Sunday, September 09, 2001

Kenton Co. gets a top cop

Corrections officer plans training

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Kenton County has hired Jefferson County's top corrections training officer as it moves toward building an expanded jail.

        Maj. Scott Colvin is taking the first steps toward making the Kenton County Detention Center only the third jail in the state to have a regional training center for corrections officers.

        A native of Louisville, Maj. Colvin has been in the corrections end of law enforcement since 1988, shortly after completing eight years in the Marine Corps, including several years as a drill instructor at Parris Island, S.C., and a technical instructor at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

        Now he's putting more than 12 years of corrections experience and training expertise at the Jefferson County jail to work for Kenton County.

        “I started the field officers training program at Jefferson County, and I want to do the same thing here,” the 39-year-old corrections officer said. “My function here (Kenton County) is as a compliance officer, to evaluate the department, determine what needs to be changed or upgraded, and make it happen.”

        He was hired by Kenton County Jailer Terry Carl as part of a campaign promise Mr. Carl made to voters before the last election, to make changes in the jail and provide better training for jail staff.

        Maj. Colvin said he met Mr. Carl and Chief Deputy Jailer Rodney Ballard at a corrections seminar last year, and eventually discussed the Kenton County training position with the jailer.

        “He told me he was very serious about having a training officer and a training program,” Maj. Colvin said. “When the (Kenton County) Fiscal Court approved hazardous duty retirement benefits for corrections officers, the same as those for police, I was ready to make the move. It also meant a pay increase and raise in rank from captain to major.

        “When I've finished evaluating the department, I'll establish a training academy for Northern Kentucky corrections officers,” Maj. Colvin said. “We want to provide our (corrections) deputies with every tool necessary to properly perform their job.”

        The other two corrections officers training facilities in the state are at Jefferson County and Fayette County (Lexington).

        In more than 12 years at Jefferson County, where the jail has an average daily population of about 2,000 prisoners, Maj. Colvin moved from a corrections officer to commander of training.

        In that capacity, he was called to testify in the trail of a corrections officers charged with murder in the beating death of inmate Adrian Reynolds in 1998 at the Jefferson County jail.

        “As the training officer, I was called as a witness to explain the training procedures and policies for corrections officers,” Maj. Colvin recalled. “Basically, right is right and wrong is wrong. That's all I could say.”

        Corrections Officer Timothy Barnes faces a second trial, scheduled for Jan. 28, because his first trial ended in a hung jury in the fall of 2000. Mr. Reynolds sustained injuries to the head and neck when Officer Barnes allegedly stood on him to control him.

        Mr. Ballard, a retired Kentucky State Police detective, said Kenton County was “extremely fortunate to get someone with Scott Colvin's credentials. He'll be a tremendous asset to the jail and the community.”

        Maj. Lee Karsner, Maj. Colvin's supervisor at Jefferson County, said Maj. Colvin “was a big asset to the department. He's very intelligent and has a lot to offer Kenton County. We miss him.”

        Maj. Colvin said he recognizes that the Kenton County jail operations faces significant challenge in the coming months, including the need for a new jail facility which has turned into a political hot potato.

        “But the training is a real necessity,” he said. “It always amazes me that rookie police officers, with 15 to 20 weeks of intense training, make an arrest and bring a suspect to the jail where they are to be cared for 24 hours a day by officers with very little training.

        “I realize every day when I go to work that there is an element of danger at the jail, at any jail,” he continued. “We are in close proximity with hundreds of potentially dangerous people for at least eight hours at a time. There's always that feeling of being on the edge. We want to be respected like any other law enforcement officer, but to do that we must have the proper training.”


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