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KSP sergeant alleges retaliation after questioning trip that cost thousands in grant money

Vicki Day for web.jpg
Posted at 6:00 PM, Jun 08, 2023

A Kentucky State Police sergeant has filed a lawsuit against the agency alleging that she was retaliated against after she brought forward questions about a grant-funded trip eight employees took to El Paso, Texas.

The trip cost more than $18,000 and was funded by the 2021 Law Enforcement Harm Reduction & Education Grant, according to records obtained by LEX 18. The grant aims at combating drug addiction through methods like education and drug interdiction, or seizing drugs being transported into the state.

Sgt. Vicki Day raised questions about the legitimacy of the trip, and was then subjected to disciplinary action, according to the lawsuit. Her attorney, Thomas Clay, said she questioned whether training occurred on the trip, which reportedly included a visit to the El Paso Intelligence Center, also known as EPIC, and the border wall.

“There are efforts within the command of KSP to get rid of her, make her resign, to make her life so miserable that she doesn't want to put up with it anymore,” Clay said.

In an answer filed in Day’s civil case, Kentucky State Police and the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet denied the allegations outlined in the lawsuit.

The Justice and Public Safety Cabinet has said that there was training on the trip. The cabinet shared an email from a DEA spokeswoman that said the center does offer training for other agencies, and that “I understand KSP took part in in June of 2022.”

The email did not give specifics on what training KSP took part in, or how long the training lasted.

“EPIC stores all license plate reader information as it is extremely confidential in nature,” KSP Lt. Col. Michael Rogers said in a statement. “KSP relies on EPIC for their assistance in this storage and how best to utilize the technology to reduce drug trafficking (particularly regarding fentanyl), human trafficking, kidnapping and serial criminal offenders. KSP’s trip to EPIC was valuable to our agency’s continued success with criminal investigations.”

In a 2022 memorandum seeking approval of the trip, Rogers wrote that the purpose of the trip was for the eight in attendance, four sworn personnel and four civilians, to attend “training sessions” at EPIC.

LEX 18 requested records of the trip, including expense documents, event itineraries and program documents. The agency provided the expense records and the memo requesting approval for the trip, but documentation of events or training programs was not included.

“It was a boondoggle,” attorney Thomas Clay said. “I don't think there was any training involved, I think it was approved improperly and I think there were misrepresentations made about what the purpose of the trip was.”

But the justice cabinet gave a different reason for why records of the training weren’t released.

“Law enforcement training, particularly conducted by federal partners, oftentimes is not subject to public review as it could provide proprietary information to those who wish to cause harm to the public and officers,” a justice cabinet spokeswoman said in an email.

Day’s lawsuit also accuses KSP of sex discrimination, alleging that she has been forbidden by the agency to speak with Captain Jennifer Sandlin. Sandlin, a post commander, recently filed her own lawsuit against KSP alleging sex discrimination. Day’s lawsuit states that Day is protected from being retaliated against for supporting Sandlin in her lawsuit.

Both Day’s and Sandlin’s lawsuits against the agency are still pending.