Nicholasville Police Department Chief provides Updates to Rotary Club

Published 12:32 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2024

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At this week’s Rotary Club Lunch, Jessamine County Rotarians had Nicholasville Police Department Chief Michael Fleming as their guest speaker. 

Fleming returned after visiting the Rotary Club to speak last year, when he had just been promoted. He talked about his plans for the future. During this meeting, he provided updates on the NPD and on his first full year as the Police Chief. 

“This is my 23rd year at the NPD. Twenty-three years in, I’ll be starting my 24th year in November, so I was eligible to retire three years ago. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment,” Fleming said

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To start, Fleming mentioned his work for the Police Department. He said that in this line of work, in addition to firefighters, there are high rates of mortality by heart attacks—therefore, he prioritizes the health of his officers. 

“I wanted to lead a legacy of change within the police department and in our community, and a big thing of that is mental health and physical health, so I implemented working out on duty for our officers so every officer has the opportunity to work out in our in-house gym for an hour during a shift as long as manpower and their supervisor allows,” Fleming said.

According to Fleming, mental health is another element of health that the agency focuses on.

“Our officers deal with traumatic incidents all the time,” Fleming said. “Post-traumatic stress occurs due to the things we see, the things we deal with on a daily basis. It’s important to address those, and suicide among cops is a huge as well. So if we can reduce those numbers through mental health and physical health, we’re [going to] do that.”

Fleming has also increased the number of officers at the NPD.

“I convinced the City Commission that we needed more officers on the streets of Nicholasville so we are able to increase our authorized strength from 67 to 79 over three years. We are now entering the second year of that. As of this coming Tuesday, I will have 73 of those people hired.” 

Part of this effort to hire officers is implementing a pay scale so that new officers can see what they would make in different positions throughout their employment with the NPD. 

In providing raises for the NPD and the city’s Fire Department, Fleming thanked the city commission, specifically Commissioner Bethany Brown and General Government Director Doug Blackford for their efforts. 

“I asked for five cars, and [the City of Nicholasville] told me no, you’re [going to] get eight now but every single year. Things are good,” Fleming said.

One audience member asked why Lexington has such a high turnover rate among its officers if it pays so much better than Nicholasville and surrounding counties. 

“Lexington’s issue is their environment. Not only are they getting it from the public, but they’re getting it from the administration. I’ve heard horror stories about how their admin treats their officers and how there’s always witch hunts to find the little things they do wrong. I want to set a standard, but I don’t want to make my people always feel like they’reunder a microscope. We may sometimes pay a little less money than Georgetown, Richmond, and definitely Lexington, but we’ve created a culture within the police department and within this community that makes these officers feel that they’re wanted there, that they’re part of the family,” Fleming said.

In terms of changes for the community at large, Fleming has added two positions to the department, including a victim’s advocate and a social worker. 

Jackie Hisel is the new NPD social worker. Fleming said she “comes with a wealth of knowledge on homelessness, substance abuse, mental health crises, all the things that police officers aren’t equipped to deal with.”

Samantha Potter is the Victim’s Advocate. Previously, Tanya Northrup, who worked with the Sheriff’s Office, was the county’s victim’s advocate– as 85 percent of her cases were in Nicholasville. Fleming knew the city would miss the work Northrup did, and hired Potter. “We believe having someone in house to help officers with domestic situations, child abuse situations is important,” Fleming said. 

“Those two individuals are being paid more than my officers, but it’s because their education and their expertise are things that we really need in this community,” Fleming said. “We were lucky to have the city of Nicholasville approve those positions.” 

Crime Updates from Fleming: 

Fleming said drug overdoses are down in Jessamine County as they are statewide for the second year running. 

“I attribute that to the UK healing grant. They came in and found different ways to use money to combat substance abuse. Glinda Smith, ‘The Narcan Lady”’ distributed more Narcan in our community than anywhere in the state,” Fleming said. 

Fleming said there’s a thought process among business owners that having Narcan will attract drug users to their business, but he said they’re there anyway. “We feel at the NPD that Narcan is as important as having an AED or a first aid box at your business,” he said. 

If you know someone with a business who would like to have a Naloxone box installed, contact the Jessamine County Health Department (JCHD) at 859-885-4149. The JCHD will also keep the box stocked with Narcan for the business owners. 

In other crime updates, Fleming said that the NPD sees a lot of “domestic violence situations, and a lot of drug crime related crimes including theft,” he said. “We have discovered there’s a group outside of Louisville that sends teenagers down here in stolen cars to ransack your cars. Make sure your car is locked, [and] keep your valuables out of them. They’re paying these kids per gun they find. If you own a gun, get it out of your car. It’s not the place for it. These kids are smart, and they know where our flock cameras are, [so] they avoid them.”

Flock Cameras are the license plate readers in Nicholasville. There are eight in the city’s main thoroughfare. The eight the city has cost $20,000 a year.

“They’ve allowed us to find 35 stolen cars, three missing people and then we solved a bunch of other cases with them. Not only does it read license plates but if we put a vehicle description the system will find every vehicle that matches that description.”

Flock cameras are accessible to all police departments so long as other police departments grant each other access to their own Flock images. 

One example of the interconnectedness of Flock cameras across the U.S. was a drug bust that the NPD Drug Enforcement Unit did. 

“These people were coming from Detroit to sell large quantities of drugs in our community, and our drug department was able to track the car on its way down from Detroit,” Fleming said.

Jessamine County Sheriff Kevin Grimes will soon be adding Flock cameras around the county in places the city doesn’t have them, so Fleming said, “I’ll let him spend his money first before I install more.”

In Other News:

  • The Sheriff’s Office used to handle all civil processes, but with the addition of the social worker position, the NPD is able to handle more civil processes and share the work with the Sheriff’s Office.
  • “We really work seamlessly. Sheriff Grimes used to work with me, so our relationship is great. If they are short handed, we’ll run to the county to answer a call, and vice versa for the city,” Fleming said. 
  • The next Citizen’s Police Academy is in the fall, likely in late August or early September. They are held on Thursday nights from 6-8:30 p.m., and dinner is provided. You can get applications now at