Commonwealth Journal

Local News

February 8, 2014

SPD sergeant demoted after DUI

Somerset — A local police sergeant has been demoted and is undergoing an unpaid 30-day suspension as he works toward resolving his DUI case.

Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler on Friday released a statement detailing administrative actions taken against Jason Griffith, 41, who is accused of driving under the influence while off-duty.

Griffith, of Somerset, who was arrested last fall, has been demoted from sergeant — a rank he’s held since 2005 — down to patrol officer, and he has been suspended for 30 days without pay.

“This action stems from recent personal events involving (Griffith),” said Girdler in his short statement.

Griffith was pulled over by Kentucky Fish & Wildlife Officer Lucas Tucker on Oct. 27, 2013  at the intersection of East Ky. 80 and Ky. 914 and charged with one count of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

According to the arrest citation, Tucker allegedly saw Griffith “driving at a high rate of speed on (Ky.) 80 ... crossing all lanes, going into the grass and shoulder on both sides of the road.”

Tucker also wrote in the citation that he smelled “a strong odor of (an) alcoholic beverage” on Griffith. Griffith was also allegedly swaying while standing outside the Ford F-150 he was driving when he was pulled over.

Tucker also reported that Griffith refused field sobriety tests and a Breathalyzer test.

As per Kentucky’s implied consent law, Griffith’s license was initially suspended, but Pulaski District Judge Scott Lawless in November 2013 opted to give Griffith his license back after evidence was introduced that suggested Tucker failed to read Griffith the implied consent warning during the arrest.

Under the state’s implied consent law, those driving a vehicle in Kentucky are deemed to have given their consent to sobriety tests. If tests are refused, that may be used against the defendant in court as aggravating evidence of committing a DUI — but that only holds true if the defendant is warned of the consequences that stem from such a refusal.

Now, prosecutors will be unable to use the implied consent law as aggravating evidence against Griffith in court.

Griffith’s attorney Scott Foster has said he also takes issue with whether Tucker had the authority to carry out the arrest.

Foster has said state statute limits the legal jurisdiction of Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officers, pointing out that KRS 150.090 limits conservation officers’ powers to that of enforcement of laws and regulations directly related to fish and wildlife jurisdiction.

But Foster said that section also states that a “life-threatening” situation — something he said is open to interpretation — may give a fish and wildlife officer the power to carry out something like a DUI arrest. Foster said the question is whether the Oct. 27 incident qualified as a “life-threatening” situation. But, in a long-standing precedent used by state authorities, the Kentucky State Police in the 1990s officially asked that Fish and Wildlife help the agency enforce all laws.  

Griffith has maintained his innocence since his October 2013 arrest.

Foster on Friday said they continue to deny the allegations — and he said he and Griffith opted to forego a hearing before Somerset City Council in accepting Girdler’s decision so they can focus on the court case.

“Now we’ll go fight the criminal case, knowing his job is secure,” said Foster. “We’ll be able to concentrate fully on (the criminal case).”

If Griffith had declined the city’s decision, he would have been afforded the hearing before city council.

“By Kentucky Statute, the mayor controls and supervises all departments and employees of the city, including police officers,” said attorney Charles Cole, who is retained by the city for legal issues. “Under certain circumstances, officers are afforded a hearing before the city council, however, those circumstances were not presented in the current situation involving Officer Griffith.”

Girdler, in his statement, thanked Griffith for his cooperation during the administrative process.

Foster said he and Griffith met with city officials to discuss what options lay ahead.

“We got with the city to discuss potential outcomes,” said Foster. “They (city officials) take this very seriously and they wanted to send a message and set a precedent.

“I think everybody’s pleased with it,” Foster added.

Griffith’s next court date is set for March 12.

“For us, it’s a relief to have the whole issue of his job over with,” said Foster. “He can concentrate on being a patrol officer, something he cares a great deal about.”

Foster said Griffith was grateful for the support he’s received from family and friends.

Griffith, who was initially suspended from his SPD duties with pay the week after his October 2013 arrest, began his 30-day unpaid suspension on Feb. 5. He is expected to return to work at SPD in early March as a patrol officer.

Text Only
Local News
  • Mayor Girdler.jpg Bill puts freeze on occupational tax funds

    An addition to the late-passed Kentucky Transportation Cabinet budget contains an Easter egg of sorts that could have a substantial impact on Pulaski County — although Somerset’s mayor is downplaying it.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brenzel and LCRH sign cmyk.jpg Brenzel steps down as LCRH CEO

    Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital (LCRH) has announced that CEO Mark Brenzel has decided to step down from the top leadership position.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Science Hill elementary students promote recycling

    For one group of Science Hill Independent students, taking out the trash isn’t something they avoid.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • carrie dixon-wiese.jpg Local housing facility subject of $349,000 lawsuit

    A local housing facility is the subject of a lawsuit in U.S. Eastern District Court, with several major entities named as defendants — though the Somerset city attorney notes that’s actually more for their protection.
    The defendants listed included the City of Somerset, Somerset Independent Board of Education, and Pulaski County government, as well as the company Somerset East Mt. Vernon Associates, Ltd.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Last rescue adopted pic.jpg Last of dogs rescued from Nancy kennel is adopted

    The last of 27 dogs housed at a Louisville animal rescue center after they were taken from a western Pulaski County puppy mill in a January raid has found a permanent home.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pulaski gets small share of road money

    Some $200 million worth of road-building projects in Pulaski County during the past decade likely is the reason this county got only a tiny share in the two-year road plan hammered out by the General Assembly during the session that adjourned late Tuesday.

    April 17, 2014

  • LaDonna Hurd.jpg Local firefighter dies from injuries suffered in fall at skating rink

    The community’s move to rally around a local volunteer firefighter, nurse, and single mother injured while roller skating has taken on a more tragic note.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • LAKE-FISHING FOTO.JPG Rising lake levels are improving area fishing conditions

    The rising level of Lake Cumberland is covering banks that have been bare for seven years and increasing habitat for game fish such as bass, bluegill and crappie.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ebenstein, Jacob.jpg Local man receives 12 1/2 years in DUI death of teen

    An entire courtroom on Thursday was moved to tears by parents who spoke of the loss of their 19-year-old son during a sentencing for the man who pleaded guilty in his death.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • City agencies dealing with gas leak

    From the Somerset Police Department:

    If you use East University Drive between KY 1247 and KY 39 or live in the area, your drive may be affected by a gas pipeline leak.


    April 17, 2014

News Live
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide