Thoughts And Goals From Community Leaders
(Editor’s note: This is a weekly series interviewing community leaders to share their thoughts and goals for the community.)
Ernie Kelty is currently serving his third term as Mercer County sheriff. Originally from Washington County, Kelty came to Mercer County in 1984 following four years of service in the United States Air Force. Kelty served the Harrodsburg Police Department for 26 years and was elected to his first term as sheriff eight years ago.
“We have one of the most caring and compassionate communities here in Mercer County and I am proud that I am a part of it,” said Kelty. “It is so important to me to be a part of what makes Mercer County great. I am grateful that I have earned the trust of the community and serve as their sheriff.”
Kelty said law enforcement has changed a lot since he started in 1984 and he is happy to have been a part of that change.
“In 1998 Kentucky changed the professional standards of law enforcement and I was lucky enough to get to participate in those changes,” said Kelty. “They added a physical requirement, a psychological evaluation including a polygraph, extreme background checks and increased training from eight weeks to over 20 weeks.”
Kelty said he always wanted to be in law enforcement and wants to be available for the community.
“I want to be someone the community knows they can call for help,” said Kelty. “I take my position as sheriff very seriously and I want people to know they can depend on me to be there to help them to the best of my ability.”
Kelty said that becoming sheriff was one of his greatest accomplishments but the greatest is his family.
“I am happily married with four boys, three grandchildren and one more on the way,” said Kelty. “Being in law enforcement takes a toll on my family. They have been supportive from day one and I am very blessed for having them.”
Kelty said his goals for Mercer County include building more of a solid foundation within the sheriff’s office and continuing to combat the drug epidemics.
“Heroin and meth have changed society and law enforcement is on the front lines of that. Not only with the victims of theft or crime generated from addiction but also for the families who call about their loved ones,” said Kelty. “Unfortunately, there isn’t one answer to the problem. I think we as the community have to continue working at it as a team.”
Kelty said the majority of the calls the sheriff’s department gets can be traced back to drugs.
“The solution is like baking a cake. It will take more than one ingredient and law enforcement is only one of the ingredients,” said Kelty. “Mercer County is filled with many other organizations working together for the betterment of the community as a whole. We are all ingredients in the cake.”
Kelty said combating the drug issues is difficult and there are no easy answers.
“I will do anything I can to help anyone but I am also a firm believer in responsibility and accountability,” said Kelty. “At this point, if any family hasn’t been affected by drugs in some fashion then that family has been extremely blessed.”
Kelty said he is grateful to be part of a community like Mercer County since it is full of people who do care.
“When someone is in need the community comes together. I have seen it happen so many times over the years,” said Kelty. “I am extremely proud to be a part of a community like that.”
For more information on the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office call 734-4221.