State budget bill includes funding for firearms training, Western Kentucky training facility, increased training stipend
RICHMOND, Ky. (July 15, 2022) –The recently enacted bipartisan state budget signed by Gov. Andy Beshear allows the commonwealth to take additional steps forward to make Kentucky a leader in public safety by enhancing law enforcement training, creating safer communities and improving the safety of both law enforcement officers and Kentuckians.
“We are reaffirming our commitment to the safety of Kentucky’s law enforcement community,” Gov. Beshear said. “This is why we are further enhancing the commonwealth’s law enforcement training abilities through the recently enacted state budget, allowing our officers to better safeguard our communities and themselves.”
The Commonwealth of Kentucky budget effective July 1 provides $28,536,000 for a multipurpose training facility to be built on the Department of Criminal Justice Training’s (DOCJT) Richmond campus, $2.5 million for a Western Kentucky site feasibility study for an additional law enforcement training campus and $3,737,000 to raise the annual training stipend for law enforcement officers to $4,300.
“DOCJT does great work in providing the commonwealth’s law enforcement officers with the best training available,” said Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Kerry Harvey. “The funding allocated in the most recent budget allows for this training to make even greater strides while continuing to be an example to the nation.”
New $28 Million Multipurpose Training Facility to Provide Officers with Real-Life Scenarios
In 2021, 948 law enforcement officers received a total of 23,640 hours of firearms training at the DOCJT McKinney Firing Range located in Richmond. An additional 768 officers used an off-campus, outdoor firing range in Boonesboro completing 24,936 training hours.
However, the last inspection of the McKinney Firing Range, facilitated by the Finance Division of Engineering and Contract Administration and completed by EOP Architectural Firm, revealed the building is at risk of catastrophic failure and has numerous safety hazards. The current facility is open air, lacking proper ventilation systems and is not ballistically sound. Therefore, nighttime training cannot effectively take place until the sun goes down, and the types of weapons and ammunition able to be used are limited.
“Replacing this facility will allow DOCJT to ensure training is delivered in a safe environment while also being able to expand the type of training offered,” said Gov. Beshear. “Officer safety is just as important as public safety and building this new facility will further secure the safety of officers both in training and in the field.”
The new $28 million multipurpose training facility will include a 50-yard, 30-lane firing range designed for officers to learn and practice de-escalation and interpersonal communication skills; critical decision making under stress; alternate response to potential deadly-force encounters; team tactics and less-lethal responses. These new features will save ammunition costs, allow training to be more intensive and specialized and ensure officers are able to protect the public and themselves. This gives the training academy more classroom and instructional space without causing any noise disruptions to the neighboring university and hospital campuses.
“This training space is an integral part of DOCJT’s skills training and will provide officers with opportunities for real-life scenarios unequaled across the commonwealth,” said DOCJT Commissioner Nicolai Jilek. “DOCJT serves more than 8,000 law enforcement officers across the commonwealth who depend on the range for 98 hours of state-mandated firearms training required for Basic Training certification. This will allow us to further the already comprehensive training that recruits and officers receive.”
Construction is expected to begin Spring 2023.
Western Kentucky Law Enforcement Training Academy Site Study Being Conducted
DOCJT provides basic training to city and county police officers, sheriffs’ deputies, university police and airport police throughout the state, excluding only the Louisville Metro Police Department, Lexington Police Department, Bowling Green Police Department and the Kentucky State Police, which each have independent academies.
To further increase the ability of Kentucky’s peace officers to protect the citizens of the commonwealth, the state is currently conducting a site feasibility study for DOCJT to potentially open an additional training facility in Western Kentucky. The initial goal of the study will provide an analysis of potential sites, examine land, space and budget requirements for necessary training components, and determine the overall funding necessary for development and operation of the training facility.
“A new facility would not replace the current DOCJT training facility in Richmond but would serve as another resource for Kentucky’s law enforcement to receive exceptional training to continue creating stronger communities for future generations to come,” Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Deputy Secretary Keith Jackson said. “For those law enforcement agencies located in the western half of the commonwealth, there is the added benefit of decreased transportation costs, while continuing to provide Kentucky’s peace officers with top-tier training closer to home.”
In conjunction with the Finance and Administration Cabinet, a request for proposals was issued and awarded to EOP Architects to conduct the study in Western Kentucky. EOP has begun the process and will have until the end of September to present their research.
Increased and Expanded Training Stipend for Law Enforcement Officers
“The sacrifices made by Kentucky’s law enforcement and their families on behalf of those they are sworn to protect are sacrifices that cannot be taken lightly,” said Gov. Beshear. “For this reason alone, it makes sense that the KLEFPF fund be expanded and increased, showing these officers the gratitude our state has for their service.”
During the 2021 General Assembly regular session, Gov. Beshear championed for an increase in the annual training stipend provided to sworn officers serving the commonwealth. State law mandates all sworn peace officers complete 40 hours of certified law enforcement training on an annual basis to remain certified. Upon completion of the annual training, peace officers are issued a monetary stipend. As of July 1, the annual training stipend has increased by $300 — raising the stipend from $4,000 to $4,300 for almost 8,000 officers.
In addition to the annual training stipend increase, Gov. Beshear signed House Bill 137, which expands the definition of police to include joint task force members, county attorney detectives, process servers for juvenile courts, local alcoholic beverage control investigators and commonwealth attorney detectives. By including these positions within the definition of police, their employing agencies are now able to participate in the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund, which administers the training stipends.
Beshear-Coleman Administration Commitment to Making Kentucky a National Leader in Public Safety
The Beshear-Coleman administration’s top priority is the safety of all Kentuckians. The public safety actions already taken by the Governor 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 to purchase the tools and resources that will not only allow them to protect our communities but will also ensure their own safety as they stand on the front lines every day.
Last month 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 branches of the U.S. Military 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 DOCJT.
In April, the Governor signed into law two pieces of legislation recently passed by the General Assembly to make historic investments in law enforcement by providing funds to KSP to recruit, train and retain the essential workforce needed to continue to provide the highest level of security to all Kentuckians. House Bill 259 ensures that all troopers will receive a $15,000 raise. Additionally, KSP’s starting pay for sworn officers will increase from $37,887 to $55,888 annually. By 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 CVE 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.
Gov. Beshear has championed legislative action like Senate Bill 64 and House Bill 254, making it easier for law enforcement to conduct undercover stings and increase the chances of stopping a horrific crime against a child from being facilitated through the internet. These actions will also provide law enforcement officers with the authority to charge offenders with harsher crimes to keep them away from the public, preventing further interactions with Kentucky’s most vulnerable population.