Pubdate: Wed, 10 Dec 2003
Source: Kentucky Post (KY)
Copyright: 2003 Kentucky Post
Author: Shelly Whitehead


FOP Vote Still On Schedule

With hundreds of police officers set to consider a vote of no
confidence against Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Bill Crockett
tonight, the much-rebuked prosecutor met for hours Tuesday with
Covington's police leadership. The meeting was an attempt to address
concerns officers have with Crockett's office.

Sgt. Bryan Allen, president of Covington FOP Lodge No. 1, said he and
Covington Police Chief Tom Schonecker spent nearly four hours with

Allen said the meeting evolved out of a conversation last weekend
between Crockett and Schonecker about officers' growing lack of faith
in the commonwealth attorney's performance.

Last Friday, Allen announced that Covington FOP members planned to ask
members of Kenton County's four other FOP lodges to join them in a
public censure of Crockett. With more than 100 officers, Covington has
the largest FOP Lodge in the county.

Covington police have said they are troubled by a perceived trend by
the commonwealth attorney's office to reduce or drop felony charges
against suspects.

Police also have said that Crockett's office often takes too long to
prepare a case for trial or is ill-prepared to prosecute a case once
it goes to court.

The prosecutor, elected three years ago over long-time incumbent Don
Buring, also has been criticized often from the bench by the county's
four circuit judges  for similar reasons.

"I think we both agreed a lot of the problem was communication to
officers,"Allen said after Tuesday's marathon session. "He (Crockett)
said he has some plans to better this. ... He was receptive to what
officers had to say.

"He's looking at doing some changes in the way preliminary hearings
are done ... and getting an easier way to communicate with the
officers. So it was a productive meeting."

Allen said he brought five recent cases investigated by Cov-ington
officers to the meeting to represent the concerns police have with
Crockett's handling of some cases.

Allen said Crockett showed a "willingness" to resolve problems with
police, largely by improving communication with officers about shared

Crockett said the meeting went well. "We discussed a bunch of things.
- -- I think it went well."

Crockett said the chief called him and arranged the

"It was a cordial meeting," Crockett said. "I explained my position;
they explained theirs. Professionally, we agreed to disagree. It
wasn't confrontational. There was no anger. There was no shouting. I
think it went very well."

Crockett's approval of a plea deal for a soldier who led police on a
drunken, crash-ridden pursuit through Covington Nov. 29 prompted the
Covington police to begin organizing to act against the prosecutor's

Tonight, Covington FOP Lodge No. 1 members will decide whether to
issue a vote of no confidence in Crockett's abilities to perform the
job of the county's chief prosecuting attorney for the most serious
felony crimes.

Leaders for the four other Kenton County FOP lodges representing
officers in departments countywide will attend that meeting and are
expected to recommend that their members vote in unison with Covington
FOP members on the issue.

Allen said he believes the vote will still occur tonight and likely
will result in the vote of no confidence. However, after Tuesday's
meeting, he said it's possible police will make their rebuke
conditional on Crockett's promised improvements coming to fruition.

"This can be destructive or constructive," Allen said. "If we (issue)
a vote of no confidence, we can also be willing to give these changes
he proposed time to take effect. ...

"If they don't occur, we will proceed with further action ... like
approach the state FOP, approach the Attorney General's office.

"The goal of both parties after this meeting is how to best serve the
public. ... I see willingness from Crockett's office to work with us.
. "If we can turn this into better communication with the
prosecutor's office and better prosecution of cases, then everybody

In addition to the police and judge's concerns with Crockett's office,
a special prosecutor, Commonwealth Attorney George Moore of Montgomery
County has been named to review the Kentucky State Police
investigation of the office in connection with cash-for-reduced-charges
offers improperly extended by the Ludlow police.

Moore, appointed by the attorney general's office to look into the
Ludlow matter and any other practices he deems necessary, could not be
reached for comment Tuesday. County offices were closed for the
inauguration of Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

After their meeting with Schonecker, Crockett and Allen met privately.
Crocket was asked to look into and explain five cases from the past
year or so. Crockett agreed to do so, but would not say what cases or

Crockett said he plans to change some procedures in the near future to
give police more input into their cases, but will require more work
from them.

Crockett also said he doesn't expect Tuesday's meeting to change the
FOP's plan tonight.

He said doesn't bother him because he doesn't believe a majority of
police would agree with the FOP. He noted there are 17 police
departments in Kenton County he must deal with, and he's not going to
make everyone happy.

"I'm not going up there unless I am asked to explain things. I will
address them about an issue if there's any issue they want to talk
about. But they're going to do what they're going to do. There's a
whole lot more respect for me in the system than you would think from
what's out there."
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin