SPD aces Safety and Liability Review

Oct. 27—Monday's Somerset City Council meeting included a special recognition for the Somerset Police Department and a citizen looking to expand services for those with Down Syndrome into the Lake Cumberland Area.

First was the SPD's recognition, which came from the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) and its Senior Law Enforcement Consultant Brian Nunn.

Nunn explained that because the KLC insures cities like Somerset, there are certain programs that cities can participate in to lower those costs.

"Being a police officer, there is a ton of liability associated with that," Nunn said. "Unfortunately, sometimes we have to shoot folks, and we have to drive really fast chasing folks. We take away people's freedom. We take away people's property. Sometimes we have to take away people's children."

That liability translates to costing the city in insurance premiums, which are payed for by the taxpayers of that city.

"There's only two ways — as the folks that insure your city — that you guys can save money with your police department. One of those is being accredited by the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police, which you all are," Nunn said, pointing out that SPD Chief William Hunt is the current president of that organization.

The second way to save money is for the police department to undergo an audit, called the Safety and Liability Review, through KLC. The audit is conducted every three years, and departments need to score above an 80.

"And I'm telling you, with you guys and your policy and your training and your leadership, you guys would have an 80 standing on your heads," Nunn said.

In fact, the department scored a 100 percent for the first time in its history.

Nunn admitted that the SPD has been close to that 100 in the past — one year he dinged them on not having body cameras, but now they have them; he once dinged them once for not quite meeting training recommendations for the SWAT team, but now they have — but with the department finally reaching that 100% score, Nunn presented Chief Hunt with a plaque commemorating the occasion.

Nunn was quick to say that the award wasn't going just to Hunt, saying that it was the work and leadership of all members of the department which contributed.

Also at the meeting, the council heard from Amy Roberts, a local nurse who is the parent of a 5-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome.

Roberts said that when her daughter was born, the family knew that she likely had the condition, but had to wait before getting her tested and confirmed.

During that testing, though, Roberts detailed how the medical staff weren't able to assist them further.

"They were like, 'Here, your kid has Down Syndrome, by the way she failed her hearing test, her newborn screening. Goodbye. Good luck.'"

She added, "It wasn't their job per se to do anything differently, so I'm not negatively speaking [about them]."

The family began scrambling for resources, but found none in the Somerset area. Eventually they connected with the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky, located in Lexington.

That organization was able to connect the family with programs, therapists, assistants and other resources to help them.

Recognizing the need for such assistance here — and that driving all the way to Lexington is a barrier for many local families — Roberts and Lexington staff helped draft a contract for Roberts to begin spearheading a Somerset or Lake Cumberland Chapter of the organization.

That led her to speaking to Somerset council members, because she said the most pressing need is space.

"We have the volunteers, we have the resources, we have the tools, we have the therapy equipment, we have the support of local physicians ... just not a home base delegated to where we could have monthly meetings or keep the supplies," she said.

Roberts told Mayor Alan Keck they only need a small, office-sized space to get started in.

Keck said that he had a meeting with another group this week who is interested in bringing in a Boys and Girls Club, and he would add Roberts' request for space to the list of needs for similar organizations.

"I'll personally work hard on this and I know members of this council will as well," Keck said.

Carla Slavey can be reached at cslavey@somerset-kentucky.com