Watchdog: Lexington cop caught with 20.5g weed, 800mg gabapentin, 10mg hydrocodone, 1.8g heroin, scales, needles, pipes still on the road

Jess Bowman, a local activist and police watchdog, said in a Facebook post that she recently discovered a Lexington cop caught with drugs in his cruiser is still on the road. Bowman wrote to city leaders about it:
“Mayor, Vice Mayor, and Members of Council,

On Sept 8, Council heard a police discipline from Chief Weathers regarding Officer Kyle Blankenship. The allegations were serious: Failing to book drugs, paraphernalia and other items into evidence as well as violations of policy regarding his search procedures and body worn cameras.

Is there a reason that council does not receive the full personnel file prior to approving a discipline? That file is publicly available information and so seems there is no reason that council shouldn’t have it ahead of time so you can ask appropriate questions.

Pertinent details are left out of what is read out and made available to council. For example, the reason that Ofc. Blankenship’s car was searched was not routine. It was because Fleet Services personnel detected a strong odor of suspected marijuana. I’m attaching the open records request that you may want to give a glance, starting at page 25. There was far more discovered in the trunk than some cannabis and papers. Far more…including heroin.

Furthermore, his body cam procedures are disturbing. Turning on late, turning off early, turning off while conducting searches. Body cams on all officers is portrayed as a big win for accountability but if officers can turn them off, how much accountability is there? Ofc. Blankenship has been an officer since May 2020. His body cam procedures were only reviewed from January 2022 forward. So one is left to wonder how many instances there were before then where he was violating procedures?

Officer Blankenship’s suspension doesn’t start until Oct. 3. He is currently working patrol. Read through his file and tell me…is this the kind of officer we want on our department policing our communities? This isn’t a mistake or two…this is MULTIPLE instances of breaking multiple procedures.

Council can choose to support the police department while ALSO expecting more transparency and accountability. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. I have written to you on multiple occasions regarding the lack of truth shared publicly in these disciplines, including officers who have threatened to put civilians “in the ground” or knock their teeth out receiving minimal repercussions. It is incredibly concerning that there is still so much lacking and that we are even discussing increase raises without discussing increased accountability.

Chief Weather stated in a press conference earlier this week that “the mistrust in this community wasn’t earned by our police officers…Our police officers have always been trustworthy far and wide.” These records and the continued lack of acknowledgement of the issues by our city govt and LPD tells a different tale. While it is individual officers committing these violations and involved in incidents but it is the SYSTEM of the department and the city government that allows it to continue and is why the mistrust exists.

I’d like to hear from you:

  • What do you plan to do to ensure this is handled in a more open and honest way?
  • What do you plan to do to make sure that you are not simply rubber stamping the recommendation by the chief?
  • When will council acknowledge PUBLICLY that community members calling for increased transparency and accountability is NOT the problem?

Jessica Bowman, 9th District

P.S. CM Brown and Legris, to answer your question about trainings, all training records are included in the personnel file and there is zero reason that Chief should not have been able to share with you if it had or had not been done.”

Bowman provided the officer’s file to The Times. It starts getting juicy around page 26.