From Prison to Prestige

In 1959, a $450,000 building project was unveiled regarding a new state of the art facility that would house the Kentucky State Police (KSP) training academy, crime laboratory, and the Frankfort barracks. Although primitive by today’s standards, it was the first time that a designated building would actually house, feed, and train Kentucky State Troopers. In 1982 we moved from those cramped quarters into our current structure, which was originally a Ramada Inn hotel. Although an improvement to the deteriorating quarters we had called an academy for nearly twenty years, it has always lacked the necessities for the state of the art training our troopers need and deserve.

When I was appointed KSP Commissioner one of my goals for this agency was to replace our academy with a state of the art facility capable of meeting the challenges we will face in the coming decades. That goal has been recognized and championed by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown since the early days of this administration. Nonetheless, we all realized that a project of this scope and magnitude would be extremely difficult during these tough economic times.

However, sometimes opportunity presents itself during trying times. Through the support, vision, and leadership of Governor Beshear and Secretary Brown, I’m pleased to announce that the goal of a new Kentucky State Police Academy will soon become a reality. Earlier this month, Governor Beshear held a press conference to announce the closing of one of its thirteen prisons in the Commonwealth. The Frankfort Career Development Center (FCDC) is a 205-bed minimum security detention facility located in Frankfort, Ky. Plans to close this state owned facility stem from projections of a declining prison population and the obvious cost savings associated with the closure. During the press conference, the Governor also outlined plans to convert this incredible facility into a Kentucky State Police training campus.

To provide some historical background, I was approached by Secretary Brown a few months ago regarding this possibility after Kentucky Department of Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson submitted a proposal to close the facility. Secretary Brown and I immediately realized the potential of this opportunity to transform this facility into a first class academy for our agency. Although I will be providing more information in future blogs, the following facts are provided to you regarding this site:

• The campus is located at one of the highest elevation points in Frankfort and encompasses approximately 362 acres.
• The dormitory complex is in excess of 22,000 square feet and can currently house 205 individuals
• The cafeteria can currently feed over 100 personnel at a time.
• An administration building encompasses nearly 10,000 square feet for staff office space.
• 3000 square foot weightlifting and aerobic building.
• A multi-purpose building totaling 4885 square feet that will be converted into a primary classroom.
• A laundry facility where all of our towels and bed linens can be cleaned on site. (We currently pay an outside vendor for this)
• In addition to other buildings, the complex currently has a running track, basketball court and softball field.
• KSP Headquarters will remain in its current location with expansion opportunities to improve efficiency of like services.

In addition to the obvious advantages for our agency, the closure will result in reducing costs for the Department of Corrections while moving low risk inmates into vacant jail space at the county level. This closure will not result in the loss of any jobs for correctional employees. This move is truly a win-win for all involved and the citizenry that we serve.

In 1995, the state’s prison population was around 5,700; by 2010 Kentucky was housing more than 20,700 prisoners – and no surprise, state spending for corrections went from $140 million in 1990 to $440 million by 2000.

To say that we are excited about this project is an understatement! I believe that this is the largest initiative that we have ever been involved in during my tenure with the Kentucky State Police. The possibilities are limitless and will change the way KSP does business for decades to come. I applaud the support of Governor Beshear and Secretary Brown on providing our agency this unique opportunity for growth and development.