Thursday, May 11, 2006

Jessamine Newspaper Too Afraid To Print This

Jessamine County Sheriff's Captain Kevin Corman has quietly been shopping a plan to hand over the law enforcement duties of the Sheriff's office to the Nicholasville Police Department.

It isn't a new idea, but the fact that the Democrat nominee and heir apparent to Sheriff Joe Walker is discussing consolidation makes it worth asking about.

Interestingly, when questioned directly about his idea, Corman launched a distorted attack on the plan to spread citizen representation evenly across town with a Nicholasville City Council. He then denied that he wants all the salary that comes with election to the office but little of the responsibility that normally comes with the job.

(Note to reader: skeptical newspaper columnists love it when targets answer a direct question with dodges and unrelated political attacks. Kind of like waving a bloody shirt in front of a charging bull.)

Captain Corman might want to get better at answering questions before this fall, but an analysis of his years on the Sheriff's department suggests he lacks the experience necessary to really benefit public safety. All this might explain somewhat why four Republican candidates signed up for the chance to run against him.

After many years of picking Jessamine county's elected officials in the May primaries, registered Democrats eager for a law enforcement upgrade will have to wait to see who Republicans vote for in Tuesday's election.

Fortunately for all of us, three of the four candidates running in the Republican primary have some qualifications that suggest preparation for the job. But limited media coverage of the race has relegated what is easily 2006's most important countywide contest to a yard sign counting competition. That is a shame.

The job of primary voters is to choose their party's best chance to get elected in the November election. That charge would best be met this year by voting for Deputy Sammy Brown.

The Democrat nominee is a political appointee to the position of Captain. As Jessamine county growth brings more law enforcement challenges to the area, the time for partisan favoritism is past. Nevertheless, the fall campaign will be fierce -- and probably will get nasty. The most important base to cover is to nominate someone who knows the needs of the department. As a current Deputy, Brown can best fill the bill. This basic fact should keep voters focussed when the mud starts flying.

Deputy Brown earned the 2002 National Deputy of the Year Award. He won the award for keeping his cool on the morning of November 13, 2001 when all hell broke loose in Jessamine county.

Deputy Brown was serving a warrant with two other officers when the man they were pursuing opened fire with an M-1 carbine rifle at close range. Brown was hit with three shots and Deputy Billy Ray Walls and Captain Chuck Morgan were killed. Deputy Brown stopped the shooter and struggled to get to his car to radio for help.

At the time, Brown was only thirty years old and had been on the job a grand total of five months. He had already been awarded three letters of commendation.

Deputy Brown says that his first actions as Sheriff would be to put more officers on the street and to pursue grant money available to the department. The Sheriff's department already has the money for three additional deputies but, in an act of sheer political gamesmanship, Corman is promising jobs for after the election rather than filling them now. Poor recordkeeping in the Jessamine county department explains our inability to gain grants, a staple in well-run departments.

Jessamine county Republicans would do very well to vote for Sammy Brown on Tuesday. In a low turnout off-year election, every vote will count. And in this race, we can't afford for your voice to go unheard.