Report: State training video lifted from white supremacist site

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A state investigation found a Kentucky law enforcement training video, that included a Nazi symbol, was lifted from an online white supremacist source that makes derogatory references to Jews and was presented during training classes as documented fact, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The newspaper, through the Kentucky Open Records Act, obtained the investigative report written by Inspector General Maryellen Mynear for the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet.

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The report says the law enforcement instructor responsible for the controversial training video “did not take any steps to determine the identity of ‘Renegade Films’ or the veracity of the information presented during the six-minute ‘history’ video clip.

Mynear wrote that the problem was training instructor Jeromy “Chad” Burkhart simply lifted six minutes of video from YouTube while he was preparing an online lesson for 911 dispatchers and other emergency workers taking a class about the drug epidemic, according to the newspaper report.

Burkhart told the inspector general’s office he decided to end the segment he would use for his training video just before the narrator began complaining about Jews.  Mynear wrote Burkhart didn’t think it was relevant, yet did not recognize the disparaging nature of the commentary, according to the report.

Burkhart was a 911 communications officer in Clark County prior to joining the Department of Criminal Justice Training in 2019, according to the report.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports during a brief phone interview on Tuesday, Burkhart declined to comment.

Mynear’s report says nearly a dozen people at the Department of Criminal Justice Training reviewed Burkhart’s training video, including his immediate supervisor, Duane Bowling, but apparently none of them watched the full video or otherwise investigated Burkhart’s source material, according to the newspaper’s report.

The report says Bowling admitted he knew from the lesson plan that the video was found on YouTube, but did not ask whether, or how, Burkhart verified the accuracy of the information or the source.

A spokeswoman for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet told the newspaper the Department of Criminal Justice Training took swift action in response to the controversial training video by requiring its instructors to complete four hours of education on developing more appropriate, relevant and professional training materials while also recognizing potentially offensive content.

The department also contacted the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Anti-Defamation League to schedule virtual training for a course entitled “Law Enforcement and Society:  Lessons of the Holocaust,” according to the report.

The newspaper says the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet did not respond to questions about any possible punishment for Burkhart or others at the department.

Mynear’s February 22, 2021 report says state employees at the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training did not intend to include a Nazi symbol in their course material last year and did not understand what the symbol meant, according to the report.

Governor Andy Beshear publicly denounced the training video last November.  The video’s existence came to light following a report by the student newspaper at duPont Manual High School in Louisville.  That came after a report from the student newspaper that some Kentucky State Police training materials included quotes from Adolf Hitler and instructed officers to be “ruthless killers.”  The slideshow titled “The Warrior Mindset” included a quote from Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

The state says the material is not currently a part of any training materials and was removed in 2013.

Once the student newspaper report about the KSP training material surfaced and the state began its investigation, then Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer resigned.

 

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.