University police now have officer title

For the past year, NKU Police Sergeant John Gaffin has left his wife and daughter to go into work at 6 p.m. Gaffin said it’s hard, being a police officer and having to be away from his family, but he loves his work.

On Feb. 22, Gaffin, who has been on the force for six years since graduating from NKU, along with Officer Ray Haley, discovered a warrant on a driver after the driver got into a fender bender near the entrance of the university.

“The little things quickly turn into the big things,” Gaffin said. “All [of this] over a fender bender. You never know.”

In the event of the worst happening, Frankfort lawmakers have decided to change the definition of university police officers across the Commonwealth, so that they will receive the benefits they believe they deserve if something happens and they are injured or die in the line of duty.

The only thing previously standing in the way of the officers getting these benefits was an argument of semantics. Previously they were defined as “safety and security officers.”

NKU Police Chief Jason Willis said that this definition was inaccurate, as all of the officers on NKU’s force had gone through the police academy. Now, the law defines them as “police officers,” and their families are able to receive benefits if they are killed in the line of duty.

This need for a change became apparent after Virginia Tech officer Deriek Crouse was shot and killed during a traffic stop in December 2011 and his family was denied state benefits.

State Representative Denny Butler (D—Jefferson county) said the lawmakers were made aware of the need by members of the University of Louisville police department.

According to Butler, on all eight public university campuses in Kentucky, there are a total of 212 police officers. According to the campus police website, there are 16 trained officers on NKU’s police force.

The bill passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives unanimously and was signed into law by Governor Beshear on March 19.