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Kenton County Changes Dispatch Director After Phone Hack Claim

This story has been updated to reflect that Tommy Thompson has retained legal counsel.

Tommy Thompson is out as executive director at Kenton County Emergency Communications.

Steve Hensley, director of Kenton County Emergency Management, will serve as interim executive director of the dispatch center.

The sudden change in leadership comes amid two significant changes to the operations of the dispatch center. Kenton, Boone, and Campbell counties, along with Northern Kentucky municipalities and emergency agencies, are preparing for an expensive upgrade to digital radios in order to improve communication across jurisdictions.

Sooner, Erlanger's dispatch center will become part of the Kenton County system, a change that is expected in late June. The cities of Erlanger, Elsmere, and Crescent Springs will then be served by the county system, uniting all dispatch operations in the county for the first time. (Covington consolidated its dispatch operations into the county system in 2012.)

Kenton County Administrator Joe Shriver said that a change in leadership was needed ahead of those developments at the county dispatch center.

"We're getting ready to enter into a couple critical phases with the dispatch center as it relates to Erlanger and the radio system," Shriver said. Local governments will make their "best and final offer" on the radios next week, he said.

However, when Thompson was hired in July 2016, Shriver credited his knowledge of radio systems and public safety as making Thompson stand out from the other applicants.

Shriver, on Thursday, sent a letter to Thompson informing him that the county was executing its contractual right to provide a 30-day notice of termination of that contract. On Friday, the Kenton County Emergency Communications board of directors held a special meeting, one that Shriver said was advertised per state statute, and voted to place Thompson on administrative leave until the contract terminates thirty days later.

Shriver would not comment on reports of a video allegedly posted by Thompson to his personal Facebook page. On Tuesday, Thompson posted to his Facebook page, "My phone was hacked tonight any video was not intentional your phones are not secure."

The River City News has not independently verified the contents of the video in question.

Thompson said Saturday that he could not comment but has retained legal counsel.

Hensley, Shriver said, does not want to take on the job permanently. Instead, the county will rely on Hensley's experience in working in city government and police departments, including Erlanger's dispatch center, to oversee the dispatch transition. Hensley referred RCN to Shriver for comment. "He was served by the county dispatch and Erlanger dispatch over his career, so he was pretty much a logical choice when it came to bringing someone in familiar with the situation," Shriver said.

The Kenton County Fiscal Court will have to take formal action on Thompson's termination and Hensley's hire, as so far Shriver has only acted on its behalf.

This story will be updated when more information is known.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo: Tommy Thompson (RCN file)

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