Bastin wins unanimous OK from council to become Lexington's safety commissioner

Lexington Police Chief Ronnie Bastin.
Lexington Police Chief Ronnie Bastin. Herald-Leader

The Urban County Council voted unanimously Thursday to confirm Lexington police Chief Ronnie Bastin as the next commissioner of public safety.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray announced the appointment Tuesday. A final confirmation vote will be next Tuesday, but that's a formality.

During a short confirmation hearing before Thursday's council meeting, council members praised Bastin for his more than 30 years of service with the city, including seven years as the top cop.

"I think it is a great opportunity for the city," said Councilman Steve Kay.

The council asked Bastin several questions about improving relationships with the city's minority communities given the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City related to the deaths of black men who were killed by white police officers.

Bastin said he had worked hard to develop relationships in the black community and with all segments of Lexington's population during his tenure as police chief.

"I will continue to develop those relationships," he said. Bastin also said Lexington's police department had received a grant for body cameras for some officers. The police department did not invest in cameras for police cars because it was waiting for the technology for body cameras, Bastin said.

When asked what his first priority would be as public safety commissioner, Bastin said he needed to familiarize himself with other areas of public safety in which he does not have as much experience. As commissioner, Bastin will oversee police, fire, corrections and 911 communications.

"I see this as a great opportunity," he said.

Bastin will begin his new job in mid-January. He will replace Clay Mason, who is leaving to go into the private sector.

Bastin, who was first in uniform as an officer at Blackburn Correctional Complex, joined the police force in 1984 and worked his way through the ranks, including in the department's Emergency Response Unit. He eventually became an assistant commander.

Bastin was appointed chief by then-Mayor Jim Newberry after Bastin's predecessor, Anthany Beatty, retired and accepted a job at the University of Kentucky. Bastin was appointed chief on Jan. 7, 2008.

His base salary as chief is $149,271.20, plus incentives. Mason's base pay is $124,847.80. Bastin will receive commissioner salary.

He will retire as chief in January, and will receive a police pension as well as the commissioner's salary.