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By LORRIE KINKADE
The Trimble Banner
Traffic fatalities have been drastically reduced and drug seizures are on the increase in the district covered by the Kentucky State Police Post 5.
Capt. Dean Hayes, commander of the post in Campbellsburg, says much of the credit for the improved statistics should go to troopers Rick Ellis and Dennis Hedger.
Together, Ellis and Hedger make up the new “criminal patrol” team primarily assigned to the Interstate-71 corridor from Gallatin County to Oldham County.
“This is a program I initiated when I got here,” Hayes, a veteran KSP officer who joined Post 5 in April, said. “We are already seeing definite results.”
Hayes said the Post 5 area has seen only 10 fatal accidents this year compared to the 30 fatalities logged in 2007.
“We’re out there all hours of the day. We have a presence on the highway,” he said. “That may control some of the traffic issues typical of the highway.”
Hayes said the interstate is seen as a nexus to large quanities of drugs and believes heavy enforcement of traffic laws is the route to stopping some of the illegal trafficking.
“We have a better chance of finding drugs and criminals by stopping a lot of cars,” Hayes said. “With two men assigned primarily to that, we have a better opportunity to make a difference.”
Ellis said he has logged an average of 3,500 miles per month traveling I-71.
“I love what I do. I want to take the drugs off the street and confiscate the money used to buy and sell,” he said. “I think I help make a difference out here.”
Ellis said he hears the typical excuses by people stopped for violation of the speed limit, but treats everyone the same.
“They are cited and may dispute it in court. My job is to enforce the traffic laws,” he said. “If there are several cars together and I’m not sure which one was caught [on radar], I don’t pull it over. If I stop a car it is because I truly believe they were violating the law.”
“It is not worth my name and reputation to mess up,” he continued. “It took me 24 weeks of hard training to get this grey uniform and I won’t give it up that easy.”
“I’ve got two of the hardest working guys in the state police out there. They are making a difference for us all,” Hayes said.
Soon, Hayes anticipates adding a third trooper to the Interstate-71 patrol team, further increasing the chances that criminals thinking of running drugs through the area covered by KSP Post 5 will reconsider their decision.