LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A new study ranks Kentucky as one of the worst states to be a police officer.
According to the report published by personal finance website, WalletHub, Kentucky is the third worst state for police officers. The study looked into quality of life, police protections, and income.
“We've got some of the most highly trained officers in the country, yet we don't invest in them when it comes to pay and benefits,” president of Louisville's Fraternal Order of Police and LMPD officer, Nicolai Jilek said the low ranking comes as no surprise. “Most departments have not had any specific pay increase much less barely being able – if not keeping up with inflation.”
Jilek points to the state's lack of investment in officers when it comes to pay and benefits. He highlighted LMPD not receiving functional raises in the past 15 years.
“When you're under a lot of pressure and also a lot of scrutiny, you're not getting paid very well, and you have a lot of personal and professional liability there, that's really hard to attract somebody to come into the job,” Jilek said.
Jilek said recruitment across the state has been a challenge for years and is only getting worse. In Louisville's recent class, he said they lost about 50 percent of their recruits.
“This is also a significant thing a lot of the departments, if they are lucky enough to hire somebody, they don't really hang around very long until they leave for another department that pays them better,” Jilek said.
In WalletHub's report, Kentucky was ranked top five for low violent crime rate.
Jilek said he believes that is thanks to highly trained officers, but is still worried about the state's future. Under-funding pensions and mismanagement he added, is also a concern.
“We're looking at police departments that are no longer going to have veterans and you're looking at police departments that are going to have constant turnover,” Jilek said.
Jilek said some of the departments are short on staff which causes a challenge to hire people. He said the state academy that trains new-hires are so backed up, sometimes it takes them a year to be slated to even start enrollment at the academy.
“We got guys that enter in this profession and they don’t really have a veteran to guide them or model for them,” Jilek said. “I think it’s just going to increase that burnout rate and then communities are just going to suffer.”