(LEX 18) — Governor Andy Beshear hopes to make a "historic investment" in law enforcement.
At the Kentucky State Police Training Academy on Tuesday, Beshear announced part of his budget proposal. In it, he proposes a pay bump for troopers, KSP dispatchers, and funding for body cameras.
The plan would change starting pay for troopers from about $40,000 a year to $55,000. Current sworn troopers and officers would also receive the increase.
The plan also boosts dispatcher starting pay from $24,000 per year to $32,000.
Gov. Beshear said the increase is necessary because KSP currently ranks 74th in the state among law enforcement agencies for starting pay. It also ranks last in pay compared to state police agencies in seven neighboring states.
The agency also struggles with recruiting women and minorities which he says is essential in helping rebuild public trust in police.
“It is not right that, when compared to our seven neighboring states, KSP ranks last in cadet pay, newly commissioned trooper pay, and tenured pay,” Gov. Beshear said. “Kentuckians, as well as other local law enforcement agencies, rely on KSP to keep our commonwealth safe, and our troopers have more than earned pay that is comparable to their brothers and sisters in law enforcement across the state and nation.”
Gov. Beshear stressed the importance of making KSP more competitive in recruitment and retention. The agency currently has 736 full-time sworn troopers. That is about 273 short of where the agency was 15 years ago.
To also help with public trust, Gov. Beshear is requesting millions of dollars to fund about 600 body cameras for troopers. And he said there is more work to be done.
"I believe that we've got to better fund law enforcement itself," he said. "We've got to ensure we've got the appropriate training. Our recruitment office is so important and is already showing gains in making sure the Kentucky State Police looks more like the population that it polices."
The governor's proposal will go to lawmakers for consideration. The General Assembly ultimately decides where the money goes.