Wednesday, February 13, 2013

5 Things to Know: Fort Thomas Police Department


The 5 Things to Know feature has covered Fort Thomas entities from jewelers to hair dressers; from local news programs to the businesses you frequent.  I wrote an article about the lesser known facts of the Fort Thomas Fire Department, so it was only fair that I contact the Fort Thomas Police Department to gather some interesting details.


I reached out to Lieutenant Ken Fecher of the FTPD to gather some information about our men in blue.  Ken was kind enough to respond with some of the most in depth, and interesting facts I have gathered to date.

Here are five things that you may not have known about your Fort Thomas Police Department:

1.)     What most people don’t know is just how long it takes to become a Fort Thomas police officer.  Once applications are received, a written test is given to all applicants. These tests are graded and only the top 10 scores move on in the process.  From there a physical agility test is given, followed by a thorough background investigation by our detectives, including a criminal history, license check, credit screening report and interviews of neighbors, employers and acquaintances along with a home interview with the applicant.   Applicants that are still qualified at this point are then sent to the police department hiring board for an interview.  From this point, the top applicants are submitted to the City Council Safety Committee for one last interview.  Once the Safety Committee has made their decision, a conditional offer is made and yet more testing takes place.  At this point the conditional employee is required to pass a psychological exam, a polygraph examination, physical exam and drug screen.  The entire process can take three to six months just to get to the police academy.  All of our officers graduated from 18 weeks of Police Academy training and have 14 weeks of field training once back with the department.  Each officer must perform 40 hours of in-service training each year.

There are 23 police officers and one police clerk in the department and we are often asked what type of person do you hire?  Well, there is no set model.  We are quite a diverse group.  The Chief, 3 lieutenants and 1 sergeant are all graduates of the FBI National Academy.  17 of us have college degrees and 3 of us have a master’s degree and 3 are working towards a degree.  Graduates are from Northern Kentucky University, University of Cincinnati, Georgetown College, Eastern Kentucky University, Centre College, Cincinnati State, College of Mount Saint Joseph, Morehead State University, The University of Tampa and Ohio College.  Study fields and degrees are in, Criminal Justice, Police Administration, Aviation Administration, History, Economics, Construction Management, Criminology, Geology, Public Administration, Political Science, Social Work, Sociology and Spanish.

Officers also participate in a wide array of specialty task with the department.  There are 3 officers on the Regional SWAT Team, 1 SWAT Sniper, 3 officers on the Major Accident Reconstruction Team, 1 certified Accident Reconstructionist, 3 Crime Scene Investigation Officers who are members of the County CSI team, 2 RAD Instructors (Rape Aggression Defense), 2 detectives, and 1 Information and Technology Officer.
Ages of officers range from 22 to 47 years of age.  Current longest working officer has 23+ years of service with Fort Thomas Police.

2.)    The Fort Thomas Police Department are the proud owners of a genuine Thompson .45 Caliber machine gun, otherwise known as a “Tommy Gun”.  This gun is unique in that it was given to the department back during the Newport Steel Plant Riots of 1921-1922, and it was given to us by Mr. John T. Thompson of Newport, who invented the gun in 1919.  From what we have been able to uncover, Newport police received 6 of these weapons, Campbell County Police received 4 and Fort Thomas Police Received 2.  Our Thompson is the sole surviving gun out of the 10 as all others were traded away for other departmental needs over the years.  Our Thompson still has the classic 50 round drum barrel and is in complete working condition.  It is on display at the Fort Thomas Police Department.

3.)    Did you know, that as many as 9 out of 10 thefts that take place from vehicles, and theft of vehicles in Fort Thomas happen because they were left unlocked?  The majority of these crimes are thefts of opportunity, most often at night, because the common thief will go through a neighborhood and pull door handles.  All too often the unlocked cars also have valuables left out in plain view and some even have the keys left in the car.  In a series of stolen cars a couple years ago, every car stolen was unlocked and had the keys left in it. Securing your property is the number one precaution that can be taken to reduce theft.

4.)    In 2012 the Ford Crown Victoria was no longer available as an option for a police specific sedan as Ford discontinued the model.  Fort Thomas conducted a study of the various police cruisers that were available.  Ford presented their new Interceptor, a police specific sedan based on the Ford Taurus frame, the Chevrolet Caprice and the Dodge Charger.  Officers test drove, evaluated, and rated all three vehicles.  The hands down winner was the Dodge Charger.  Better yet, it was the least expensive vehicle even with an 8 cylinder engine.

The Charger offered a wide array of features and equipment that made it by far the best choice.  We chose the 8 cylinder model because Fort Thomas does not have a take home cruiser fleet.  Our cruisers run longer and harder than those with home fleet.  Although by looking at it, the Charger would not appear to be the best fit, most comfortable and provide the best visibility, but it does.  We felt by comparison that it had the best computer aided handling and traction control, power train, and factory pre-setup to become a police cruiser was the best we've seen in decades.  Internally we added the hands-free phone option and connectivity package which allows officers hands free usage of a smart phone while in operation.

The acquisition of the Charger also changed how we upfit the car into a Fort Thomas Police Cruiser.  A lot of internal changes had to be made as old equipment which was reused for years in the Crown Victoria’s was due for replacement.  Police cruisers do not come from the factory with stripe packages in place or with internal specialty equipment.  For years we paid to send the new cruisers out to someone who upfit them with the sirens, the radios, lights, and much more.  With the purchase of the 2012 Charger we upfit the cruiser ourselves except for the striping package.  All installation work was done by Detective Brent Moening and Lt. Ken Fecher with guidance from the City’s own staff mechanic.

5.)    In a one year period, the Fort Thomas Police respond to an average of almost 17,000 calls for service.  In 2012 we performed 5683 area and business checks, made 625 vacation checks, made 2896 traffic stops, issued 401 speeding citations, issued 109 seat belt violations, wrote 1755 written traffic warnings, responded to 425 automobile accidents, made 92 DUI arrests, made 43 other alcohol related charges, and made 156 drug charges. 

These are just the highlights of our statistics.  For a full look at our statistics, you can look to our Annual Report located on the Police web site http://www.ftthomas.org/Police    The 2012 Annual Report will be available after presentation to City Council in lat
e March.

The process to become a police officer in Fort Thomas is rigorous and demanding.  After it’s all said and done, it is clear that only the very best are awarded the honor of calling themselves a member of the FTPD.  Get to know your service men and women, and the next time you see one of these faces, let them know how much you appreciate their service.

Special thanks to Lieutenant Ken Fecher for compiling the information for this article.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Only 401 speeding tickets with 1755 written warnings..

Seems the perception is that they hand out a lot more speeding tickets, than those stats show..

Anonymous said...

so perhaps they should write more tickets, good for the economy.