeting also came shortly after the U.S. Department of Justice announced the formation of Crime Reduction and Public Safety Task Force, which will be charged with developing strategies to reduce crime and improve public safety. All the corrections leaders agreed that thoughtful approaches to reducing recidivism will be an important part to ensuring those the efforts of the task force prove successful.
On Monday, Gov. Matt Bevin restored the right to vote and hold public office to certain offenders who have completed their respective sentences and have applied for restoration of their civil rights.
The orders exclude individuals convicted of violent or sex crimes, bribery or treason.
“We have always been a nation of second chances,” said Gov. Bevin. “The criminal justice system should not exist solely to punish offenders, but also to rehabilitate and assimilate them back into society. Through this executive action, we are empowering men and women with the opportunity to become contributing members of our communities. Restoring the voting rights of certain low-level offenders is a significant step towards achieving this goal. There will be many more such opportunities granted in the months and years ahead.”
While the orders restore the right to vote and hold public office, they do not restore any other civil right, including but not limited to the right to receive, possess or transport in commerce a firearm or serve on a jury.
The Bevin Administration has initiated groundbreaking criminal justice reform efforts aimed at removing barriers for offenders to successfully reenter society.
In 2016, Gov. Bevin signed into law historic felony expungement legislation that gives non-violent felony offenders who have paid their debt to society a second chance. House Bill 40 allows Kentuckians convicted of certain Class D felonies—who have paid their debt to society, have stayed out of trouble as required by the law, and have shown that they are indeed trying to get back on track—to erase their criminal records and obtain a second chance at jobs, housing, and other opportunities sometimes denied felons.
Also, this past February, Gov. Bevin issued an executive order that removes questions about criminal history from the initial application for state jobs in the executive branch. The Fair Chance Employment Initiative means that applicants will not be required to check the box for criminal convictions on the initial state application, a policy in line with twenty-four states and more than 150 cities and counties across the nation.
Individuals who are interested in applying for restoration of their civil rights may do so by obtaining a form at any Probation and Parole office, or by contacting the Department of Corrections at 502-782-2248 or online at corrections.ky.gov, and returning the form to the address listed.