A scandalous chapter from Hopkinsville’s past is topic of next History on Tap

Local resident Wynn Radford will describe the allegations of corruption that prompted a federal grand jury probe of local government and police in the 1950s.

Hopkinsville’s form of city government, with a mayor and 12 council members, was established in the 1950s to replace a smaller governing body that came under the scrutiny of a federal grand jury when allegations arose that local police were brutalizing Fort Campbell soldiers in the city and that prostitution, gambling and bootlegging were widespread.

The investigation and events surrounding it will be the subject of the next History on Tap, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at Hopkinsville Brewing Co., 102 E. Fifth St.

The Louisville Courier-Journal ran a front-page story on Oct. 29, 1952, about a federal grand jury investigation of Hopkinsville.

Hopkinsville resident Wynn Radford, who has been researching this chapter in local history, will give the program. 

A federal grand jury at Paducah issued a report on Oct. 28, 1952, that said the “Hopkinsville Police Department and the commissioner of safety have accepted bribes and payoffs … They have had knowledge of widespread prostitution in Hopkinsville and have done little to stop it. They have had knowledge of bootlegging and illegal whiskey operations …,” the Louisville Courier-Journal reported the following day in a front-page story. 

The grand jury also said police treatment of military personnel was “brutal and inhuman.”

The Museums of Historic Hopkinsville-Christian County sponsors History on Tap once a month and invites local speakers to highlight various stories from the community’s past. 

A scandalous chapter from Hopkinsville’s past is topic of next History on Tap

Jennifer P. Brown | Hoptown Chronicle

Jennifer P. Brown is co-founder, publisher and editor of Hoptown Chronicle. You can reach her at editor@hoptownchronicle.org. She spent 30 years as a reporter and editor at the Kentucky New Era. She is a co-chair of the national advisory board to the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, governing board president for the Kentucky Historical Society, and co-founder of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition.