How to Become a Police Officer in Kentucky
The state of Kentucky has more than just mountains and blue grass. It has both large cities and small communities that need professional public safety and law enforcement services. While many individuals express interest in becoming certified peace officers, only the finest are chosen to patrol the streets of this diverse region. Members of Kentucky’s police force are highly respected by residents and officials alike.
The standards for new recruits are set by the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council; this group includes sheriffs, chiefs of police, citizens, and a member of the Kentucky State Bar Association. Each participant is appointed by the governor for a four-year term. Whether an applicant desires employment as a state trooper or with a specific city or county department, she must meet all the following qualifications before attending a training academy.
- Be a U.S. Citizen
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Hold a valid Kentucky drivers license
- Have no felony convictions
- Hold a high school diploma or GED
- Have no dishonorable discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces
- Be legally permitted to possess a firearm
- Submit fingerprints for a criminal background check
- Undergo a background investigation
- Sit for a polygraph examination and a suitability screener
- Pass a drug screening test
- Pass a medical examination
- Pass a physical ability test
Physical Fitness Testing
The KLEC has developed a physical agility test battery that is used throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky for both entrance to and exit from a police academy. The test includes five separate requirements.
- Bench press
- 300 meter run
- 1.5 mile run
The entire test must be completed within three hours, and the applicant must pass with a score of 50 points or higher. The points are determined by repetitions, time limits, and percentage of body weight that can be bench pressed. Since physical fitness is an immensely important aspect of a peace officer’s qualifications, the agility test is designed to measure the following capabilities.
- Aerobic Power (Cardiovascular Endurance)
- Anaerobic Power
- Absolute Strength
- Muscular Endurance
Unless the potential recruit has previously had a law enforcement certification revoked in another state, she can interview for a position after satisfying all the basic requirements and reading the Kentucky Law Enforcement Officer’s Code of Ethics.
In some departments, the candidate is hired before the rigorous training process begins. The City of Bowling Green, for instance, sends new officers to nearby Richmond for an 18-22 week training course while paying them a standard salary of $37,530 per year. Their pay is then supplemented upon completion of the program.
Likewise, the Louisville Metro Police Department conducts an academy for newly-hired recruits and pays them as they attend. The program requires that more than 1,000 hours of instruction be successfully completed in 24 weeks. After graduation, the trainee becomes a probationary officer for an additional 24 weeks during which time she rides with three separate training officers for eight weeks each. She is evaluated on criteria such as driving skills, field performance, report writing, and knowledge of policies. If the training supervisors recommend that the rookie drive solo at the end of the probationary period, then she is given 28 more weeks to prove herself to be qualified for a permanent position.
Only experienced deputies can apply to become a trooper with the Kentucky State Police. After a sworn officer has worked in Kentucky for three years, she can register for the Law Enforcement Accelerated Program. The training lasts for eleven weeks and prepares the cadet for her probationary period of one year. She must have an endorsement from a current KSP trooper in order to enter the academy and is then paid an annual salary of $2,870.16 throughout the duration of the course.
Kentucky’s Department of Criminal Justice Training offers both entry-level and in-service preparation to 11,000 students every year. In addition to basic police training, this institution works with recruits who want to enter the airport or university police force. The curriculum covers water enforcement as well as motor vehicle enforcement along with mining reclamation and alcoholic beverage control. In 2003, this school was the first academy of its type in the nation to become accredited under CALEA’s new Public Safety Training Academy Accreditation. The program administrators adhere to many nationally recognized standards and often help students to receive salary supplements through the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund.
Seasoned Kentucky peace officers enjoy comparable benefits to those of fellow officers in neighboring states. Newly trained recruits start with an annual salary between $35,000 and $40,000. In some areas, such as Louisville, pay increases are negotiated by the Fraternal Order of Police. Troopers with the Kentucky State Police receive a 10 percent increase with each promotion along with raises based on number of years served. The ranks are as follows.
- Senior Trooper
- First Class Trooper
- Master Trooper
Overtime is often available for Kentucky law enforcement personnel. Meanwhile, significant benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans boost the compensation rate. Paid holidays and vacation time are also among the added perks. Officers are provided with the necessary uniforms, equipment, weapons, and even vehicles that the job demands.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of a career in law enforcement is the wide array of special operations that offer unique, meaningful employment opportunities. Below is a list of a few positions that an experienced officer can choose from.
- General investigator
- Canine Handler
- Executive Protection Officer
- Drug Investigator
- Public Affairs Officer
- Traffic Officer
- Special Response Team
- Academy Instructor
- License Exam Officer
- Internal Investigator
- Training Fitness Officer
- Firearms/Range Officer