Lawmakers Hear Testimony on Officer Reciprocity

The Kentucky Law Enforcement Council (KLEC) testified at Friday’s Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary about proposed regulation changes that will help city police departments struggling to hire officers.

Senator Danny Carroll (R-Paducah) highlighted the situation that has plagued departments across Kentucky. He stated that he was informed of a situation where a qualified out-of-state candidate with years of experience could not be certified in Kentucky because of a technicality.

KLEC Executive Director John Moberly explained the problem and the Council’s proposed steps to help prevent the situation from impacting departments in the future. “We recognized very quickly that the candidate was an outstanding officer,” Mobley said. “We followed the letter of the law, the letter of the regulations that require a mathematical formula be applied, and we were unable to bring this great officer into Kentucky because of the way that was initially structured.”

Moberly said the equation only gives officers 50 credit hours for every year of service outside of Kentucky. Candidates also receive points for the type of training received in their previous state. The current process also calls for drug, polygraph, fitness, and mental suitability testing.

Proposed changes to the reciprocity regulation would give flexibility to the hiring department if the candidate had three years of experience before applying to work in Kentucky.

“We have all heard, with some certain states within these United States, that officers are not very welcomed in those states these days. We certainly want to make the atmosphere in Kentucky such that these men and women know that they are welcome in our commonwealth, and we value them. We value their experience, and we value good officers who want to come to our state. I think these efforts will help,” said Carroll.

Moberly also described efforts to streamline reciprocity hires of military service members who apply for law enforcement career openings.

KLEC created the Military to Law Enforcement Program (M-2-LE)to streamline recruiting, hiring, and training for active-duty military personnel and veterans. The initiative uses SkillBridge to develop cooperative agreements between law enforcement agencies and the Department of Criminal Justice Training (DOCJT). Qualifying military candidates receive priority in academy assignments, which shortens the wait time between hiring and an officer hitting the street.

While thanking committee members for listening to the proposed changes, Moberly also highlighted the benefits of Senate Bill 80, a Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) initiative the General Assembly passed in 2021 that strengthens police decertification laws.

“We are very grateful for that,” Moberly said. “I don’t know if the legislators recognize what they provided, but they gave law enforcement, they gave the Council, a tool that maybe in my past 30 years in law enforcement is probably one of the most impactful pieces of legislation that I think most of us have seen. What it does is it gives law enforcement more resources and more ability to remove those officers who don’t deserve to wear the badge.”

Recently, the KLC Board of Directors voted to work with DOCJT and legislators to remove delays in training of new law enforcement officers.