I am privileged to have served Woodford County as a district court prosecutor for almost 35 years now, and I’m honored to have worked with dozens upon dozens of law-enforcement officers from various agencies — the Versailles police (the Blue), our Sheriff’s department (the Brown) and Kentucky State Police Post 12 troopers (the Gray).
These fine men and women have proudly served us with distinction and dignity. They should not have their good names besmirched by the failed witlessness of a hater.
It is patently unfair for columnist Larry Webster to have relied upon the actions of a few officers (notably, none from Kentucky) as the basis for character assassination of police officers in general. It is particularly heinous of him to make such disparaging statements in light of these brave protectors now literally being assassinated at an alarming rate.
Webster joked about putting all police on bicycles, and if they want to arrest someone they can “call a cab.” He knows the police are bound to make arrests, as in response to a domestic-violence assault and when a judge issues a warrant for someone.
Webster then suggested that we disarm police. Let’s see, we allow the public to carry firearms (even automatic assault weaponry), but we don’t allow those sworn to protect us to be armed? He even implies that the sole purpose of police dogs is crowd control, and, specifically, to “snarl at the poor.” Most canine units are utilized for perhaps the greatest threat to our society — our ever-worsening drug epidemic. Our state would be far better served if all police departments had these partners in crime detection and prevention.
Webster, an attorney, shamefully and disgustingly says police do not tell the truth. He conveniently ignores the obvious: Some defendants lie under oath.
He says motorists do not weave, and don’t have tail lights out when stopped by police for those reasons. Well I’ve seen countless cases where the defendants bring their bulb-replacement receipts to court. I’ve viewed police dash- and body-cam videos that show the weaving Webster says never existed.
Webster’s last putrid pun is a slam on the governor’s criminal law-review panel, saying it is stacked with “punishment-freak types.” He doesn’t have a clue as to the feelings and beliefs of all of those members, yet he is allowed to criticize them as if he does.
For example, Warren County Attorney Amy Milliken, who serves as president of the Kentucky County Attorneys Association, was appointed to that committee. As treasurer of that association, I have worked with Milliken for years. She is an outstanding prosecutor, and just the kind of fair-minded person that board needs.
Webster acts as if prosecutorial-type minds dominate the General Assembly, when he knows the opposite to be true. There are some former prosecutors in the legislature whom I’ve worked with, such as Sen. Ray Jones of Pikeville and former Rep. John Tilley from Hopkinsville, who is now secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.
However, the defense leanings of many legislators have slowed, stunted or stymied some of prosecutors’ best efforts to seek needed changes in our criminal laws.
Conveniently, Webster failed to note that current prosecutors cannot run for the legislature, but defense attorneys may. There are many good, experienced defense attorneys in our legislature who understand our criminal-justice system. But so do judges, prosecutors and, yes, police.
These are the same officers with constantly changing work schedules, whose every shift entails risk to their well-being. Imagine the trepidation; never knowing who, or what danger, awaits them. These officers are also routinely dispatched to horrific accident or homicide scenes, which, sadly, might even involve child fatalities. They carry those devastating images with them not for just the rest of their careers, but for the rest of their lives.
I think of their families who constantly wonder and worry. It is for these and other reasons that I, and other like-minded individuals, found Webster’s attack loathsome, inexcusable and in dire need of a reply.
Many of us, as well we should, when we see soldiers thank them for their service, and for literally laying their lives down for our country. Likewise, our police — the Blue, the Brown and the Gray — should be held in high esteem.
So, the next time you see a peace officer, please let that person know that his or her service is appreciated. A simple “thank you” would be a most welcome, and warranted, greeting.
Alan J. George is the Woodford County Attorney.
At issue: July 16 column by Larry Webster, “Heal the black/blue divide: disarm police, no vicious dogs”