By Hanna B. Smith
Scooter Stein, Director of Public Affairs for the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, is the 2016 winner of the department’s Captain Jackye Taylor Humanitarian Award. Scooter, whose real first name is Edward, is the son of Alan Stein, former president of Ohavay Zion Synagogue, and Judge Kathy Stein. He is the grandson of the late Ed and Ann Stein of Lexington and the late Erle Wright and Vivian Barker Wright.
Captain Jackye Taylor, after whom the award is named, was a law-enforcement officer in the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department who represented the best in community policing. The Fayette County Sheriff’s Department is very concerned about developing and maintaining good community relations in order to provide effective services. This is especially important today when so many communities in our nation experience a growing mistrust between citizens and law-enforcement personnel.
In his job, Scooter is the media contact for the Sheriff’s Department, and he is very involved in the local community. Lexington/Fayette County, as small as it is, is home to a very diverse population. There are 128 languages spoken in the area, 89 of them by the children in Fayette County schools.
It helps that Scooter is proficient in Spanish, and he is frequently asked to translate for people who contact the Sheriff’s Department or who appear in court. Part of his job is to explain local law to people who come from different cultural backgrounds and see that they do not get lost in the system. It is not unusual for immigrants to come from countries where the citizen has to fear police. While the role of police in the U.S. is to maintain public order, this task is combined with assisting people in various ways.
For example, the Sheriff’s office helps homeless people locate needed services, such as shelter or more permanent housing, food, and medical care. Some of the local homeless rely upon the Sheriff’s office for help with paperwork, keeping track of medications, and getting to doctor’s appointments.
In order to help the Sheriff’s staff and law enforcement officers relate well to this diverse population, Scooter recommended and helped initiate a training program called “Diverse Voices.” Representatives of the various population groups in Fayette County speak to the assembled officers about their own cultural backgrounds and how police are viewed by the citizenry in their countries of origin. This gives the officers insight into why people respond in certain ways when seeing a local police officer and helps the officer adjust his or her response accordingly. For example, one African lady related how women in her country fear police because in Africa a large number of police have been involved in rape. The “Diverse Voices” program has been well received, and Scooter is rightly proud of this achievement.
Scooter has a master’s degree in international relations and Spanish, and he has travelled extensively in South America. He has also worked as a teacher and as an intern in Honduras and Costa Rica. These experiences have given him an understanding of different cultures and mindsets.
We are proud to have an accomplished and compassionate employee like Scooter Stein in the Sheriff’s office, and wish him continued success in his work.