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Monday, May 29, 2017

Police Department Annual Report highlights

Fort Thomas Police personnel participate in a wide range of community events.

by Robin Gee

The Fort Thomas Police Department Annual Report for 2016 is now available. Police Chief Mike Daly shared highlights of the report at the April city council meeting. Fort Thomas was recently named the Safest City in Kentucky, and Chief Daly credited his staff and strong relationships with the Fire Service and other city departments. 

Before launching into the full report, Chief Daly told a story that illustrates the heavy toll that the heroin epidemic is taking on the region. Earlier that week fire and police personnel responded to a call about an overdose of a young woman. The person calling 9-1-1 was the woman’s three-year-old daughter. The child was with her mother when she collapsed. The little girl ran to a neighbor’s house for help. The chief said the woman recovered but it was sad to see how this drug problem affects even the smallest members of our community. 

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The Year in Review

The report opens with a message from Daly discussing the department’s efforts to keep the public safe and to strengthen ties within the community. He thanked the 23 officers and Police Clerk Debbie Lucas for serving the citizens of Fort Thomas. 

A few highlights of the year include:

  • The department congratulated Sergeant Chris Goshorn on his retirement after 21 years of service to the community.
  • The department welcomed a new officer, Wayne Dutle, who most recently served as a Newport police officer.
  • William Hunt, who joined the department in 2003, was promoted to sergeant.
  • Public safety on the roads was front and center for the Fort Thomas Police Department this year. The department served 459 seat belt/child restraint charges and 61 DUI citations.
  • For their individual efforts in these campaigns, two officers received honors. Officer Nick Hoffman received the 2016 Governor’s Occupant Protection Enforcement Award, and Officer Michael Dietz was awarded the 2016 Governor’s Driving Enforcement Award.
  • The city earned a top honor as the Safest City in Kentucky in 2016 from the National Council for Home Safety and Security. With a population of 16,358, the city had only three violent crimes and 125 property crimes. The National Council reviewed FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics as well as population data and information gathered by the police department and the city.
  • Fort Thomas Officer Brandon Laffin became the first officer in Kentucky to successfully prosecute a case under the new Heroin Bill. Officer Laffin brought federal charges after pulling over a suspect on a traffic stop who admitted to buying heroin in another state to sell in Kentucky. The man was convicted of Importing Heroin and Trafficking in a Controlled Substance 1st Degree and sentenced to 10 years in prison under the new law.

Front Row (L-R): Sergeant Brent Moening, Officer Derek Faught, Officer Michael Dietz,
Officer Nathan Day. Back Row (L-R): Officer Doug Bryant, Lieutenant Casey Kilgore,
Police Clerk Debbie Lucas, Lieutenant Jamey Gadzala, Officer Zac Rohlfer

Sobering statistics

The annual report includes a comparison of citations from 2015 to 2016. While alcohol-related crimes were down from 58 in 2015 to 44 in 2016, the drug epidemic has taken its toll. There were 367 drug-related citations in 2016 compared to 285 in the prior year.

Overall, the department wrote more citations in 2016, going from 680 in 2015 to 813 in 2016.

Traffic citations increased only slightly over last year. The good news was some of the more dangerous violations were down. DUI citations went from 83 in 2015 to 49 in 2016, and speeding was down from 291 to 239. 

License violations went up, reflecting the department’s emphasis on safety. From 2015 to 2016, operator license violations went from 253 to 276 and vehicle license violations jumped from 199 to 333. 

Violations by juveniles were up from 59 to 70 with the biggest increase in alcohol-related incidents and in a category labeled “miscellaneous.” Despite the uptick for adults, juvenile drug-related violations saw a decline from 21 in 2015 to 14 in 2016. 

The categories covered in offenses reported to the Police Department rose to 680 in 2016 from 634 in the prior year.

Training: back-to-basics 

Officers are required to attend at least 40 hours of in-service training annually. With many new officers, training took a "back to the basics" approach in 2016. 

The report lists training received by all 23 individual officers as well as Chief Daly. Some training covered technical skills such as breath test operation and tactical pistol applications, while other training included criminal investigation, search and rescue, stress and wellness, leadership, legal and other issues. 

The department has continued its firearms training program in 2016. In recent years, much instruction time was spent in scenario-based training. This year, training focused on improving accuracy and basic skills. The department introduced firearms "roll call training" on all three shifts, putting the emphasis on accuracy drills to reinforce skills gained in formal range training.

Equipment needs

Several of the handguns in use by the department are ten years old or older. Officers experienced problems and failures with some of the equipment. Aging weapons have been an issue for a number of years. 

In preparation for new equipment, several officers participated in gun testing. They concluded that the Glock 17 was the best firearm for officers’ needs. The department is working on a budget proposal to purchase new Glock handguns in the 2017/2018 budget.

S.A.V.E. training event

S.A.V.E. stands for Swift Assisted Victim Extraction, a program that provides training and preparation for mass casualty incidents. The Fort Thomas Police Department joined with the Fire Department, officers from Dayton Police, AiG Public Safety and the U.S. Army Reserve Center for an active shooter scenario at Highlands High School. Police, fire and EMT worked together to practice assessing, treating and extracting casualties from such an incident.

Criminal investigations

The Criminal Investigations Division reported that, while the number of cases was down, the intensity and complexity of individual cases was up. Despite the difficulty these incidents presented, the department successfully closed 62 percent. 

The report goes on to discuss some of the more well-known cases in further detail. Cases in 2016 included a stabbing death at Fort Thomas Pizza, an I-275 rollover crash, a US Bank robbery, an accident that involved a vehicle ending up in the river, burglaries at Highland High School and middle school, an escaped prisoner from St. Elizabeth Hospital as well as several burglaries and car break-ins. 

A detailed case study of the I-275 rollover included in the report illustrates the many issues officers’ face in complex investigations as well as the deadly consequences of driving under the influence of drugs and the toll it is taking on families in our community. 

Community outreach

Several officers and their wives participated in the annual Cops and Kids event.

The Fort Thomas Police Department participated in the Citizens Police Academy in 2016. Detectives Adam Noe and Michael Rowland assisted in a walk-through of a crime scene and discussed cases with academy members. The detectives are members of the Campbell County Crime Scene Unit and worked with the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office to provide the four-hour training. 

Fort Thomas officers participated in the annual Cops and Kids event through the Campbell County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 10. Fifty-two kids participated and each child received $300 to purchase winter coats and clothing as well as some fun items. Officers and their spouses helped the children with their purchases at Meijer in Cold Spring. 

Detective Noe ran in the Children’s Advocacy Center 5K run fundraiser. The center supports the department during investigations that require interviewing children who are victims of crime and abuse. 

Officers from around the state participated in the Special Olympics Kentucky State Games 2016 by presenting medals to the winners. Officer Sean Donelan represented the Fort Thomas Police at the event. 

Regional partnerships

Statistics included in the report from the Campbell County Drug Task Force, of which Fort Thomas is a part, shared data on the quantity and street value of drugs taken off the street through the combined efforts of the task force. The task force handled 60 cases and took 51 traffickers into custody this year. 

The Fort Thomas Police Department is also part of the Kenton County Regional Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team. In 2016, the team added new cities to the collaborative effort. Three Fort Thomas officers are members. Sergeant Chris Carpenter, Officers Doug Bryant and Officer Michael Dietz received almost 180 combined hours of monthly SWAT training. As leader of the Designated Marksman (Sniper) Team, Sergeant Carpenter received more than 48 hours of additional training. 

Officer Bryant and an officer from the Covington Police Department each receive 48 additional hours of training in support of a program they created called the Explosive Breaching Program, The program enhances the SWAT Team’s ability to make rapid entries. Training includes physical fitness, room clearing techniques, vehicle assaults and other specialized topics. 

The SWAT Team was called in for one incident in 2016. The team assisted the Independence Police Department with a high-risk search warrant at the apartment of a suspect in an armed back robbery. The team was successfully in gaining entry to the residence. 

Officer Nathan Day with Bear Cub Scout Troop 390.

For a more information and to see the complete Fort Thomas Police Annual Report, go to the police department website.

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