Pubdate: Tue, 30 Sep 2003
Source: Courier-Journal, The (KY)
Copyright: 2003 The Courier-Journal
Author: Bruce Schreiner, Associated Press


Crime Package Includes Grants To Add Officers

Democrat Ben Chandler yesterday proposed a crime package that includes
a grant program to help local governments hire police officers.

With uniformed officers in the background, Chandler said the grants
could pay for as many as 380 officers.

Chandler did not give an estimate of the cost. But he promised that he
would make cuts in state government to pay for it if he's elected
governor over Republican Ernie Fletcher.

One source of cuts could be a reduction in political appointees,
Chandler said.

"If you ask me, it's a good deal - fewer political appointees and more
police officers," Chandler said at a news conference in Louisville
near memorials to firefighters and law-enforcement officers killed in
the line of duty.

A prominent feature of Chandler's crime platform is an attempt to
combat drug abuse, especially the illicit trade in methamphetamine and
the prescription painkiller OxyContin. Chandler said he would
designate a senior official of his administration to be a "drug czar"
to coordinate the effort.

Chandler, who has been attorney general for eight years, said Kentucky
is "mired in a ferocious battle with substance abuse."

Fletcher's running mate, Steve Pence, responded that Chandler's
drug-czar suggestion was late.

"This is something that Ben should have done five years ago, not five
weeks before an election," Pence, a former federal prosecutor, said in
a telephone interview.

As the state's top law-enforcement officer, Chandler "should have been
acting as the drug czar when this methamphetamine and OxyContin
problem was literally exploding across our state," Pence said.

Chandler said he has worked closely with law enforcement and
prosecutors to combat the spread of meth and OxyContin.

Republican attacks against his response to illegal drug use, he said,
were "like trying to blame the policeman for the commission of the

"We have done more in the fight against drug abuse ... than any
attorney general in the history of the commonwealth," Chandler said.

He said he led a task force that resulted in creation of a
prescription-abuse-monitoring system considered one of the nation's

Pence said the state's drug-abuse problem is "probably worse than it's
ever been. So whatever he's done, it's not been enough," he said.

Fletcher's crime proposals include expanding drug courts, which manage
drug-intervention and -treatment programs for nonviolent drug offenders.

Other portions of Chandler's crime package include:

Seeking unpaid leave for crime victims to allow them to attend court
proceedings involving their cases.

Ending backlogs in the Kentucky State Police crime lab. Chandler said
funding for the lab would be a high priority if he's elected.

Chandler promised not to pardon any member of his administration or
political organization convicted of violating state ethics laws.

He also said he would block any effort to free state inmates "before
they have served their time" as a way to balance the budget.

Gov. Paul Patton released several hundred prisoners to balance the
Corrections Department's budget and pardoned his chief of staff, labor
liaison and two Teamsters union allies, ending their prosecution for
alleged campaign-finance violations in his 1995 election.
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