Audit reveals questionable practices related to KLEFPF funds

09/29/2016 06:11 PM

FRANKFORT — State Auditor Mike Harmon says that his audit of the Department of Criminal Justice Training and the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund released Thursday shows excessive and unnecessary spending of funds as well as questionable contracts with Eastern Kentucky University that circumvented state law.

KLEFPF was established by law in 1972 to strengthen law enforcement across Kentucky by attracting and retaining competent, highly qualified people to the field for the purpose of providing maximum protection and safety to the commonwealth.

Harmon, who announced the audit’s findings on Thursday, says that his agency found multiple management issues at the Department of Criminal Justice Training and questionable spending of KLEFPF dollars.

KLEFPF is funded through a 1.8 percent surcharge on property and casualty insurance policies issued in Kentucky, which are supposed to pay for training and incentive payments for law enforcement officers.

One of Harmon’s findings showed that while the surcharge on insurance policies rose from 1.5 percent to 1.8 percent in 2010, there was no increase in the incentive pay to law enforcement officers.

“In spite of that, there was no change in incentive payments until the 2016 legislative session,” Harmon said. “We also found no analysis or documentation to support the need for maintaining the 1.8 percent surcharge to cover necessary KLEFPF expenses.”

Harmon also highlighted the utilization of a $1.6 million personnel contract with EKU which, he says, allowed the Department of Criminal Justice to sidestep state procurement laws and regulations.

“This personnel contract allowed DOCJT employees, hired through EKU, to be paid higher salary and benefits than state employees in similar positions,” Harmon said.

Harmon also expressed concerns about the use of a contract between DOCJT and EKU that allowed the department to sidestep state procurement laws and regulations in making purchases.

“We discovered that DOCJT was utilizing contracts with EKU that allowed them to circumvent a variety of state procurement and employment laws,” Harmon said. “Both contracts state they are needed for exigent circumstances, but in practice, the contracts were clearly used for routine purchases and regular employees.”

Other findings included excessive spending of more than $500,000 per year on staff to publish the departments quarterly magazine, expenditures for items not permitted by state policies and unrelated to the mission of KLEFPF, excessive travel costs and confusion on ownership and maintenance responsibilities of the Department of Criminal Justice Training buildings on EKU’s campus due to a lack of any written lease agreement between the department and the university.

Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley, who along with Rep. Denny Butler, R-Louisville, requested the audit, expressed that he was deeply frustrated and disappointed with the prior leadership of DOCJ and warned that the culture of mismanagement and misconduct is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated under his watch.

Tilley outlined several changes which he has instituted, including hiring procedures.

DOCJT is working with EKU to review its hiring agreement and begin moving employees into the state merit system,” Tilley said. “Included in this effort is an overhaul of the hiring process to ensure integrity and transparency.”

Butler, who has mentioned the DOCJT spending practices and the lack of response from the previous administration when he continuously requested an audit of the spending practices as key reasons that he switched party affiliation, said that he felt vindicated with the results of the audit.

“The money, for the first time in 15 years, is going for what it is meant for,” Butler said. “If we’re collecting money on the backs of policemen and raising that tax and they don’t get an incentive from it, it looks like we’re balancing the budget on the backs of policemen and we’re not supporting our law enforcement when we say we do.”

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, issued a statement applauding Butler for pressing for an investigation as well as calling out members of Butler’s former party.

“On the heels of our continued fight with opposition within Democrat leadership, it’s my hope that Rep. Butler’s leadership on this issue will transcend to other branches of government and bring much-needed transparency,” Hoover said.

“Kentuckians deserve to know how every element of their government functions, and they deserve leadership that demands accountability across the board.”

About Don Weber

Don Weber joined cn|2 when it launched back in May 2010 and soon became a reporter for Pure Politics. He is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University and has spent many years covering everything from politics to sports. Don says he loves meeting new people everyday as part of his job and also enjoys the fact that no two days are the same when he comes to work. Don Weber can be reached at donald.weber@charter.com.

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