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HPD Chief Sumner talks local violent crime statistics
  • Updated

Hopkinsville Police Chief Clayton Sumner recently took to Facebook to ask for the community’s help in making Hopkinsville safer and briefly shared local and national crime statistics over the last several years.

Nationally, violent crime data has revealed a steady increase from year to year, while non-violent crimes, such as thefts and property crimes, are trending down. Sumner shared on Facebook and with the New Era that HPD is seeing the same trends locally.

Sumner wrote on Facebook that murders in the U.S. increased over 30% between 2019 and 2020, which is the highest single-year increase in over a century. Kentucky alone saw a 61% increase, he added.

In Hopkinsville, from 2015 until now, the city has experienced 23 murders, according to the chief.

Sumner also shared that the number of murders that have occurred this year has already surpassed the total number for 2020.

He estimated that there were roughly four murders that occurred last year, while this year Hopkinsville has experienced at least six.

For violent crimes as a whole, Sumner shared that those crimes increased a total of 22% from 2019 to 2020. In 2019, Hopkinsville saw 88 violent crimes, while in 2020, the number jumped up to 108.

Violent crimes, according to HPD, are crimes that involve physical harm or threat of harm, such as assaults, murder, arson and rape. Non-violent crimes consist of offenses that are usually property or cyber-related, such as thefts, burglary, theft of identity, credit card fraud, etc.

Sumner shared statistics with the New Era regarding Hopkinsville’s violent crimes over the last several years.

In 2017, there were 90 violent crimes reported. In 2018, that number increased to 97. For 2019, there were 88 and again, in 2019, the number increased to 108.

Those trends reflect a relatively steady increase of violent crimes, which Sumner noted is most likely largely due to the recent increase of murders specifically. Those trends are also reflected nationally, Sumner emphasized.

Sumner expects the number of violent crimes to increase another roughly 20% for 2021, once the year ends and the department collects the total data for the year.

Sumner says that while that prediction as well as the trends the city and the nation has seen are unfortunate, he is not surprised by it.

“It saddens me, but I don’t know that it shocks me necessarily that we’re seeing some of those issues here when it’s happening across the country,” Sumner said.

The chief acknowledged that he does not know exactly why violent crimes have been trending this way over the last several years, but he surmised that there are several areas that may be affecting those statistics, such as police department staffing shortages, the justice system and poverty.

Sumner explained that one of the things that police can do to try and prevent crimes from occurring is by using “saturated patrolling,” which involves using a higher number of officers to patrol an area that has statistically seen a higher rate of crime than in other areas within the city.

However, due to staffing shortages, many departments, including HPD, simply don’t have the manpower to implement such a practice and make sure the rest of the city is adequately protected and patrolled.

“It makes it hard to do those saturated patrols when you don’t have a lot to be saturated with,” Sumner said.

At the same time, Sumner shared that the department has to make sure not to over-police in those areas as well as.

“You have to understand that once you start going into certain neighborhoods, from a policing aspect, you have to be careful not to be over-policing and there has to be a fine line there,” Sumner said.

However, Sumner said that this is one reason Hopkinsville recently approved the purchase of 10 Flock Camera System safety cameras to be installed throughout the city. He said those cameras will not prevent crimes, but will help the department solve crimes if a crime is committed within view of those cameras.

Sumner explained that while he would like to get more officers in the department and on the street, departments across the country are struggling to hire new officers and retain them, which leads many of those departments, including HPD, to be undermanned.

The other two areas Sumner mentioned that may be affecting the increase of violent crime statistics are areas that HPD has even less ability to change — the justice system and poverty.

Sumner shared that he believes the justice system may be giving some individuals, especially those with a pattern of criminal history that leads to or shows violence, too many second chances and allowing them out of custody and back onto the streets.

“Our justice system is just designed for certain things — you just get out of jail sometimes,” Sumner said before giving an example of an offender who has had several firearm-related charges, such as firearm possession and fire-arm theft.

“Not that those are the worst crimes ever, but those should be warning signs. Somewhere in the system that should be a warning sign that we had kids (or people) stealing or possessing firearms and that should be some kind of red flag of if we as a whole — and policing has very little to do with this — we better figure out a good way to intervene in this person’s life or something like a (shooting) is going to end up happening.”

Sumner shared that he does not blame judges for allowing individuals out of jail as judges also have their own guidelines and laws to follow. He continued to state that he does not know the answer of how the system can change and successfully intervene in the life of someone such as the example he gave.

Sumner continued to share that he believes a lot of crimes are driven by poverty. He pointed out that wealthier areas in Hopkinsville rarely see reports of violent crime and instead, those crimes tend to be saturated in low-income, poverty-stricken areas.

“If crime is running amok and there’s such an increase across the country, why isn’t violent crime happening in (wealthy) areas,” Sumner said. “It’s not because of race, it’s because of poverty and the police can’t fix poverty.”

Despite those areas that may be affecting the increase of violent crime statistics are hard for police to change themselves, Sumner continues to emphasize and requests the help of the community.

Sumner shared that if the community comes together to tackle an issue such as violent crimes, everyone has a better chance of successfully battling that issue.

“I do know that as a community and as a country as a whole that we are very intelligent together and it’s going to take everybody doing what they’re specialised in to come up with ways to fix these problems across the country and Hopkinsville,” Sumner said. “Policing only has one little piece of that and there’s only so much we can do.”

With that said, Sumner continues to ask for Hopkinsville’s help to try and make the city a safer place to live.

Alpha Pregnancy Care Center receives donation
  • Updated

A Knights of Columbus group gave a generous donation to a local pregnancy center this week after a successful bluegrass music festival.

Jeff Smith, who is the Financial Secretary for the Knights of Columbus Blessed Trinity Council, and his wife, Laura, host an annual fundraising one-day music fest that entails raising money for three pregnancy care centers in the Western Kentucky region.

In the beginning of 2014, this one-day festival in the heart of Lake Beshear began was a planted seed in the hopes of growing each harvest. The annual event is known as “Bluegrass on Lake Beshear — Pickin’ Life.” It’s hosted every year on the Saturday of Columbus Day weekend since 2014. Though still able to raise money last year, the duo was unable to hold the live event due to COVID-19.

The Catholic organization has been deeply involved in “Bluegrass on Lake Beshear — Pickin’ Life” festival since its beginning. The council also provides the manpower to help out in more ways than one whether that may be parking cars and escorting attendees, to providing and serving meals during the yearly festival.

In 2014, the first year of the Bluegrass Lake Beshear festival — a total of $2,500 dollars was raised which ended up winning the Kentucky State Council’s Culture of Life Award. The relationships made with the regional pregnancy care centers led to their council to win the KofC International Culture of Life Award in 2017. As the years pass, the support continues to multiply. The Hopkinsville Knights of Columbus Council and Christian County Right to Life are loyal supporters. This past year Jeff and Laura were able to raise a whopping $33,495. In the eight years that the couple has founded the organization Bluegrass on Lake Beshear — Pickin’ Life, the organization has raised more than $114,000 dollars. Every year, all proceeds received is distributed equally to three pregnancy care centers in Western Kentucky region. The three centers are Alpha PCC in Hopkinsville, Door of Hope in Madisonville and H.O.P.E. Clinic in Benton and Eddyville. All proceeds are split equally had given as a check to progress each facility.

“To think that this year with all of our sponsors and supporters and realizing we were able to raise over 30,000 dollars this year, just leaves me speechless. It’s amazing the amount of support we have had, said Laura. “We will continue the tradition in hopes of reaching new heights”

This past week, Alpha PCC in Hopkinsville was gifted a check from the Bluegrass on Lake Beshear — Pickin’ Life board. Laura expressed how delighted the staff of Alpha Pregnancy Care Center was to receive the donation. “Being able to give a donation to three centers warms my husband and I hearts. Each facility is fantastic,” Laura said. “All three are Christian based, who all provide excellent services to mothers in waiting.”

Alpha Pregnancy Care Center educates, supports and empowers women facing unplanned pregnancies with compassionate and professional medical care. All services provided are free with a plethora of services such as parenting classes, ultra sounds, healing sessions, and even adoption support after giving birth. The staff of Alpha consist of nurses, counselors, volunteers as well as many other full time employees.

While the founders continue to grow the magnitude of Bluegrass on Lake Beshear, the couple is in the works of starting a sector in another location near Dawson Springs. The couple is excited for all the future entails. To stay in the loop visit website: http://www.bluegrassonbeshear.com/

Third Republican files for Judge Executive
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There will now be three people in the Republican primary for Christian County Judge-Executive after registered nurse Dan Mason filed to run this week for the county’s top office.

Mason turned in his paperwork on Wednesday — one day after Republican Jerry Gilliam, who is currently serving as a Christian County Magistrate, and two days after Republican Katie Moyer did so.

On his campaign website, Mason says, “I offer not a long political resume, but I have a life-long education overcoming challenges, enduring struggle, extending a hand to those slapped by the back hand of life and finding new ways to fix old problems.”

Sitting Christian County Judge-Executive Steve Tribble, a Democrat, has also announced he plans to run for reelection for another term, but has not yet filed.

Friday also saw two candidates file paperwork. Republican Russ Guffey filed to run for District 7 Magistrate. He will be in a May primary against Mike Walker, who filed his paperwork last week.

And Democrat Walter G. Cummings became the first person from his party to file for Christian County Clerk. As of now, only one other person has signed up to run for that office — Republican Erica Newby.

Other candidates who had previously registered to run for office during the 2022 election cycle included

  • Republican Vince Farrell, Hopkinsville Mayor
  • Republican James R. Knight, Hopkinsville Mayor
  • Democrat Michael Pendleton, Hopkinsville Mayor
  • Republican Tyler DeArmond, Christian County Sheriff
  • Republican Erica Newby, Christian County Clerk
  • Republican Adam Smith, Christian County Jailer
  • Republican Scott Daniel, Christian County Coroner
  • Democrat Mark Wells, Magistrate District 2
  • Democrat Mark E. Cansler, Magistrate District 3
  • Republican George Barnett, Magistrate District 3
  • Republican Darrell L. Gustafson, Magistrate District 4
  • Democrat Rich Leibe, Magistrate District 5
  • Republican Phillip Peterson, Magistrate District 6
  • Republican Mike Walker, Magistrate District 7
  • Republican Chuck Crabtree, Hopkinsville City Council Ward 4
  • Republican Travis W. Martin, Hopkinsville City Council Ward 6
  • Republican Mark A. Graham, Hopkinsville City Council Ward 7
  • Republican Jamie Lynn Lienberger, Hopkinsville City Council Ward 9

Republican Steve Keel,

  • Hopkinsville City Council Ward 10
  • Republican Mark O. “Bubba” Haddock, Constable District 8.

The deadline for filing for partisan races that may require a primary is Jan. 7, 2022, at 4 p.m. the non-partisan filing deadline is June 7, 2022, at 4 p.m.

The primary election will be held on May 17, 2022 and the general election will be held on Nov. 8, 2022.

In addition to local offices, Justice Shea Nickell has filed to run for re-election as the First Appellate District’s representative on the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Justice Nickell was elected to the Commonwealth’s highest court in November 2019 to complete the unexpired term of retired Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham, defeating his opponent with roughly sixty% of votes cast. If re-elected next November, he will serve a full eight-year term.

Justice Nickell was previously elected to serve as a judge on the Kentucky Court of Appeals in November 2006, again defeating his opponent with roughly sixty% of votes cast. He was unopposed for that position when re-elected in November 2014, and later served as the court’s Chief Judge pro tem.

All judicial elections are nonpartisan. The First Appellate Judicial District includes the twenty-four counties of Allen, Ballard, Butler, Caldwell, Calloway, Carlisle, Christian, Crittenden, Edmonson, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Hopkins, Livingston, Logan, Lyon, Marshall, McCracken, McLean, Muhlenberg, Simpson, Todd, Trigg, and Webster.

CCHD reports one new COVID-19 death
  • Updated

The Christian County Health Department announced one new COVID-19-related death this week as the rate of new cases remains steady.

The single new death is reported to be a 67-year-old Caucasian male, unvaccinated, with underlying health conditions.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of those we have lost,” the health department said.

According to the CCHD, the total cases for the county have moved to 10,790 as of Friday.

The county has seen an increase of cases by 72 since last week, on Nov. 5.. The previous week saw an increase of 74 between Nov. 5 and Oct. 29. While the week prior saw an increase of 72 between Oct. 22 and Oct. 29, revealing a constant rate of between 70 — 75 new cases each week for the last several weeks.

Of the 10,790 total cases, 170 of them are currently active cases, up from 124 since last week. Meanwhile, 10,484 cases have recovered from the virus.

Within the currently active cases, 43 are people aged zero to 21, 82 are between 22 and 59 and 15 are 60 to 84. There are currently 30 active cases for ages 85 and older as of this week, revealing a large increase for that age group after there were only four active cases last week.

Of the 72 new cases this week, 5, or 7%, are considered breakthrough cases. Breakthrough cases mean that individuals who have been vaccinated have tested positive for the coronavirus. Last week breakthrough cases consisted of 13% of active cases.

The demographic breakdown of the new cases contracted this week is as follows: 19, or 26%, are pediatric cases, while 38 (53%) of the new cases are white, 21 (29%) are Black and 13 (18%) are unknown.

This week the health department did give updated data on the number of vaccinations administered this week compared to last.

CCHD has administered 14,850 first doses of the Moderna vaccine, 13,732 second doses of Moderna, 248 third doses and 1,163 Moderna booster shots.

As for Pfizer, the department has given 344 first doses, 359 second doses, 105 third doses and five Pfizer booster shots.

Finally, for Johnson and Johnson, CCHD has administered 986 doses and 16 Johnson and Johnson booster shots.

Jennie Stuart Health also provided updated stats on COVID-19-related hospitalizations.

According to JSH, there were 236 total individuals that were hospitalized due to the coronavirus between Aug. 1 and Nov. 4. Of those 236 people, 217 were unvaccinated while 19 were fully vaccinated.

Within those 236, a total of 41 individuals had been in the intensive care unit (ICU). Of those 41, 39 were unvaccinated while only two were fully vaccinated. Even further, of those 41, in the ICU, 30 individuals had been on ventilators. Of those 30, 29 were unvaccinated and only one person was fully vaccinated.

The health department announced Tuesday that it will now begin administering Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to children beginning next week.

CCHD will be offering Pfizer vaccines to children aged between 5 — 11, beginning on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

The department will be accepting both walk-ins and appointments for Pfizer COVID vaccines for children every Wednesday from 7:45 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.

While walk-ins are available, CCHD encourages parents to schedule appointments in order to avoid long wait times at the department.

To schedule an appointment online, go to http://ow.ly/vLBJ50GJvB0.

The health department will continue to offer COVID vaccines, including Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson, to anyone aged 12 and up on Tuesday and Thursdays from 7:45 a.m to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.

CCHD clarified that it will not be accepting walk-ins or appointments for anyone under the age of 12 on Tuesdays or Thursdays. The department will be offering vaccines to anyone between 5 and 11 on Wednesdays only.

CCHD also shared an update of who can receive their vaccine booster shots.

According to the health department, Moderna and Pfizer booster doses are now available six months after the completion of the initial vaccine series to the following individuals:

  • 65 years or older
  • 18-64 years of age who reside in long-term care settings
  • 18-64 years of age with certain underlying health conditions
  • 18-64 who live or work in high-risk settings

Janssen, more commonly known as Johnson & Johnson, booster doses are available to individuals aged 18 and up 2 months after the completion of the initial series.

CCHD added that while the department prefers individuals to receive a booster from the same product as their initially completed vaccine series, if that product is not available or another product is preferred, boosting with a single dose of any authorized COVID-19 vaccine boosters is acceptable.

In other words, you can now mix vaccine products. So, if an individual completed their initial series with Moderna, that individual may now receive a Pfizer shot if preferred or Moderna is out of stock.

CCHD reiterated what medical conditions are considered underlying health conditions that put individuals at increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection. Those include:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic lung disease (including COPD, asthma, interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension
  • Dementia or other neurological conditions
  • Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
  • Down syndrome
  • Heat conditions
  • HIV infection
  • Immunocompromised state
  • Liver disease
  • Overweight or obese
  • Pregnancy or recently pregnant people
  • Sickle cell disease of thalassemia
  • Smoking, current or former
  • Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
  • Stroke or cerebrovascular disease
  • Substance abuse disorders

The health department will continue hosting drive thru testing at the health department Monday through Thursday from 7:45 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

As previously reported by the New Era, CCHD believes the majority of the new cases are due to the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

CCHD recommends that everyone follow the COVID safety precautions that were implemented previously when the county was in red.

Those include frequent hand washing, avoiding large social gatherings, especially among people who have not been vaccinated and wearing a mask for additional protection, especially indoors.