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Tensions over conditions at Fayette County jail result is 'no confidence' vote

Brenna Angel

The union representing corrections officers at the Fayette County Detention Center is calling for immediate leadership changes, following a no-confidence vote regarding LFUCG Public Safety Commissioner Kenneth Armstrong and detection center director Lisa Farmer.

Concerns about safety, overtaxed staff, and overall low morale at the jail have been ongoing for years.

"We feel like the division has lost its vision and we need some help to get back on track," Steve Parker with FCDC told the city council back in 2018, with fellow officer Emily Brian adding, "I've never, ever seen it this bad. It's very stressful. We are very tired."

That frustration appears to have finally boiled over, resulting in a vote of no confidence in the leaders by Fraternal Order of Police Town Lodge #83, the corrections union. The FOP is calling is calling for new management and a city investigation into the working conditions, which have been plagued by staffing shortages.

Current LFUCG Public Safety Commissioner Kenneth Armstrong has spoken to the issues before the council as well, saying the division was trying its best to fill positions. This is Armstrong last year, acknowledging the strain on corrections officers.

"They are stressed. They're overworked," Armstrong said in 2021. "We try and work with them as the administration and the command staff and the union to alleviate that as much as we can, but it is a difficult job we all agree on that."

Responding to discussions about bringing in the National Guard to help the troubled division, the mayor’s office released a statement downplaying that option. It went it on to argue that the Guard would need to undergo significant new training for the role, the mobilization period would be short, and Lexington would be far down the priority list – given that other jails and prisons are in “far worse shape.”

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.