- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:


May 4

Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader on stopping crumb rubber use on playgrounds:

Schools, child-care providers, parks and playgrounds should follow the Kentucky environmental agency’s lead and hold off on building new crumb rubber surfaces until more is known about their health effects.

Recycling scrap tires is an alternative to filling up landfills or illegally dumping tires that fill with water and become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

But, as Kentucky decided earlier this year, “out of an abundance of caution,” it’s safer to recycle old tires into asphalt and other uses that don’t come into direct contact with kids until science provides more reassuring answers.

Too many doubts have been raised about potential harm from crumb rubber, which is made by grinding material from old tires into granules that serve as filler in playgrounds and artificial turf sports fields around the country.

Herald-Leader reporter Mark Maloney on Sunday chronicled Kentucky soccer player McKenzie Hicks, whose history with cancer mirrors that of others.

NBC reported last year that a University of Washington coach grew concerned after several young soccer players were diagnosed with cancer. She compiled a list of 38 American soccer players who have been diagnosed with cancer, usually blood cancers such as lymphoma. Of those, 34 were goalkeepers who are on the turf more than other players because they repeatedly dive to block shots.

Hicks, who will graduate from Morehead State University this month, was twice diagnosed with lymphoma while in college and recovered, most recently after a bone marrow transplant from her twin sister Molly, who did not play soccer and has not had cancer.

Crumb rubber began being used in artificial turf in the 1990s. All of Lexington’s public high schools and Lexington Catholic have artificial turf fields. All have crumb rubber except Lafayette, where finely granulated sand serves as filler.

It’s also popular on playgrounds for young children.

No studies have linked crumb rubber and cancer. We do know that tire crumbs contain varying concentrations of carcinogens and neurotoxins, including benzene, arsenic and lead.

In January, Kentucky’s Division of Waste Management announced that it would no longer make grants from its crumb-rubber program for playgrounds, school yards and athletic fields.

Instead the division is redirecting up to $800,000 into landscaping, assisting local governments retrieve tire piles and a pilot program to incorporate crumb rubber in road maintenance.

Tire buyers in Kentucky pay a fee that helps dispose of 4 million tires a year.

Citing national and local concerns, Energy and Environment Secretary Len Peters said that redirecting the grants was “the prudent step to take while more studies are conducted to determine with a greater degree of certainty if the materials used to supplement play areas and athletic fields could be considered harmful, especially to our school children.”

While there may not be enough evidence to justify replacing crumb rubber sports fields and playgrounds, it makes sense not to build any new ones until the science catches up with the questions.




May 6

Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Baltimore’s prosecutor:

A prosecutor has many roles, but one of the most important roles when looking into a case, especially a murder case, is you take your time gathering all the facts, talk to all witnesses and then without pressure from outside influences decide if there is enough evidence to press charges against an individual or individuals.

Most prosecutors across this country follow this investigative work to the letter, but there are some who rush to judgment in returning charges.

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby is one who we believe rushed to judgment in returning charges against six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, who died April 19.

On May 1, after days of destructive activity by lawless thugs in her city, as distinguished from peaceful protesters, where businesses and homes were burned to the ground, Mosby made a political speech on the steps of Baltimore City Hall about the charges of the officers.

In her speech she told the cheering crowd that she will get justice for Gray.

Did Mrs. Mosby not learn in law school that all those who are charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty?

Judging from her speech it certainly makes one wonder.

Justice is supposed to be blind and the appropriate comment would be that justice would be served wherever the facts led.

It appears that Mosby’s rush to press charges against these officers was done in large part because of pressure she was feeling from the criminal element who were burning her city down. She was also likely feeling pressure from some of the city’s leader’s, including her husband, Nick Mosby, a city council member, who has been very vocal about this case in interviews that he has done.

These six officers deserve the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. To date, they have not received this. If they are found guilty, which some legal scholars say won’t happen because Mrs. Mosby has brought a weak case against them, then they deserve to go to prison. If they are not, as we learned in Ferguson, Mo., their lives will always be impacted because a young prosecutor with an agenda rushed to judgment.

It is possible if these six are not indicted or found not guilty, the city of Baltimore will once again go up in flames.

Legal scholar and respected defense attorney Alan Dershowitz summed up Mosby’s prosecution best when he said, “This is a show trial. Today had nothing to do with justice. Today was crowd control. Everything today was motivated by a threat of riots and a desire to prevent riots.”

Mrs. Mosby would’ve been wise to look at how the prosecutor in Ferguson handled the case there. Robert P. McCulloch took his time, didn’t cave to the rioting in the streets or statements by Gov. Jay Nixon about a “vigorous prosecution” after the Michael Brown shooting. He did his due diligence over the course of several months, not a few weeks, and took it before a grand jury, which concluded that the officer involved acted in self-defense.

McCulloch got it right.

It doesn’t appear that Mosby had adequate time to get all the statements regarding Gray’s death, interview the officers allegedly involved in his arrest, interview witnesses and go through all the other necessary steps before announcing charges against these officers.

A prosecutor should never cave to a lawless street mob or play politics with the lives of six people who could be innocent.

They should do what McCulloch did in Missouri and thousands of other prosecutors across the country and that is investigate thoroughly and not rush to judgment in announcing charges.

Should a grand jury return a no true bill or these officers be found guilty by a jury, Mosby’s overreach may well result in Baltimore burning once again.

We pray that we are wrong.




May 1

The Independent, Ashland, Kentucky, on the united effort of police:

As a candidate for Boyd County sheriff, Bobby Jack Woods, a retired Kentucky State Police trooper, made developing closer working relationships between the four law enforcement agencies in Boyd County a major campaign promise. After replacing now the retiring Terry Keelin, another retired KSP officer, as sheriff at the first of the year, Wood moved quickly to fulfill that promise. As a result, officers with the sheriff’s department, the Ashland and Catlettsburg police departments and the state police are more actively working together to solve or prevent crimes while maintaining order and tending to other duties and concerns.

“There are no boundaries here in Boyd County. We’re all Boyd Countians and we need to work together for the common good,” said Woods, who said he is pleased with initial efforts to work cooperatively with the Ashland and Catlettsburg police departments and KSP.

“We have all agreed there is more power in numbers. So far, I am very pleased with the cooperation,” the sheriff said, explaining combined efforts can benefit law enforcement through simple math alone. Working together, for example, the county could have five or six officers looking into drug cases instead of one or two working cases independently.

“Since I have taken office, I’ve extended my hand and so have the other agencies. For a while we met every two weeks with my drug people and Ashland’s drug people and Catlettsburg’s and a sergeant from the Kentucky State Police. We just got together and said, ‘This is what we’re working on.’ It didn’t matter if it was a drug case or a burglary.

“Information is the most valuable thing for solving crimes. When we share what we have with other agencies, then we develop trust and can exchange more information - which is the key to solving all crimes.”

Ashland Police Chief Rob Ratliff said he and the county’s new sheriff have known each other for a while, and his department also embraces the cooperative spirit.

“We meet on a regular basis. “‘We’ means the Ashland Police Department, the Boyd County Sheriff’s Department and the Catlettsburg Police Department. We all wanted to have one person as a point of contact for an unofficial task force,” Ratliff said. “It’s not just for Ashland’s issues or Catlettsburg’s issues or things out in the county. We’ve decided to all do what we can to solve those problems.”

“We’re a lot better working together than we are separate,” Ratliff said, adding the ongoing cooperative efforts could easily prevent an overlap of efforts, or even worse.

“We don’t want a good guys vs. good guys situation,” he said, explaining such a situation could happen relatively easy if each of the county’s law enforcement agencies stays to itself. Ashland, Catlettsburg and all of Boyd County are all well within the state of Kentucky, he noted, and while there is nothing that requires them to work together, “it’s just so much better when we do. It certainly can’t hurt and things are certainly working a lot better and smoother than they have in the past.”

Catlettsburg Police Chief Cameron Logan said he is encouraged by the sheriff’s initiative to renew communications, and notes Catlettsburg and Ashland police officers have already been working well together for the past 10 years or so. The small city faces its own set of priorities and problems, he said, with traffic concerns along U.S. 23 as well as bad guys from other places often leading the list.

“Every family is affected with somebody that is a user of drugs,” Logan said, noting drug activity tends to be the common ground between that city and neighboring areas. “Ninety-nine point nine percent of all thefts are drug related. We’ve got a real good idea of where it’s all going.”

The cooperative efforts have already had an impact on the local illegal drug-trafficking community. A Greenup County man was recently arrested following an undercover collaborative drug bust by the sheriff’s department and APD.

Since criminals pay little or no attention to city boundaries, county borders or state lines, crimes committed in Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio are often linked. A more united effort by police officers and prosecutors throughout the region can make law enforcement that much more effective.

We can remember a time when not only did area law enforcement agencies not work together but there was even jealousy, personality conflicts and petty disputes actually hampered law enforcement efforts in this region. For example, officials in Catlettsburg so disliked former Ashland Police Chief Ron McBride that the city refused to join the Regional Public Safety Communications Center until after McBride retired, even though Catlettsburg taxpayers were paying taxes on their phone bills to support the 911 dispatching. That made no sense to us, but it happened.

Under Keelin, the sheriff’s department became much more professional and took on a larger law enforcement role. That increased its respect among other law enforcement agencies and its effectiveness. Those improvements make it easier for Woods to strengthen the cooperation between law enforcement agencies. We are reminded of a quote that is so important in building stronger working relationships: “It is amazing how much more can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.”

That is so true. It is not about who gets the credit but about getting the job done. When the job is done well, everyone involved deserves the credit.



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