LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - They are problem officers who still can wear a badge, prompting the police to police themselves.
This week, Frankfort made a move to make it easier to kick out the few bad apples by making it easier to take their officer certifications away.
Last week’s WAVE 3 News Troubleshooter investigation on problem officers being re-hired at other departments drew a strong response from viewers, the state’s Fraternal Order of Police and from officers themselves saying they want to protect the badge, not bad behavior.
This week, Frankfort agreed. The House has now voted in favor of House Bill 191, which would make it easier to take an officer’s certification away.
Right now, an officer has to be convicted of a felony in order for him or her to lose that certification. So, if an officer quits in the middle of an internal investigation, that record may never come up again if he or she goes to work somewhere else.
That was exactly the case with former LMPD Officer Kenneth Betts, who has pleaded guilty in the high-profile LMPD Explorer sex abuse scandal. He was allowed to resign during that internal investigation, and a criminal investigation was never initiated. He then went on to work as a code enforcement officer at Rolling Hills.
House Bill 191 aims to stop that from happening.
“House Bill 191 helps ensure the reputation of those honorable officers and their departments by weeding out the few who have engaged in questionable or illegal activity,” Rep. John Blanton, who sponsored the bill, said before the vote.
The bill also would allow for de-certification in instances that may not be criminal, like in the case of former Prospect Assistant Chief Todd Shaw, accused of making racist statements through Facebook.
That bill would not only stop bad actors from jumping from one department to the other, but it also would hold the agency’s feet to the fire if it turns a blind eye.
The bill also requires departments to report to the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council any officer who retires, quits or is fired during an internal or criminal investigation. A hearing would then take place to decide whether to de-certify that officer.
If the decision is made not to de-certify then the police agency could lose funding, up to $4,000 for very officer in its department.
Bill 191 heads to the Senate next.