Kentucky Chief Under Investigation Over Blackface Photo

A Kentucky fire chief is under investigation after a 20-year-old photo of him wearing blackface makeup surfaced. The Anderson County Fire District started the investigation following the disclosure of the photo during a contentious disciplinary hearing for a former battalion chief on August 19, 2021.

During the hearing for BC Marty Terry, an attorney representing the battalion chief confronted  Fire Chief Pat Krogman with the photo as part of his defense strategy. BC Terry was facing charges for “failure to conduct himself in a manner that reflects positively on the department,” in part for his social media activities, and in part for not complying with COVID19 protocols.

According to The Anderson News, attorney Ed Dove confronted Chief Krogman with the photo. I will quote Anderson News so there is no mistaking what was reported to have been said:

  • “If you’re concerned about social media, is there an issue with the fire department dressing up in costumes?” Dove asked. “Have you ever dressed up in a costume and placed it on social media?”
  • “Yes, I have,” Krogman responded.
  • “Objection,” said Ed Logan, the fire board’s attorney. “We’re not here to discuss the chief.”
  • “I think it’s a very appropriate conversation,” countered Dove, who stood up.
  • “I want to show you a picture,” Dove continued while carrying what appeared to be the blackface image.
  • “You can sit down,” Krogman interjected. “I know what that picture is.”
  • “When was that picture taken?” Dove asked
  • “That picture was taken 20-plus years ago,” Krogman said.
  • “Would that be appropriate for you to have a post like that in your position?” Dove asked before Logan cut him off.
  • “Objection, we are talking about a post that was long before he was ever part of this department,” Logan said, before Dove cut him off.
  • “And so do a lot of politicians,” Dove said. “I think it’s totally relevant.”
  • Following the hearing, Dove said he didn’t bring up the issue to embarrass Krogman.
  • “I wanted to show he violated the social media policy,” said Dove. “You can’t charge someone with violating a policy if you’ve violated it yourself.”
  • Dove also referenced a back and forth during the hearing that included Krogman calling Terry a “smart a**.”
  • “On at least two occasions he used profanity and violated policy in doing so,” Dove said.
  • The disciplinary hearing for Terry ended without a decision.

In response to media attention regarding the photo, fire board chairman Johnny Wall issued a statement:

“The Anderson County Fire Protection District has been made aware of the photo in question of Chief Krogman posted on social media. The Anderson County Fire Protection District takes any and all matters regarding race and discrimination very serious. While Chief Krogman’s service to the department and the citizens of Anderson County has been nothing but exemplary, this matter will be fully investigated by the Board of Trustees.”

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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