City commission discusses crosswalk safety project

Published 1:00 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2022

On Tuesday of this past week, the Winchester Board of Commissioners gathered for a 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. meeting.

Some particular points came out of both.

Among other topics, a Law Enforcement Assistant Program was presented to the commissioners, and they agreed to pilot a crosswalk safety measure designed to benefit the community positively.

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LEAP is a pre-booking, community-based program allowing law enforcement in Winchester and around Clark County to connect others with proper services rather than take them to jail for pre-determined charges.

Lindsey Horseman, Program Director at Achieving Recovery Together, and Sgt. Monty Corbett of the Winchester Police Department jointly discussed the project.

“We started implementation in March of this year…We have had so far 84 cases referred to the LEAP program by the Winchester Police Department in eight months”, said Horseman. “We’ve had 29 cases dismissed, which is actually the goal of the program.”

Only individuals faced with particular charges – such as alcohol or public intoxication, criminal trespass in the 2nd or 3rd degree, or possession of marijuana or a controlled substance in the 2nd and 3rd degree – are optional for consideration.

Addressing questions from the commissioners and those in attendance, Sgt. Corbett emphasized that the program was an intervention rather than a reduction in law and order.

“There’s very few charges that are allowed for this program, so it’s not a get out of jail free card, and it’s not a soft on crime approach,” said Corbett. “It is addressing those matters in the community for the individuals that have issues with alcohol and drug abuse, homelessness, mental health issues, [and] medical issues that they’re not taking care of themselves that lead them to have this propensity to commit crime.”

One goal of the program is to reduce recidivism by addressing underlying problems rather than focusing solely on incarceration.

Individuals will still get cited by officers but will follow a treatment plan that ART has created for them.

To get charges removed, they must complete the particular treatment plan, which will be assessed after 90 days.

Those who don’t complete the program will need to complete sentencing.

“This program is already providing dividends to this community,” Corbett said.

With this program being the first of its kind in Kentucky, several commissioners supported it.

“This needs to be blasted throughout the state [so] everybody knows this,” said Commissioner Shannon Cox.

The exact savings gained from implementing this program is waiting to be heard.

Also, Chad Walker – co-owner of The Engine House – spoke about a program originally located online called See Me Flags.

The goal is to enhance pedestrian safety by simplifying the process of safely crossing streets.

A See Me flag is designed to be waved for improved visibility and is intended to be a simple and immediate fix for pedestrian safety while sidewalk concerns continue being addressed.

A video of the flags being used indicated that there has been some success in having vehicles come to a stop when waiting for those holding the flags to cross.

“The flags themselves are basically just wooden dowels, and they’re construction flags. If we decided to go another direction…We could”, Walker said. “The introductory set, as a cost, cost me $200. I can replicate those things…it’s basically a piece of PVC pipe with an end cap, about 12 dowels, and a construction flag.”

The Winchester Police Department expressed support at the meeting.

Walker addressed concerns about keeping flags in place.

“They’ve been up for three weeks now, and I’m glad to say that none of them have left yet,” he said. “The replacement cost, if need be, is cheap.”

They approved a vote to allow a pilot program to take place.

Locations will be near Leeds Center for the Arts, among other places.

None will be at controlled intersections.

Streets such as Broadway Ave. may be up for future consideration.