Three officers received citations for bravery, one was awarded a medal for valor and one was named trooper of the year.
Although Post 10 is located in Harlan County, Bell and Knox counties are also included in the post’s district. In all three counties, Post 10 provides coverage with 49 officers, including troopers, detectives and supervisors, plus K-9 unit Jerry Lee and his handler, trooper Jimmy Young. There are also 11 dispatchers, three in the business office, a radio tech and a custodian employed at Post 10.
Lt. Phillip Burnett Jr., trooper George W. Howard and trooper Jeremy T. Lee each received a Citation for Bravery. Trooper Walter R. Cashen received a Citation for Meritorious Service with V Device for Valor and trooper Walter S. Szczepan was named Post 10 Trooper of the Year.
KSP Public Affairs Officer Walt Meachum said on Oct. 1, 2006, troopers from Post 10 responded to a call for assistance by the Pineville Police Department that Errol B. Turner, 78, of Pineville, was threatening his neighbors with a shotgun.
“When the troopers arrived, Mr. Turner began brandishing his shotgun in a threatening manner and then walked toward the troopers and discharged his gun at them. Troopers Jeremy Lee, George Howard and Lt. P.J. Burnett returned fire, fatally shooting Mr. Turner,” Meachum said.
Burnett is a native and resident of Pineville. He is a 1991 graduate of Bell County High School and a 1995 graduate of Union College. He is the son of Phillip and Arlene Burnett, of Pineville.
Howard is a native and resident of Pineville. A graduate of Bell County High School, he is the son of the late George Howard and Doris Howard.
Lee is a native and resident of Harlan. He graduated from James A. Cawood High School in 1997 and Union College in 2001. He is the son of Larry and Jeanne Ann Lee, of Harlan.
Post 10 Commander John Bradley said Burnett, Howard and Lee received one of the highest awards bestowed on officers.
“These three men were called to respond to a situation in Pineville involving an armed man who posed a deadly threat to numerous officers and the general public. They were put in a situation which no officer envies or ever wants to have to respond to, yet it is sometimes an unfortunate reality in the life of a state trooper,” Bradley said. “The three officers all responded to the immediate threat with gunfire which fatally wounded the suspect. Their actions exemplified their dedication to the ideals of the Kentucky State Police, namely courage in the face of grave danger and commitment to the preservation of public safety. These three officers all responded quickly, appropriately and fearlessly in a situation which certainly could have resulted in their own death or injury as well as the harm to numerous other innocent people.”
Meachum said Cashen is a native of Louisville and a resident of Corbin. He is the son of Ray Cashen and Martha Cashen, of Louisville. He received his honor for the incident on Aug. 14 involving a fatal crash at the Delta Gas Station in Pineville. A man’s vehicle left the roadway and traveled across the parking lot of Delta Gas and struck a gas pump, knocking it over and engulfed the truck into flame.
“Trooper Cashen displayed extraordinary courage by acting quickly to mitigate the effects of a spreading fire at a gas station in Pineville. After an accident ignited some tanks at the Pineville Delta Gas Station, trooper Cashen rushed into the establishment and shut off the gas pumps to avoid a larger explosion. He did so at his own peril and was injured in the process. Trooper Cashen is a well seasoned, dependable, unflappable officer, and I am not one bit surprised by his cool nature and response to an extremely dangerous situation. As a result of his actions, he was awarded the KSP Citation for Meritorious Service with ‘V’ device for Valor.”
Meachum said that in 2007, trooper Walt Szczepan led all troopers at Post 10 in activity and solved multiple criminal cases, and for this outstanding achievement, he was named the Post 10 Trooper of the Year. Szczepan is a native of Leonardtown, Md., and a resident of Cumberland. He is a 1995 graduate of Great Mills High School in Maryland. He is the son of June L. Saylor, of Columbia, and the late Walter Szczepan.
“Trooper Szczepan was my nominee for Trooper of the Year for the Kentucky State Police. Walter is not only an exceptional Kentucky State trooper, but he is an exceptional human being. He is consistently recognized as a very self-directed, highly motivated officer,” Bradley said. “He continually distinguishes himself with numerous self-directed police actions with the intent of making Harlan County roads safe from traffic violators and our homes safe from criminals. I repeatedly receive anecdotal comments from folks indicating how approachable, fair and professional he is. But in addition to his professional dedication, he also continues his dedicated service to others when he’s off the KSP clock. He coached football and track at Cumberland High School and did multiple tours overseas serving his country in the military. He is the type of guy who always applies himself 100 percent, always has a smile and a kind word, and is of just an exceptional character.”
Bradley went on to say that he is proud of all the troopers who work in the Post 10 district.
“I feel lucky to have the opportunity to work with them, and I feel like the citizenry here is blessed with guys who are fearless, caring and dedicated to their service. All of the guys above were in serious situations and responded with true courage,” Bradley said.
A Harlan County native, senior trooper Fred Cornett was named Trooper of the Year at Post 15 in Columbia.
Cornett joined the Kentucky State Police in 2002 and was assigned to the Columbia Post after graduating from the academy in August, 2002. Cornett is currently serving as a selective traffic enforcement patrol unit and was previously assigned to the Marion/Washington County area.