FRANKFORT, Ky – Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is looking to invest in law enforcement in his two-year budget. That includes pay raises and body cameras.
New cadets with Kentucky State Police are getting a pay raise. Gov. Andy Beshear unveiled part of his upcoming budget plan which includes investments in law enforcement so the commonwealth can be a leader in improving public safety.
The Governor’s two-year budget plan provides millions of dollars to fund competitive salaries for Kentucky State Police (KSP) troopers, officers and telecommunicators, supply recording devices for KSP sworn troopers and increase the peace officer training stipend. The Governor also reiterated the need for lawmakers to use up to $400 million in federal aid to provide a monetary “hero bonus” to those who have worked on the front lines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said should include the state’s law enforcement community.
“My administration’s top priority is to protect our Kentucky families and communities,” said Gov. Beshear. “And today I am announcing that my next recommended budget will make historic investments in law enforcement, so that the commonwealth can become a true leader in improving public safety.”
Competitive salaries needed for KSP sworn personnel
KSP ranks 74th in the state among law enforcement agencies for starting pay, and compared with state police agencies in seven neighboring states, KSP ranks last in pay.
The Governor said his plan would change starting pay for sworn officers from about $40,000 a year to $55,000. Current sworn troopers and officers would also receive the increase.
KSP is staffed with 736 full-time sworn troopers and officers, which is 273 short of where the agency’s sworn strength was in 2006.
“We are losing good troopers to other agencies who are able to pay higher salaries. KSP has had 41 Troopers resign from our ranks so far in this calendar year. We have also had another 41 Troopers retire during this calendar year.” -KSP Detective Courtney Milam
Competitive salary increase needed for KSP telecommunicators
KSP telecommunicators handle dispatch duties for Kentucky state troopers, commercial vehicle enforcement officers, conservation officers and other emergency service agencies as needed. Currently, KSP telecommunicators are in the bottom 10% of lowest paid in the state, and there are currently 42 vacant positions.
“Last year, telecommunicators answered over 2 million calls resulting in more than 500,000 requests for assistance. They were the calming voice on the other end of the line when those calls were made to 911,” Gov. Beshear said. “Improving their salary is one step toward retaining these essential workers and better compensating them for their dedication.”
In the past five years, KSP has averaged a nearly 23% turnover rate. The Governor’s proposal will increase KSP telecommunicators’ starting pay from $24,000 annually to $32,000. Currently employed telecommunicators also would receive the increase.
Investment in recording system for state police
The Governor announced that $12.2 million is being included in his budget for KSP to purchase an integrated video recording system.
“Public safety requires transparency and accountability of our law enforcement, and one way that can be achieved is by being outfitted with recording devices,” said Gov. Beshear. “I believe that recording devices provide protection to law enforcement officers by documenting exactly what happens during a situation.”
With the proposed funding, KSP will be able to equip 650 uniformed troopers and officers, as well as members of other specialized sections.
Support for training stipend for law enforcement officers
The Governor is including an increase of $600 in his budget to be issued to all law enforcement officers upon completion of their state mandated 40 hours of in-service training; therefore, providing officers $4,600 annually through the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund (KLEFPF).
Clark County Sheriff Berl Perdue, president of the Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police, said: “Given the climate around law enforcement across our nation, the Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police is pleased to see our state take the initiative to fund and support our law enforcement officers. This will provide better working conditions for our members and an improved quality of life.”
In October, the Governor announced a plan to use $400 million in American Rescue Plan Act money to fund bonuses for essential workers who worked through the pandemic.
KSP recruitment efforts
Finally, Gov. Beshear talked about KSP recruitment efforts and how $500,000 from the last budget has helped the agency hire minority troopers in the recruitment branch and developed a marketing initiative to reach individuals from Kentucky’s 120 counties. The digital ads were launched in venues such as colleges and universities, outdoor billboards in rural communities, social media and streaming television platforms. Additionally, KSP is partnering with Dr. Aaron Thompson of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education and Vikki Stone of the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet, and working closely with retired minority KSP Troopers to further improve their diversity recruitment efforts.
The Governor added that in the coming weeks, he would unveil other parts of his upcoming budget that will bolster personnel in other critical roles such as social workers, corrections officers and youth workers, as well as educators and state employees.