(Click photos to enlarge)
MVA on I-65 at the 89 mm
The driver of a southbound Chevrolet
Trailblazer switched lanes and made contact with the rear of a Kentucky SAFE
(Safety Assistance for Freeway Emergencies) van. The Trailblazer then left
the southbound side of the roadway, rolled over, and came to final rest in a
wooded area alongside the Interstate. The driver and passenger were
transported to Hardin Memorial Hospital for treatment. Hardin County
Animal Control transported the driver's pet dog for treatment. Central Hardin Fire Department, Elizabethtown Fire Rescue,
Hardin County EMS, Kentucky State Police, and Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement
worked the scene. The accident occurred on the afternoon of July 16, 2007.
MVA on I-65 at the 76 mm
The driver of a northbound Chevrolet
Tahoe lost control and rolled the vehicle over into the median near the 76 mile
marker on I-65. The driver and several passengers were transported to area
hospitals by Hardin County EMS and by LifeNet Air Medical for treatment. Upton Fire Department,
Elizabethtown Fire Rescue, and Kentucky State Police worked the scene. The
accident occurred on the morning of July 12, 2007.
Structure Fire on St John Road
Kentucky 86 Fire Department, with
mutual aid from Rineyville Fire Department, extinguished a fire on the second
floor of a residence located in the 6400 block of St John Road. The fire
occurred just before noon on July 10,
2007. No injuries were reported.
MVA on Western Kentucky Parkway
at the 134 mm
The driver of a westbound Dodge
Dakota stated that she fell asleep at the wheel on her way home from work on the
morning of July 3, 2007. The truck crossed the median and the eastbound
lanes and came to rest in a wooded area off the eastbound side of the Parkway.
No other vehicles were involved in the accident. Central Hardin Fire
Department, Elizabethtown Fire Rescue, Hardin County EMS, and Kentucky State
Police worked the scene. The driver was transported to Hardin Memorial
Hospital for treatment.
MVA on I-65 at the 96 mm
A southbound Cadillac Seville entered
the path of a southbound semi tractor-trailer on the afternoon of June 27, 2007.
The two vehicles collided, and the semi pushed the car into a rock wall
alongside the Interstate. The driver of the Cadillac was transported to
Hardin Memorial Hospital with minor injuries. The driver of the semi was
not injured. Central Hardin Fire Department, Hardin County EMS, and
Kentucky State Police, and Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement responded to the scene.
Structure Fire on Poplar Drive
Elizabethtown Fire Department
extinguished a shed fire on Poplar Drive. The call was dispatched just
after 5 p.m. on May 30,
2007. Two adjacent residences suffered minor heat damage.
Elizabethtown Police Department responded for traffic control. No injuries
on I-65 at the 88 mm
On the afternoon of May 23, 2007, a
northbound Toyota Corolla left the roadway, spun around, and collided with a
large tree. Extrication of the driver took nearly an hour. The
driver was transported to University Hospital in Louisville by StatCare. Glendale Fire Department,
Elizabethtown Fire Rescue, Hardin County EMS, and Kentucky State Police worked
on Western Kentucky Parkway at the 132 mm
A traffic collision near the 132 mm
on Western Kentucky Parkway became a fatality a few days later when the driver
of a Honda passenger car died in the hospital of injuries sustained in the
accident. The Honda was traveling westbound when an eastbound commercial
box truck crossed the median, went airborne, and sheared the top off the car.
Central Hardin Fire Department, Elizabethtown Fire Rescue, Hardin County EMS,
and Kentucky State Police worked the scene. The incident occurred just
after 1 a.m. on May 19, 2007.
Fatal MVA on Middle Creek Road
Traffic Fatality Leads to Murder
article by Angela Townsend
photos by Steven Townsend
May 18 2007
A Hodgenville man has been charged with murder after fleeing the scene of a
traffic collision in which an Elizabethtown resident was killed.
Michael W. Toher, 30, was driving the Ford Explorer at the time of the
“He had just turned off Valley Creek Road onto Middle Creek Road, when he
dropped off the right-hand side of the road,” said Sgt. Bryan Sallee of the
Hardin County Sheriffs Office. “The vehicle slid down the bank into the ditch,
where it flipped and struck a utility pole.”
The incident occurred at 5:45 p.m. on Friday, May 18. Sallee says Toher climbed
out of the vehicle, spoke briefly with a witness, and fled the scene on foot –
leaving his two passengers to fend for themselves.
One of them, 50-year-old Robert Noel, had died in the collision.
“Toher and one of the passengers were restrained, and neither of them required
any medical treatment,” said Sallee. “Noel was unrestrained in the front
Though Toher fled, the other passenger stayed and spoke with deputies at the
Kentucky State Police responded with a canine unit, but there were too many
conflicting scents for the dog to successfully track Toher.
“We saw where he entered the wood line,” said Sallee. “Other people in the area
were searching the woods as well, trying to help us, but then the dog couldn’t
track the scent very far because there were too many people walking around.”
Toher contacted the Sheriffs Office Saturday morning and stated that he wanted
to turn himself in.
“We arranged for a meeting and went out and picked him up,” said Sallee.
Toher was initially charged with murder. On Monday morning, two additional
charges were added.
“We followed up with a charge of wanton endangerment in the first degree,” said
Sallee. “That’s a reflection of the other passenger, because wanton endangerment
means that someone is put in a position of serious physical injury or death as a
direct result of your actions.”
Toher was also charged with leaving the scene of an accident and failure to
“If there is damage over $500 or personal injury, Kentucky law requires you to
aid, assist, and do what you can to get emergency personnel to the scene or to
help that person until they do get there,” said Sallee. “Since he didn’t stick
around to help his buddy out, he is charged with this as well.”
Sallee said alcohol was a contributing factor to the collision.
“There were beer cans around the scene, and the vehicle smelled like alcohol,”
Toher was lodged in the Hardin County Detention Center.
Valley Creek Fire Department, the
Hardin County Sheriff's Office, the Hardin County Coroner's Office, and Kentucky
State Police worked the scene. Crews from Nolin RECC replaced the broken
DOCJT Inservice Training
Advanced Traffic Stops
Officers Practice Advanced Traffic Stops
article and photos by Angela Townsend
May 17, 2007
“There is no such thing as a routine traffic stop,” said Bob French.
Last week, French and Ted Florence, police instructors from the Department of
Criminal Justice Training, led 23 law enforcement officers through a 32-hour
course designed to heighten their awareness of the potential dangers that could
occur during one of the most common responsibilities they carry out. The course
was held at Elizabethtown Police Department, and the officers in attendance
represented a variety of agencies from Hardin and surrounding counties.
One officer was only two years out of the police academy. Another had worked in
law enforcement for more than thirty years. Whatever their level of training and
experience, French said this course – Advanced Traffic Stops – would enhance
their skills and call their attention to what might be an officer’s worst enemy:
“Everybody knows how to do a traffic stop,” said French. “But after you’ve done
several hundred of them, it’s easy to relax and start seeing them as routine.
Like any job, you adopt short-cuts to make your life easier. But that can open
the door for someone who has broken the law to take advantage of you.”
Officers must maintain a tactical state of mind, French said, which means
staying alert and constantly assessing the circumstances in order to choose the
appropriate course of action for each particular situation.
“Police officers are reactive to what is done to them,” French said. “They are
not aggressors. They are defenders. They have to be able to react quickly to
what they see.”
Vehicle stops are classified as low or high risk, or – the most dangerous –
“With high risk stops, the officer is aware of the danger,” said French. “You
know you’ve had an armed robbery, for example, and you’re in pursuit of fleeing
French said that with an unknown risk stop, there are indicators that something
out of the ordinary is going on beyond a simple traffic violation, but the
officer doesn’t know what the driver has done.
“Perhaps you stopped him for speeding. But why was he speeding? Is it because
he’s about to be late for work, or is it because he just robbed a store?” said
French and Florence discussed physical and verbal cues, along with other
indicators that the officer is facing potential trouble.
Various types of traffic stops were also addressed, including pedestrian stops
and pulling over vehicles that are not normal passenger vehicles.
“When we have to stop unusual vehicles – 18-wheelers, motorcycles, trucks
pulling trailers, boats, or campers, and recreational vehicles – we have to
change our tactics to maintain our safety when approaching that vehicle,” French
The class included practical exercises in which the officers fired Simunition
rounds – similar to paintball rounds – to add as much realism as possible to the
training. Florence said safety equipment is used to ensure the officers do not
get injured during the practical exercises.
“The scenarios cover most of the situations we taught them through the week,” he
said. “They cover everything from assisting a lost motorist to approaching an
escaped convict. The officers take turns role playing the criminals. Since we’re
using Simunitions, the officers know they could possibly be shot, based on the
nature of the scenario.”
Florence said the scenarios are geared to place a level of stress on the
officers as they respond to the staged traffic stops.
“These officers have been out of the academy for anywhere from a couple of years
to over 20 years,” he said. “Along the way, they’ve gotten complacent. They have
their own ways of doing things. We bring this class back periodically to give
them a refresher course and a reminder that this is the way you’re supposed to
“Vehicle stops have always ranked high on the FBI’s list of officers killed and
assaulted,” French said. “Across the United States, traffic stops are listed as
one of the top three situations in which officers are killed in the line of
duty. So we definitely feel that this is an area we need to address.”
French and Florence put the officers to the test on a sunny afternoon last week.
Traffic stops were staged on opposite sides of a parking lot. Before each
exercise, the instructors discussed with the officer portraying the criminal
exactly what his or her move would be. The responding officer had no idea about
the situation he or she was walking into. This, French said, is absolute
“The bad guy has the advantage of time,” he said. “When the suspect pulls over,
he is already planning what he’s going to do as the officer approaches. The
officer has to be alert and observant so that he is ready to react.”
The officers called on their training, perception, and discretion as they
encountered suspicious and potentially deadly situations. The infinite variables
of each traffic stop mean that no two will ever be handled in quite the same
way. The scenarios consistently demonstrated that point.
“On a traffic stop, you have no idea who you’re dealing with,” said French. “You
have to use good technique. It’s not just for officer safety. It’s for public
safety as well.”
“It’s a good reminder for us to pay closer attention when we pull somebody over.
I’ve seen some of the situations we’re practicing here,” said Elizabethtown
Police Officer Brad Miller, who has worked in law enforcement for sixteen years.
“But when you do something so often, you can start to take it for granted. This
training reminds us to get out of our routine way of doing things.”
Elizabethtown Police Officer Chris Morris said that while much of the training
was on the order of a refresher course, he found new information in the
discussion covering unusual vehicle stops.
“It’s not often that we pull over semis or recreational vehicles. It’s good to
know the things we need to be aware of when we do,” he said.
Louisville Metro Police Officer Brooke Benton agreed.
“Learning how to approach semis and other vehicles was something new for me,”
she said. “I was never really trained to do that specifically, so that
information is really beneficial to me.”
This particular Advanced Traffic Stops class was distinguished from all others
by one exceptional detail. It was the final class taught by Bob French.
French started his career as an instructor with the Department of Criminal
Justice Training in 1977. Earlier this month he celebrated his thirtieth
anniversary and announced his retirement.
“I’ve had a fabulous career. I had always wanted to be a coach, and this is
right along a coach’s line – training officers. I wanted to make sure officers
were more prepared for their careers than I was when I became a police officer,”
said French, who served on the Richmond Police Department for four years before
becoming a police instructor with the DOCJT. “And I have truly enjoyed it.”
French taught classes on campus to officers in basic training for twenty years,
and then began teaching in-service courses. He has taught at least 20 classes
per year at locations all across Kentucky, including Elizabethtown.
“The interaction with the officers in class has been the thing I’ve looked
forward to,” he said. “Traveling from Paducah to Pikeville and seeing the
different approaches to law enforcement by these officers – it’s been great to
work with them.”
“I’ve known him for 25 of the 30 years that he’s been with the DOCJT,” said
Florence, who will be taking over some of the classes French has taught. “I’ve
enjoyed working with him. He will be very much missed.”
“I thought it very appropriate that I’m on the road for my last class,” said
French, “and that it was this particular class, because though I have taught
Homeland Security and other courses, most of my classes have dealt with patrol.”
He left his final class of officers with essential parting instructions.
“Pay close attention to every encounter. Constantly assess what you see. Become
so intimately acquainted with your equipment that it functions as an extension
of yourself. Make sure that you are always prepared and that your equipment is
always ready for service. And make time to practice your skills before you are
forced to use them, because understanding and knowing a technique is one thing,”
he said. “Being able to actually do it – that’s something else.”
article by Angela
photos by Steven &
Blue lights flashed from law enforcement vehicles parked along both sides of
East Dixie at the I-65 overpass. Motorists stopped to have their driver’s
license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance checked by one of the
twenty-five officers conducting the Gold Standards traffic safety checkpoint.
A parallel checkpoint was conducted simultaneously on Hawkins Drive.
Since September 2004, Gold Standards traffic safety checkpoints have been
conducted one weekend each month in Hardin and Madison Counties in Kentucky. The
purpose of the project is to set standards for the state to follow regarding DUI
offences. The program, which was initiated by the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration, includes training for judges and prosecutors.
“We’re part of a pilot program,” said Elizabethtown Police Sgt. Greg Samaras.
“The NHTSA awards grant monies through the Kentucky Highway Safety Office. Those
monies are then distributed to law enforcement agencies throughout the state to
try to confront some of the main highway safety issues that we face. DUI is
always at the top of the list.”
The county’s DUI Coordinator collects and compiles the statistics of each
monthly checkpoint and submits the data to the Highway Safety Office. Every DUI
that originates at a checkpoint is tracked from the moment of arrest until the
case clears the court system.
Representatives from every law enforcement agency in Hardin County –
Elizabethtown, Radcliff, Vine Grove, and West Point Police Departments, Kentucky
State Police, Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement, and the Hardin County Sheriffs
Office – work together to conduct the checkpoint. Each month it is hosted by a
Elizabethtown Police Department hosted the event last Saturday night.
“More than 30,000 people a year in the United States are involved in motor
vehicle crashes,” said Sgt. Samaras. “The number of people killed behind the
wheel of a car is far greater than the total number of homicides in the country
each year, and the number of people injured behind the wheel of a car is much
higher than the number of people assaulted in the United States every year.”
Sgt. Samaras said that each checkpoint averages between 500 and 800 vehicles.
“The majority of those drivers are legal and sober and are detained a minimal
amount of time,” he said. “The actual contact with the officer is usually thirty
to sixty seconds. If the drivers are prepared and have their documentation
available, that cuts down on the time of the contact as well.”
When a motorist stops at the checkpoint, a law enforcement officer will check
the person’s driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance, and will
observe for any indicators that the person might be under the influence of
alcohol or any other intoxicating substance. Those who appear to be impaired are
pulled over to the side of the road for further investigation.
A DUI checkpoint nets other violators as well.
“Our primary focus is looking for impaired motorists,” said Sgt. Samaras. “We
also find a lot of drivers with suspended operator’s licenses and a lot of
people who are wanted on warrants. We’ve recovered stolen property. We’ve
recovered stolen vehicles. We find a multitude of different violations –
equipment, registration, insurance, things like that.”
Officers also observe for seatbelt and child safety seat violations.
“Not only do you have to wear your seatbelt and have a child safety seat
installed for your child, you have to wear that seatbelt properly, and have that
child safety seat installed properly,” Sgt. Samaras said. “A guideline to
remember is that an inch of play for a child, for the harness, and for the seat
itself, can lead to one foot of travel in a crash. If you have a couple of
inches that the child can move, and a couple of inches that the seat can move,
you can easily have four to five feet of travel in a crash because of the forces
applied to the child and to the seat the child is riding in. So it’s important
to have the child secured tightly in those safety seats and have the seat
secured tightly in the vehicle as well, because a child safety seat that is
installed improperly can lead to tragic results.”
According to the Hardin County Attorney’s Office, eleven DUI arrests were made
at the seven Gold Standards traffic safety checkpoints held between September
2006 and March 2007. Forty arrests were made on other charges. Twenty-nine
seatbelt warnings were issued, three seatbelt violations were cited, and 114
citations were written for various other traffic violations. Approximately 4,950
vehicles rolled through these checkpoints.
“There are a lot of statistics that show that keeping the highway safe through
enforcement efforts does more to keep the public safe than just about anything
else law enforcement can do,” said Sgt. Samaras. “The biggest impact we can have
in people’s day to day lives is keeping the highway safe through intensive
The Gold Standards traffic safety checkpoint program is evaluated annually by
the NHTSA and the Kentucky Highway Safety Office and is renewed based on results
from the previous year. The current program has been renewed through September
Survival & Rescue Training
Kentucky State Fire
Rescue Instructors hosted a 16-hour Firefighter Survival & Rescue Training
course on April 14 and 15, 2007, in New
Haven. Among those who participated in the course was Code 3 Images
photographer Steven Townsend, who has since completed his 150-hour certification
as a Firefighter with Central Hardin Fire Department.
Crisis Intervention Team Training
article and photos by
April 6, 2007
“I don’t have any friends,” said the young man in a dull monotone. “This is my
only friend.” He clutched a knife tightly with both hands. “There’s nobody I can
talk to. Nobody will listen to me.”
“I’m here now,” said Sgt. Pam Yates, “and I would like to listen to you.”
His name is Lee. Meade County Sheriff Carroll Kirkland and Sgt. Yates of the
Hardin County Sheriff’s Office responded to Lee’s residence Thursday afternoon
following a neighbor’s request for a welfare check after the neighbor noticed
that Lee’s car had not been moved for almost two weeks.
When they arrived, Lee was exhibiting signs of severe depression, and he was
Sgt. Yates and Sheriff Kirkland asked questions that guided Lee into gradually
revealing the downward spiral that led to his decision to take his own life.
True to her word, Sgt. Yates listened and indicated that she understood the
conflicting emotions that Lee was expressing. But when she asked if he would go
with her and Sheriff Kirkland to the hospital, Lee flatly refused.
“I’m doing you a favor by talking to you right now. I didn’t ask you to come
here,” he said, his angry words a sharp contrast to his passive tone of voice.
“I’m fine right where I am.”
This scenario, and others, was designed to help law enforcement officers
practice methods they had learned throughout the week during Crisis Intervention
“The CIT course is certified by the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council. It was
started by Louisville Metro Police Department in 2001,” said Connie Duncan,
Community Relations Representative for Lincoln Trail Hospital. “Frankfort City
Police Department is the only other department that has done CIT training.”
Duncan said this particular course, held at Elizabethtown Police Department, is
the first time CIT training has been available to law enforcement agencies in
the eight-county Lincoln Trail District. The 21 officers who participated in the
training represented ten police departments from seven counties.
“Senate Bill 104 would make CIT training available to police departments across
the state,” Duncan said. “Our course here in the Lincoln Trail District is being
considered as a possible pilot program for Kentucky. It will show communities
how they can work together to provide this training for police officers in their
CIT training provides officers with skills that help them better understand how
to deal with situations that involve mental illness and substance abuse. Duncan
said the two often go together.
“Eighty percent of people who have mental illness are also abusing alcohol or
some type of drug,” she said.
Sometimes the mentally ill will attempt to self-medicate using alcohol or drugs,
which cause reactions that can mimic symptoms of mental illness. The reverse is
also true. Some of the medications prescribed to treat the mentally ill can
cause symptoms that resemble drunken behavior.
“CIT teaches the officers about mental illness, including personality disorders,
post-traumatic stress disorders, and suicide prevention,” said Duncan. “They
learn about the psychotrophic medications a person might be taking to help with
their mental illness.”
Duncan said the scenarios were based on actual events that have taken place in
Louisville. Lee Roussell, who portrayed the suicidal subject talked into
treatment by Sgt. Yates and Sheriff Kirkland, is the Administrative Director of
Lincoln Trail Behavioral Health System. Duncan said all the mentally ill
consumers in the scenarios were role played by staff members from Communicare,
Hardin Memorial Hospital, Lincoln Trail Behavioral Health System, and the
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.
“Through CIT, we have a better understanding of what the consumer is going
through. We have a better concept of how to maintain officer safety and the
individual’s safety,” said Radcliff Police Officer David Hooker. “Before the
training, we might have automatically thought the person was using drugs or
alcohol. Now we know to consider that this person might be mentally ill.”
“Patience is a big factor – taking our time, knowing the right and wrong things
to say,” said Sgt. Yates. “We’re always trained to resolve situations quickly,
but this class has taught us not to be so quick to act.”
Sgt. Yates said it was also beneficial for law enforcement officers and mental
health professionals to share a learning environment that could help them all
gain a better understanding of each other’s perspectives.
Elizabethtown Police Officers Merle Young and Roy Williams are trained crisis
negotiators. CIT training parallels crisis negotiation training in a number of
“It’s along the same guidelines. We use a lot of the same techniques,” said
Officer Young. “It’s still a crisis, and we’re still facilitating the same
outcome. But with CIT, it’s consumer specific.”
“CIT gives us the authority to slow down and take time to assess the situation,”
said Officer Williams. “Police are trained to rush in, fix the situation, and go
on to the next call. But this training allows us to take more time to consider
the individuals and what they’re going through.”
At a ceremony Friday afternoon, the officers were presented with a graduation
certificate and a CIT pin depicting a pair of angel wings over the state of
The pin was designed by Bardstown Police Officer Robin Coomes.
“The outline of the state represents all law enforcement officers in Kentucky,”
she said. “The consumers didn’t ask to be mentally ill. They are innocent in
that regard. Police officers are guardians; they are protectors. The angel wings
represent protection, innocence, and compassion.”
Officer Coomes said people have seen her wearing the pin and asked her what it
means, which heightens community awareness of mental illness.
“Crisis Intervention Team Training is very valuable,” she said. “You learn that
there is more to the mentally ill than you initially thought. You learn
de-escalation techniques and alternatives to locking them up, and how to
persuade them to go voluntarily for treatment.”
Officer Coomes said officers can build a rapport over time with mentally ill
individuals to whom they frequently respond.
“When they recognize you and learn to trust you because you’ve been to see them
numerous times, it becomes easier to work with them,” she said.
“This course is the result of a real community collaborative between Hardin
Memorial Hospital’s LifeSpring Unit, Communicare’s Crisis Stabilization Unit,
and Lincoln Trail Behavioral Health, as well as the National Alliance for the
Mentally Ill and the police departments in our eight counties,” Duncan said.
“We’re pleased that so many different departments recognized its importance.”
Elizabethtown Police Department
article and photos by
March 16, 2007
“People get their
perceptions of what police officers do off television,” said Major Jack Harris
of Elizabethtown Police Department. “TV portrays that it’s all fast-action and
constant excitement, and every crime gets solved in an hour. That’s very
misleading. It leaves out a whole lot.”
A popular crime scene TV series crossed the mind of at least one member of his
audience. The investigators on that show have at their disposal a comprehensive
array of gadgets – “some of which don’t even exist,” said Major Harris – to help
them solve whodunit. They can conduct their own lab work on the evidence they’ve
collected in the field, or they can bully a peon into producing immediate
results. They don’t have to wait for months to hear back from the lab; don’t
have to bother with such mundane details as case numbers and police reports; and
aren’t required to defend any of their unconventional methods in a court of law.
They also command the luxury of working with only the most complex and
fascinating of crimes. No writing traffic citations or responding to activated
alarms for these cops. What’s not to love? However …
“That’s fiction,” said Major Harris. “What you’re going to experience here is
Elizabethtown Police Department is that reality, and the Citizen’s Police
Academy was designed by the department to give local residents a glimpse of what
real law enforcement looks like from the officer’s point of view.
The six-week program, conducted by Major Harris and Officer Virgil Willoughby,
began on the evening of February 19, 2007, with an introduction to the agency’s
structure, personnel, community service programs, and a summary of the most
significant investigations conducted during the past year.
Traffic collisions were examined during the second CPA meeting. Officers Richard
Dearborn and Brad Miller, who specialize in Accident Reconstruction, explained
the mechanics of a vehicle crash and its effects on the human body. They shared
some eye-opening facts that drove home the vital importance of obeying the speed
limit, wearing a seatbelt, and keeping your mind on your driving.
For example, the average driver has a 1.5 second perception and reaction time,
which means that from the time he or she recognizes the need to stop, the
vehicle will travel 120.94 feet before the driver’s foot hits the brake pedal.
If that person is driving at 55 miles per hour, it then takes 3.47 seconds – an
additional 140 feet – to stop the car.
Officer Miller concluded with a chilling observation.
“A collision occurs in one-tenth of a second – that’s how quick it’s over,” he
The Special Response Team and the Crisis Negotiation Team were the subjects of
the third class. The SRT staged a practical exercise at an abandoned house on
city property for the Citizen’s Police Academy. Armed participants entered the
residence in pairs, working together to locate the suspects who had taken refuge
there after committing a crime. The guns were real, but conversion kits assured
that they were capable of firing only Simunition rounds at the perpetrators,
role-played by the SRT.
The experience was serious fun for the Academy participants, who ranged from a
retired deputy sheriff to a woman who had never even held a gun. After everyone
had completed the scenario, the SRT demonstrated how entering and clearing a
house is actually accomplished.
The following week, EPD Detective Peter Chytla and Hardin County Coroner Dr.
William Lee presented a ‘Forensics 101’ class focused on death investigation.
Officer Willoughby and Sgt. Tim Cleary staged practical exercises during the
fifth meeting, following classroom instruction that covered rules of arrest and
control within the parameters of the Kentucky Revised Statutes and the Fourth
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Academy participants were again paired up to
assume the role of police officers responding to domestic disturbances and
felony traffic stops. These scenarios, more than any other element of the
Citizen’s Police Academy, provoked the startling awareness that no matter how
much civilians think they know about police procedures, an encounter with a
criminal who is willing to kill in order to stay out of jail is something that
those who haven’t been trained to deal with this type of confrontation can
Education was enhanced by experience when Academy participants observed the
information they had learned in class applied to real life incidents during a
ride-along with a police officer.
On graduation night, Major Harris presented each participant with a certificate
of completion, and individuals shared what they had learned during the
“I enjoyed the opportunity to get a better understanding of how police officers
work and to get to know them on a more personal level,” said Mark Thompson. “I
always wanted to be a police officer, and it never worked out. This was an
opportunity to learn more about it. The ride-along was my favorite part. It was
“It made me more aware of what EPD is capable of, and of all the training that
they have,” said Stephanie Hardin. “It creates a lot of respect for the police
department. I highly recommend it.”
Though her father, Major Harris, has been a law enforcement officer for all of
her life, Susan Harris had another reason for attending the Citizen’s Police
Academy with her fiancée, Christopher Smith.
“My fiancée is going to be a police officer, and I wanted him to see what it’s
like on the inside,” she said. “I really liked the SRT training, getting to
secure the house, as well as the ride-along and seeing how aware the officers
are – how they have to be so completely focused.”
Terri Wischhoff moved to Elizabethtown six months ago from Michigan.
“I liked all of it,” she said. “The ride-along, the instructors, their
presentations, they are all so professional. You can tell they care so much
about their jobs and about the community. They go over and above what it takes
to do their jobs.”
“We want people to see what we do,” said Major Harris. “We like to let people
know what our job is really about. I enjoy seeing people learn what it takes to
do the job. They’re always so surprised at what’s involved.”
“It’s a great opportunity for us to show people that there are many different
aspects to Elizabethtown Police Department,” said Officer Willoughby. “The
Citizen’s Police Academy is all about community awareness.”
Hay Trailer Fire
Central Hardin Fire
Department, with mutual aid from
Elizabethtown, Valley Creek, and LaRue County Fire Departments, extinguished a
hay bale fire on a trailer that had been traveling westbound on Lincoln Parkway
near Roundtop Road. The incident occurred on March 22, 2007.
Field Fire on North Black Branch Road
Elizabethtown Fire Department, with
mutual aid from Central Hardin Fire Department, extinguished a field fire behind
Dana Corporation on North Black Branch Road on the evening of March 12, 2007.
MVA on Wooldridge Ferry Road
A Chevrolet Camaro traveling at a
high rate of speed left the roadway along the 2300 block of Wooldridge Ferry
Road on the evening of March 4, 2007. The vehicle struck a utility pole and a
tree before coming to rest in a field. Witnesses stated that the driver and
passengers were removed from the scene by the occupants of a second vehicle that
had been following the Camaro. Central Hardin Fire Department responded to
provide traffic control while the Camaro was recovered. The incident is under
investigation by the Hardin County Sheriffs Office.
MVA on I-65 near Mile Marker 99
An injury vehicle accident occurred
on I-65 near the 99 mm at 7 a.m. on Sunday, March 4, 2007. The driver of a
southbound Lexus SUV, driving erratically and at a high rate of speed, veered
into the emergency lane and collided with the rear of an abandoned Ford Van. The
driver was transported to a hospital in Louisville in critical condition.
Central Hardin Fire Department, Hardin County EMS, and Kentucky State Police
responded to the scene.
Fatal MVA on I-65 in
Flemingsburg woman died in a collision on I-65 near Sonora on Friday afternoon,
March 2, 2007. Kentucky State Police report that the woman was traveling
southbound in a Chevy Trailblazer when, near the 81 mile marker, she lost
control of her vehicle and overcorrected into the median, where the vehicle
began to overturn. The Trailblazer was struck in the driver's side while
upside down by a northbound semi tractor trailer. The driver of the semi
was taken to Hardin Memorial Hospital with minor injuries. A one-year-old
passenger in the Trailblazer was transported to Kosair Children’s Hospital in
Louisville with serious injuries. The driver of the Trailblazer was
pronounced dead at the scene by Hardin County Deputy Corner Ken Spangenberger.
Field Fire on Lincoln
Central Hardin Fire
Department, with mutual aid from Radcliff and Valley Creek Fire Departments,
battled a field fire on Lincoln Road on the evening of February 09, 2007.
The call was dispatched at 6 p.m., and firefighters remained on the scene for
MVA on Hwy 62/Bardstown Road
Two vehicles collided in
front of Lincoln Trail Elementary School on Friday morning, February 9, 2007.
The driver of an eastbound Ford Taurus failed to see a Toyota Matrix that was
stopped on Bardstown Road waiting to make a left turn in to the school.
After the initial impact, the Ford Taurus left the roadway and struck a tree.
The driver of the Matrix was not injured. The driver of the Taurus was
transported to University Hospital in Louisville by LifeNet.
the Smoke Maze Trailer
article and photos by
February 08, 2007
“The time to find out you’re claustrophobic is now - not when you’re pulling
hose into a house fire at 2 a.m.,” said State Fire Rescue Instructor Everett
Four college students and a dozen Central Hardin firefighters signed a roster
and listened as Roberts outlined the upcoming training drills, which would begin
with donning personal protective equipment (PPE) and a self-contained breathing
apparatus (SCBA), and conclude with navigating the smoke maze trailer.
“Some of the basic skills we’ll cover include inspection, preventative
maintenance, cleaning, and sanitizing of your SCBA,” said Roberts. “You’ll learn
what to do in the event of an SCBA failure. You’ll learn how to maneuver through
a restrictive space wearing an SCBA, and how to deal with entanglement of the
One of the potential dangers confronting firefighters during a structure fire is
the wire that coils through flexible ductwork. When the coating and the
insulation of the ductwork burns away, the wire collapses into spirals that
dangle from ceiling to floor. The wire is virtually invisible in the thick smoke
of a burning structure.
“You’re left with a giant Slinky,” said Roberts. “You can become entangled in
that wire before you even know it’s there.”
After rushing to don their PPE through a couple of timed drills and learning
some SCBA basics, the trainees practiced crawling – in full gear, including SCBA
and mask – into an entanglement. Roberts showed them how to free themselves.
“If you get caught in wire, stop and use a swim stroke with one arm to sweep
back, up, and forward to hook the wire with your arm and push it forward away
from your SCBA,” he said.
Trainees also learned methods for finding their way out of a structure if they
were to become disoriented in a fire.
Once the basics were completed, it was time to enter the smoke maze trailer.
Roberts said the smoke maze provides an area in which firefighters can practice
search and rescue skills as well as build confidence in using the SCBA.
“The instructor can construct the inside of the trailer however he wants,” said
Roberts. “The walls are pieces of plywood in metal frames that can be moved
around into different configurations.”
The trailer has two levels. Firefighters and students enter in teams of two,
with one carrying a forcible entry tool. The team climbs a ladder at the rear of
the trailer to the second level. Once they crawl inside, the ladder is pulled
down and the door is closed behind them, leaving them in total darkness. If that
were not enough, an hour earlier Roberts had filled the trailer with nontoxic
smoke, similar to theatrical smoke, for added verisimilitude.
“Then they have to negotiate the maze,” said Roberts. “They’re following the
wall. The whole time they are searching for potential victims inside.”
Navigating the upper level leads the team to a hole in the floor that each
firefighter has to drop through to reach the lower level. Still following the
wall, they eventually make their way to the exit, which is a side door at the
front of the trailer.
But between achieving the lower level and reaching the exit, the firefighters
have to practice the skills they learned moments before.
“I placed thick wire, like the wiring you’d find inside a house, in the lower
level,” said Roberts. “If they don’t crawl low enough, their SCBA cylinders will
get caught in the wire, and then they’ll have to figure out, based on what
they’ve just learned, how to get free.”
And since they were searching for potential victims, Roberts placed one inside
for them to find.
“We used a doll to represent an infant,” he said.
The instructor stayed within close proximity as each team completed the maze.
“There’s a little observation area in the trailer where I can keep track of the
students and make sure they’re okay and not getting themselves in trouble while
they’re negotiating the course,” Roberts said.
Roberts, who is Central Hardin Fire Department’s assistant chief, is also a
college instructor teaching Introduction to Fire Services at Elizabethtown
Community and Technical College during the Spring semester. And while Central
Hardin firefighters participated in Thursday evening’s PPE/SCBA class to earn
training hours toward certification, the four college students in attendance –
Matt Keeling, Casey Hardesty, Nick Schepker, and Ashley McWaters – were there to
fulfill college course requirements.
“They have to complete a certain number of lecture hours and a certain number of
skill hours,” said Roberts. “This is one of their skill requirements that they
have to participate in.”
Schepker, 23, was a recruit for the Bardstown Fire Department from December 2005
to October 2006, and has been a firefighter since then.
“I’m going back to school to get a degree in Fire Sciences,” he said.
Schepker has been through all the training drills previously. Now, he said, it
is the academic work that presents the challenge.
“It’s one thing to do the hands-on, but to actually do the classroom work,
getting into the nitty-gritty of how things work and how things are really done,
and all the rules and regulations of the NFPA, that’s the challenge,” he said.
“But it’s a college class and you get credit hours for it, so it’s got to be a
“The Fire Rescue Science program at ECTC can be used to get an associate in
applied science degree, or the classes can be used as electives for students who
are pursuing other majors,” Roberts said.
Roberts said three of the college students who attended the PPE/SCBA training at
Central Hardin Fire Department plan careers in the fire service; the fourth
student is pursuing a career in Emergency Medical Response.
Schepker said his ultimate goal for his training and his college degree is to
become a career firefighter.
“This will bring me one step closer,” he said.
Central Hardin Fire
Department responded to a single-vehicle accident on Shepherdsville Road at 8
p.m. on Saturday, January 27, 2007. The driver lost control and left the
roadway, breaking through a fence and coming to rest in a field. He was
transported by Hardin County EMS to Hardin Memorial Hospital for treatment.
Truck Fire on Miller Road
Valley Creek Fire
Department responded to a vehicle fire on Miller Road on Saturday afternoon,
January 27, 2007. The vehicle was fully involved upon arrival and was a
total loss. No injuries were reported.
Injury Vehicle Accident on
Hwy 62/Bardstown Road
Central Hardin Fire
Department was dispatched to an injury vehicle accident on Bardstown Road at
Madden Drive at 6 a.m. on Friday, January 26, 2007. The driver of a
westbound pickup truck failed to see a semi tractor trailer pulling onto
Bardstown Road and collided with the rear of the tractor as the semi made the
turn. The driver of the pickup was transported to University Hospital in
Louisville by LifeNet. The driver of the semi was not injured.
Experience Urban Assault Training at Fort Knox
article and photos by
January 25, 2007
The team advancing down the street is at every possible disadvantage, knowing
that enemies lie in wait to ambush their approach, aware that an IED could erupt
with each step. Debris against the buildings pushes the team out into the open,
away from the relative security of the walls. On one side of the street, a
little boy smiles from a second-story window as a gunman appears with his weapon
pointed through a window on the first floor. On the other side, simultaneously,
a bomb detonates in the bed of a pickup truck.
Welcome to Hogan’s Alley, the second of five stations on a course designed to
allow military units, SWAT teams, and rescue squads to customize their training
in preparation for challenges from combat to confined space rescue.
“It’s called the Burcham Urban Assault Course,” says Facility Manager Gerry
Smith of the five-acre complex located on Fort Knox. “It’s a unique type of
range in that we do not have a standard scenario. We give you a capabilities
briefing on what we can do and what we have to offer. It’s up to you as to how
you want to use it.”
The Elizabethtown Police Department Special Response Team came to the UAC for
the benefit of a new training environment.
“We have two properties on which we currently train,” says Asst. Team Leader
Virgil Willoughby. “When you run through the same floor plan so many times, it
gets very repetitious and doesn’t require you to think a whole lot in regard to
what you’re doing.”
The structure of the UAC, paired with the tactical skills of Smith and his
staff, ensures that no two walks through Hogan’s Alley – or any of the other
four stations – are ever the same.
The course has been used almost daily since construction was completed in April
2006. Some groups schedule to train for one eight-hour shift; others stay as
long as a week. The course is available to smaller teams, such as the
nine-member SRT, and accommodates larger groups as well.
“If it’s a basic training group, there will be 200 people here,” Smith says. “A
lot of the units that are coming here now are basic training units, and this is
their first education in urban ops. This is where the troops are learning how to
maneuver in urban terrain and how to enter a building.”
The Burcham UAC is comprised of five stations. The first is a series of open
rooms in which stationary targets can be placed if so desired, but trainees do
not have to contend with furniture or debris.
“Station One is initial entry, where they just learn how to enter a building,”
Smith says. “At the first stage you can enter the room, and you can see that
nobody is in there. But you need to know the technique on how to get into a
room, and you need to know which area of the room is your responsibility.”
Trainees may then move on to Station Four, a two-story building with a maze of
small furnished rooms.
“Now you’re tasked not only to come into the room, but to search that room
systematically,” Smith says. “Once you have a foothold in that room, then you
can proceed and clear the entire building.”
Station Four adapts to offer very basic to very intensive training. While pop-up
targets can be hidden around corners and behind doors and furniture, this
building also has mouse holes that can be opened in the floors and ceilings to
accommodate live opposing forces.
“The military will do paintball wars here,” says Smith.
A 42-inch concrete pipe in the basement of Station Four leads into Station Five,
an underground network of concrete tunnels and manholes that mimic a sewer
“There are dead ends and ways to get lost down there if you don’t know which way
you’re going,” Smith says.
Station Three is a grenadier lane with a building façade.
And Station Two is Hogan’s Alley, a street that dead ends into a building, with
structures along both sides.
The targets are self-contained and can be placed anywhere on the course. Smith
and his staff control the pop-up targets and the pyrotechnics in all five
stations from a lap-top computer. Targets can also be rigged to motion sensors
that are similar to the safety sensor on a garage door. When the approaching
trainee breaks the beam, the target is activated.
Teams practicing on the UAC can also bring noise to be played over the outdoor
sound system – deafening music, or the rage of a riot – to heighten the stress
of split-second, shoot-or-don’t-shoot decisions. Not all of the pop-up targets
are gunmen. Some are civilians. Some are children. And some of the gunmen are
aiming from behind hostages. The noise interferes with the team’s ability to
communicate with one another, as well as with the individual’s ability to focus.
“This is not a standard range,” Smith says. “It is completely tunable to the
customer, and we can create a scenario to fit whatever level our customer is at.
Whether they are just beginning, or are high in special ops, we hope that we can
meet their needs and they can get benefit out of training here.”
“Burcham Urban Assault Course has so many different areas in which to train, and
they can manipulate their targets to make each situation completely different,”
says Willoughby. “It was a new training environment, which challenges us and
makes us think a lot more. It was a great experience, and we look forward to
Van Fire off Hwy 313
An abandoned van caught fire along
the shoulder of Patriot Way off Highway 313 on the night of January 22, 2007.
Central Hardin Fire Department arrived to find the vehicle fully involved.
The van had no tags and was believed to be stolen. The incident is under
investigation by the Hardin County Sheriffs Office.
Structure Fire in Cartwright Estates
Central Hardin Fire Department, with
mutual aid from Lebanon Junction and Boston Fire Departments, battled a fully
involved modular home fire on the afternoon of January 14, 2007. The
abandoned house was difficult to access, sitting more than 400 feet off the
highway down a dirt lane that was churned to mud by recent rainfall. The
structure was a total loss. Cause of the fire is under investigation by
the Hardin County Sheriffs Office.
Pickup Truck Fire on Miller Road
Central Hardin Fire Department
responded to a vehicle fire at the intersection of Youngers Creek and Miller
Road at 10:30 p.m. on
January 11, 2007. They arrived
to find a Dodge Ram pickup fully involved. There were no injuries.
Structure Fire on Hwy 62/Bardstown Road
Central Hardin Fire Department, with
mutual aid from Boston Fire Department, battled a structure fire on Bardstown
Road on January 7, 2007. Firefighters responded at 8 a.m. to find the
modular home fully involved and remained on the scene for more than four hours
No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation by
the Hardin County Sheriffs Office.
(Click photos to enlarge)