Gov. Beshear Signs Legislation Supporting Law Enforcement, Public Safety

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 24, 2023) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear joined lawmakers and local officials to sign three pieces of legislation that support law enforcement and increase public safety.

“The safety of all Kentuckians is the very top priority of my administration. It is crucial that we do everything we can to support our law enforcement and enhance public safety,” said Gov. Beshear. “We have done a lot of good work, and today, we’re doing even more to support our commonwealth by signing three bills aimed at building on our progress.”

Senate Bill 89
Gov. Beshear signed Senate Bill 89, which allows the legislative body of an urban-county government to re-employ, as needed, individuals as police officers who have retired from the Police and Fire Retirement Fund.

“We are hoping that this will make the streets safer; we are hoping that this will make your communities safer; and we are hoping that this will make you sleep better at night knowing that when you go to sleep and your kids are still out, they are safe,” said Sen. Donald R. Douglas of Nicholasville.

“The Governor is signing several pieces of legislation today that I think are going to help us make our city safer,” said Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton. “Public safety is my top priority; it is the foundation of a successful community. Nothing is more important.”

“I am excited for the opportunities this legislation will provide for the Lexington Police Department and agencies across the state,” said Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers.

House Bill 380
The Governor signed House Bill 380, which expands the eligibility of potential peace officers to include individuals who have not yet turned 21 years old at the time of basic training, but who will have reached the statutorily required qualification of being 21 years old by the time certification is completed.

Under current law, all certified peace officers must be at least 21 at the time of certification. This legislation clarifies that training of the officer may occur while the individual is still 20 years old, so long as they will have reached the required age of 21 by the time certification occurs.

“This is a strong, solid piece of public safety legislation, and I appreciate our sheriffs, police chiefs and local governments for putting this bill forward,” said Gov. Beshear. “When we get creative and make recruitment a priority with ideas like this one, we know Kentucky will continue to be at the top of public safety in the nation.”

Rep. Susan Tyler Witten of Louisville said, “This bill is a real attempt to help relieve the officer shortage that we currently face at LMPD, as well as shortages from across the state, by allowing law enforcement agencies to hire individuals into the agency at age 20 with the intention of allowing them to begin their basic training and become certified at 21.”

House Bill 540
Gov. Beshear signed House Bill 540, which will expand definitions related to the use of school resource officers (SROs) to apply to private or parochial schools as well as public schools, creating consistency of expectations across different types of schools.

The Governor said this bill builds on legislation he signed last year which required all public-schools to have a school resource officer per campus as funding and personnel allowed.

“Kentucky is a national leader in school safety. Our schools are safe and will continue to be safe because every day we will make sure every resource possible is given to our schools so that Kentucky’s kids – our leaders of tomorrow – have a safe learning environment to thrive, grow and reach their dreams,” said Gov. Beshear.

“One of the projects I have been able to work on in recent years is anything to do with school safety. It was very important that the one key facet to our work was the connectedness we had with our skilled law enforcement officers in the community,” said Rep. Killian Timoney of Nicholasville. “This bill will allow our parochial schools to not compromise on the incredible standard that we have implemented. I am really pleased we were able to do this. This will ensure school safety.”

“It is an honor for the Office of the Fayette County Sheriff to play a role in the safety and security of Kentucky’s schools. It takes everyone working together to achieve public safety and I am proud to have a role in that mission,” said Fayette County Sheriff Kathy Witt. “Thank you to Governor Beshear and the General Assembly for your tireless efforts to protect and better equip our men and women in law enforcement as they dedicate their lives to serving and protecting others.”

Beshear-Coleman Administration Commitment to Strengthening Public Safety
The Beshear-Coleman administration’s top priority is the safety of all Kentuckians. The Governor's public safety actions are creating safer communities and a better Kentucky now and into the future.

Since taking office, Gov. Beshear has awarded almost $8 million in grant funding to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in purchasing the tools and resources that will not only allow them to protect Kentucky communities but will also ensure their safety as they stand on the front lines every day.

In July, the Governor announced additional steps to enhance public and officer safety, including funding for a new firearms training facility, a Western Kentucky training site feasibility study and an increased training stipend for law enforcement officers.

In October, the administration took another step forward in creating safer communities by awarding more than $350,000 in grant funding to prevent youth crime across the commonwealth.

In June, Gov. Beshear announced the Military to Law Enforcement Program (M-2-LE). M-2-LE allows local law enforcement agencies in Kentucky to hire active service members within all U.S. military branches during their last 180 days of service. Upon being contracted by a law enforcement agency, the military member will continue to receive their pay and benefits from the U.S. Military while they undergo law enforcement training at the Department of Criminal Justice Training.

In April, the Governor signed legislation he championed the previous year that funds a $15,000 raise for all troopers and a starting pay increase for sworn officers from $37,887 to $55,888 annually. In signing Senate Bill 209, Gov. Beshear established paid vacation, sick leave and holiday pay, as well as enhanced health insurance contribution payments for retired KSP troopers and commercial vehicle enforcement officers.

Also, as the Governor recommended in January 2022, $12.2 million was included in the state budget for KSP to purchase body cameras, which is the first time in the commonwealth’s history that funding has been allocated for this much-needed expense. Earlier this year, KSP demonstrated the new recording system, which will be distributed to approximately 780 sworn personnel.

In February of this year, Gov. Beshear and the KSP welcomed 103 cadets, the largest starting class since 2014, to the state police training academy. Due to the recent $15,000 salary increase for KSP sworn personnel and tireless efforts from the recruitment branch, sworn numbers for the agency have increased. KSP now employs 899 troopers, which is an increase of approximately 22% from 736 troopers in Nov. 2021.

Yesterday, the Governor announced that 31 law enforcement officers from agencies across the state graduated the Department of Criminal Justice Training’s basic training academy. Since Dec. 2019, Kentucky has welcomed 1,115 new officers into the partnership of public safety. Kentucky employs almost 8,000 men and women police officers and sheriff deputies working to create a commonwealth that is safer for all Kentuckians now and into the future.