Lawmakers look to find ways to better protect state troopers after Ponder tragedy

09/22/2015 04:11 PM

FRANKFORT – The Father of slain Kentucky State Police trooper Cameron Ponder said that if his sons cruiser had special bullet resistant windows, he could possibly still be alive.

Joseph Ponder made the statement on Tuesday in Frankfort as House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, announced that he has requested that Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer come up with recommendations of how to make front line troopers safer out in the field.

Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder was shot and killed while in his cruiser on Sept. 13 after a traffic stop on Interstate 24 near Eddyville.

Ponder was shot by Joseph Johnson-Shanks, who was later shot and killed by another state trooper after allegedly ignoring orders to drop his weapon.

“A bullet-proof windshield would have saved my sons life,” Ponder said. “Today we are addressing an issue that can save the lives of our law enforcement men and women that defend and protect us every day. Please help us honor their lives and those who follow in their path by supporting this bill to equip police cruisers with bullet-proof windshields.”

Stumbo said that he knows that there are resources out there, like the bullet-proof windshields that can potentially save lives and feels that it’s an obligation of the General Assembly to provide law enforcement with the additional tools to be safe.

“There are products available that could be utilized at a cost I believe that we can afford,” Stumbo said. “I don’t believe that we can, no matter what the cost, afford to turn our backs on this issue.”

Stumbo says that he hopes whatever the state police find as an additional protective
tools, would be implemented by other law enforcement agencies across Kentucky.

As for the costs of the bullet-proof windshields for some 600 KSP front line cruisers, Stumbo believes that it could be in the neighborhood of $3 million.

“You know, 600 cars, that’s $3 million,” Stumbo said. “I don’t think that that’s an unreasonable amount to look at. Even if it were double that, $10,000 a car, I don’t think that’s too unreasonable a cost to look at.”

Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer believes that the bullet-proof windshields could potentially protect troopers, but admits that there are a lot of factors to study.

“There’s so many varieties of those laminates that are out there on the market that can stop ballistic rounds up to a certain level and I’m not certain what that individual had as far as the round,” Brewer said. “It was a 9 millimeter but obviously some of these are varied in strength. But, it could certainly target harden for our troopers on the road.”

Brewer said that Trooper Ponder was killed by a bullet, which he described as “a one-in 10,000 shot,” which entered from the side, where his bullet-proof vest offered no protection.

In light of that, Brewer said that he wants to look at a variety of options out there of equipment which could save officers lives including bullet-proof windshields and better vests.

“I think what Speaker Stumbo wants from us is not just a report on bullet-proof laminate type glass,” Brewer said. “I think he’s interested in all safety standards.
What can we improve? What can we build upon?”

Stumbo was joined at the press conference by House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook; Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown; and Rep. Will Coursey, D-Symsonia.

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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