Matthews announces run for sheriff’s office

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By Forrest Berkshire, Editor

Nelson County Sheriff’s Deputy Lt. Kaelen Matthews has announced he is running for sheriff.

Matthews announced Saturday on a campaign Facebook page that he had filed a letter of intent on Oct. 5 with the state, allowing him to start raising money and campaigning.

In a video on the page, Kaelen Matthews for Sheriff of Nelson County, he said one of the biggest goals of his life has been to serve as sheriff.

“I’ve been thinking about it for several years, and just building my career up to this particular point,” Matthews said Monday in an interview with the Standard. “At this particular junction, and with the education I’ve received, and the years of service building that relationship with the community, I’m ready to tackle that challenge.”

Matthews said among his top priorities are increasing the public’s knowledge of what the sheriff’s office does through “total professional transparency” and tackling the drug problem in the county through early intervention with youth through the school system.

“We see, as an agency, that the overwhelming majority of all crimes root from drugs, and that leads into your property crimes, thefts and those sorts of things,” Matthews said.

He said one quick change that would be feasible would be adding part-time deputies who would focus on tasks outside of traditional law enforcement, such as serving subpoenas and other court documents that would free up the deputies on road patrol.

“My plan would afford the ability for road deputies to focus more on law enforcement duties.”

His current duties include scheduling, and Matthews said a small tweak could provide more deputies on the road.

Matthews also said he wants to increase cooperation with the Bardstown Police Department, especially in conjunction with a school resource officer for the schools.

“The schools are a place where we can all make a difference,” he said.

Matthews, 37, was born and raised in Nelson County. He graduated from Nelson County and was on the football team that won the state championship. He kicked the game-winning extra point. He was hired as a deputy in 2003 after he graduated from the University of Louisville with a degree in justice administration. Lora Armstong of Bloomfield is "the love of his life," and he considers her 18-year-old daughter, Morgan, as his own.

He was promoted to sergeant in 2011 by former Sheriff Steve Campbell, the same time as the current Sheriff Ed Mattingly, who promoted him to lieutenant in 2016. Matthews said during his time in leadership of the department his work has resulted in more than $50,000 in grant money to provide handguns, Tasers and body armor for officers. He is also a past president of Fraternal Order of Police Old Kentucky Home Lodge No. 43, where he led one of the largest fundraising initiatives in its history.

In addition to his duties as a lieutenant, Matthews also serves on the E-911 Board and is its chairman for 2017.

He was also behind forming the Citizens Police Academy, which recently began its second course educating interested residents on the duties of the sheriff’s office and other first-responders. He said he would like to expand that to public courses about all first-responders, including EMS and dispatch.

“I really think that would deliver a big message when you have the sheriff’s office, the EMS, the fire department and the Bardstown Police,” he said. “If we can all unite, I can envision that as well.”

“The community’s first, in conjunction with a professionally transparent and involved agency, that will always be my vision.”

Matthews will file on the Democratic ticket. One of his fellow deputies, Sgt. Ramon Pineiroa, has also filed a letter of intent and plans to file on the Democratic ticket. The primary is in May.