In the aftermath of Trooper Cameron Ponder’s murder, I was asked by the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection to research safety enhancements that might provide additional protection for our agency. Specific interest was centered on bullet resistant laminates for automobile glass. I testified yesterday concerning our findings and the following is a summation of my recommendations.
The first distinction that must be made is between bullet proof glass and bullet resistant glass. In reality, no glass is truly bullet proof. Even glass that is used by the Secret Service and high level dignitary protection details can be compromised depending on the caliber of weapon and ammunition type. Thus our efforts focused on laminates that claim to provide a level of protection on side windows, not windshields. After contacting the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), no definitive information was gleaned regarding the validity of such a product. A national survey revealed that no police agency in North America was currently utilizing such a laminate. Ultimately, it was determined that this technology is in its’ infancy and has yet to be tested, developed and researched to provide any meaningful protection for our personnel.
The remainder of my testimony centered on safety proposals that might be of assistance to our protection. The following is a list of those issues:
• A state-of-the-art indoor firing range at our new academy campus for enhanced training. Since our inception in 1948, the Kentucky State Police has never owned or controlled its’ own firing range. This facility would allow us to operate and train under varying conditions throughout the calendar year. Estimated cost: $2.1 million dollars.
• An infusion of 250 marked cruisers into our fleet each of the next two fiscal years. Currently half of our marked fleet has over 100,000 miles, 136 of which have over 150,000 miles. Estimated cost: $7,145,000 each fiscal year.
• Flashlights mounted on our existing Glock side arms. This relatively new technology mirrors the same concept as we currently utilize on most of our shotguns and automatic rifles. Freeing up the officer’s weak hand during low light tactical situations would greatly enhance our safety. Our current holsters would have to be replaced adding to the cost of this proposal. Estimated cost: $179,000
• A two prong pay raise for all Chapter 16 sworn personnel. Troopers currently rank next to last on our neighboring state salary survey for beginning pay, and fifteenth when compared to starting salaries with in-state local law enforcement agencies. Commercial Vehicle Officers rank out even lower. To better compete in our recruitment and retention efforts, I have asked for a $4000 across the board raise for all sworn personnel. Estimated cost: $7,840,000 annually.
Additionally, our pay scale goes relatively flat after reaching the ‘Senior Trooper/Officer’ status. I have proposed a series of longevity raises to rectify this situation. These incremental 5% raises would occur at the 10, 15, and 20 year mark, mirroring and building on the existing senior trooper statute. These proposals will help us attract and retain experienced personnel as we move into the future. Estimated cost: $300,000-$400,000 per fiscal year.
It should be noted that these requests are in our current budgetary proposals and are exclusive of any across the board raises that we and our Chapter 18 personnel may receive. It is also independent of the proposal to increase the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund (KLEFPF) from $3100 to $4000 annually of which I fully support.