Funding increases services for victims while supporting law enforcement officers
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 31, 2023) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that his administration is awarding $2.1 million in grant funding to 14 law enforcement agencies and one nonprofit organization. The funding will be used to curb the sale of illegal drugs and fight addiction.
The awards are from Kentucky’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) and are federal funds. As the administration works to further decrease drug overdose deaths, JAG funds will again be used to support drug task forces while also supporting prevention programs, drug treatment and education programs, mental health programs and crime victim and witness programs.
Early this year, Kentucky was recognized as only one of eight states to see a decline in drug overdoses last year. That was a decline of more than 5% compared with the previous year and is the first decline since 2018.
“These funds allow us to continue our support for crime victims while aiding law enforcement in their effort to create a better, safer Kentucky,” Gov. Beshear said. “By working together, we can take illegal drugs off the streets and ensure the services provided to affected Kentuckians are second to none.”
In addition to continued support for drug task forces, this year’s awards include support for a de-escalation and conflict resolution training curriculum for law enforcement officers and providing services to the justice-involved population. The funding will serve to further reduce the recidivism rate in Kentucky, which is currently the lowest in the state’s history.
The Governor was joined today by the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force and Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force.
Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force was awarded $137,791 to pursue drug trafficking organizations that bring illicit drugs into the region from other states, overseas and through South America and Mexico. The task force will also use the funds for their prescription drug box program to decrease drug misuse and availability in the Northern Kentucky area.
“The drug problem facing our nation is a much larger issue than something law enforcement can combat on our own,” said Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force Director Scott Hardcorn. “The continued success of task forces such as the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force is vital for our community members and continued economic development in the commonwealth. JAG funding allows our drug strike force to engage our communities on multiple levels to keep them safe while actively working to disrupt mid-to-upper-level drug trafficking organizations.”
Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force was awarded $281,456 to hire additional personnel, provide educational programming to keep the public aware and informed of illegal drugs and develop leads to combat the sale, distribution and transportation of drugs through confidential informants, intelligence sharing and surveillance.
“The mission of the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force is to support the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy’s strategy of reducing drug use in the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force Director David Thompson said. “The goal is to reduce and disrupt the importation, distribution and manufacturing of methamphetamine and other illegal drugs in the Pennyrile region and other parts of the Commonwealth of Kentucky; thereby, reducing the impact of illegal drugs and related violent criminal activity, which address the need to increase the safety of the citizens of Kentucky. Without the funding from the JAG grant, our drug task force would not exist.”
“Kentucky’s law enforcement agencies are the bedrock of our public safety network, and it is imperative they have the resources they need to do the job,” said Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Kerry Harvey. “We work closely with our law enforcement agencies to protect all Kentuckians. The Governor and I are committed to providing the resources necessary to suppress the availability of illegal drugs and fight addiction.”
“We’re excited that this grant will allow Goodwill to connect with people soon to be released from the Pike County Detention Center, because we know how challenging it is for people leaving incarceration to rebuild their lives,” said Goodwill Industries of Kentucky President and CEO Amy Luttrell. “Kentucky needs the talents of all her citizens, and we see many people who, with the right support, go on to become contributing members of their communities.”
For a full list of 2023-2024 JAG sub-award recipients, visit the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet’s website.
Enhancing public safety has been a priority of Gov. Beshear’s since his time as the state’s attorney general.
Recently, Gov. Beshear began to outline his budget plan for the upcoming state budget. The Governor’s public safety plan includes raising the current $4,300 law enforcement training stipend to an all-time high of $4,800 and providing grant funding to upgrade body armor to protect local law enforcement officers. The plan also moves all statewide law enforcement pension plans back to defined pension benefits (State Police, County Employees-Hazardous, Kentucky Employees-Hazardous). The Governor is also seeking a pay raise for law enforcement with an additional $2,500 raise for all KRS Chapter 16 employees, which includes all troopers, vehicle enforcement officers and a few other job classes.
In July, the Governor broke ground on the Jody Cash Multipurpose Training Facility. The new facility will be a 42,794-square-foot facility with a 50-yard, 30-lane firing range designed for officers to learn intensive and specialized training. Kentucky’s law enforcement officers will utilize this space upon its completion.
In July 2022, the Governor also announced additional steps to enhance public and officer safety, including a Western Kentucky training site feasibility study and an increased training stipend for law enforcement officers.
In June 2022, 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.
In May, Gov. Beshear announced that the Kentucky Counterdrug Program seized 142 pounds of fentanyl, enough to cause almost certain death for more than 28.9 million people. As of August, the team has now seized 171 pounds of fentanyl and more than 153,718 pills that could have made it into the hands of Kentuckians.