Despite claims, second Kentucky State Police slideshow suggests “ruthless” violence taught for years

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Satchel Walton and Cooper Walton

A second Kentucky State Police (KSP) training slideshow created in 2001 and last edited in 2011 contains Hitler quotes and promotes “ruthless” violence, suggesting earlier claims that this training was only used once in 2013 may not be true.

The revelation follows a RedEye story published Friday about the 2013 KSP slideshow that drew local and national attention.

RedEye obtained a second slideshow last modified in 2011 as part of the documents attorney David Ward received from KSP. RedEye reporters reviewed the documents after Beshear stated twice at his Monday media briefing that his investigation found that the previously reported slideshow was only used once by KSP in 2013. Beshear called it an “isolated incident,” and said that it was “absolutely and totally unacceptable.”

RedEye emailed the presentation to Crystal Staley, director of communications at the governor’s office, early Tuesday afternoon for comment.

Later, during his Tuesday media briefing, Beshear said that he knew of a second slideshow with similar information and from the same trainer, but did not elaborate or indicate if it was the same one RedEye emailed to his office.

“We are conducting a top to bottom review of training materials. We have identified at least one other PowerPoint that appears to contain some of the same information from the same trainer. We have not yet been able to determine whether it is a different version, whether it was provided at a different time,” Beshear said.

Sebastian Kitchen, a spokesperson for Governor Beshear, emailed a statement to RedEye reporters after Tuesday’s briefing: “As Gov. Beshear previously stated, it is absolutely unacceptable and we will be taking corrective action as we gather all the facts. While this training or trainings occurred years ago, we are conducting a top to bottom review of training led by Secretary of the Executive Cabinet J. Michael Brown to determine how widespread it was or was not, and to ensure something like this never occurs again.”

While both presentations are titled the “Warrior Mindset” and contain much of the same content, there are substantial differences in appearance with some textual differences. Both the 2011 and 2013 versions quote Robert E. Lee and Adolf Hitler, but the earlier version only has one Hitler quote, not three, and doesn’t have a slide with the words “Über Alles.” However, both versions direct officers to be “ruthless killer[s]” and instruct troopers to have “a mindset void of emotion” and to “meet violence with greater violence.”

It is unclear how many troopers KSP trained with the “Warrior Mindset” slideshows. According to KSP’s Facebook page, 60 cadets graduated in 2011, the year Curt Hall last edited the slideshow as shown above. Similarly, according to an article written by a state trooper, 62 cadets who attended the 2013 academy became Kentucky State Troopers. The KSP Academy generally graduates one class of cadets each year.

The electronic file properties indicate the version last saved by Curt Hall in 2011 had been revised 26 times. The file is listed as being created in 2001, but it isn’t known if the 2001 version originated within KSP or when the slideshow was used in training. According to Hall’s LinkedIn profile, Kentucky State Police hired Hall in 2000 and he began working at the KSP Academy in 2005.

A screenshot of the slideshow’s properties shows that it was created in 2001 and last modified in 2011.

Kentucky State Police did not respond to Manual RedEye’s open records request that would have revealed when the presentation was used and created.

RedEye requested “All PowerPoint presentations from 2010 to the present presented at the KSP Academy titled The Warrior Mindset,” but on October 30, KSP only provided the 2013 slideshow RedEye had already published on the site. They also didn’t provide any responses to other requested items, including documents that show demographic characteristics of KSP classes.

A guide to Kentucky Open Records & Open Meetings Acts, revised by Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office in June 2020, states “an agency shall respond to a request to inspect or receive copies of public records within ten days of receipt of the request.”

Despite the law, KSP did not respond to RedEye’s open records request within the required 10 calendar days. KSP acknowledged in an email on Oct. 30 that they received an open records request from RedEye reporters on Oct. 14, but did not respond until after the initial story was published on Oct. 30, six days beyond the legal timeline.

RedEye’s open records request included any complaints made by any cadets that attended the training. KSP’s response included no complaints.

On Monday, RedEye sent a follow up email asking KSP to provide all relevant records, but KSP did not respond as of Tuesday evening.

Jon Fleischaker, a Louisville civil rights and press attorney who has represented Courier Journal in open records cases, was unsurprised by the KSP’s lack of response.

“They’ve been very bad at responding appropriately to open records requests,” Fleischaker said. “Kentucky State Police has a history of being adverse to the press, and they do not stand for transparency.”