Many Kentucky police departments struggle with recruiting

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FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky State Police hope a change in guidelines will help them find more recruits.


Anyone who possesses a high school diploma or GED, and has three years of work experience can now apply to be a trooper thanks to new hiring qualifications established by the state legislature.

Before, candidates were required to have 60 hours of college credit, two years of active duty military experience, or two years of certified police officer experience. These qualifications will still apply, but as a bonus for applicants in the selection process.

“All applicants still have to go through a rigorous hiring process that includes a written test, physical test, oral interview, polygraph exam, a very thorough background investigation, medical exam, and psychological exam,” said Sgt. Brad Arterburn, commander of the KSP Recruitment Branch.

Sgt. Arterburn also says all applicants who are accepted “still have to complete the 24-week Kentucky State Police Academy, one of the toughest law enforcement training programs in the country.”

Recruitment has been a difficult process for many police departments across Kentucky.


The last application process for the Lexington Police Department closed April 3. The department got just under 1,000 applicants that netted a recruitment class of 30 that will start this fall. Department spokeswoman Brenna Angel says 1,000 is on target with the number of candidates the department typically gets; however, they reached that amount in a shorter time frame than normal for this latest recruiting effort.

Angel said, “We are getting a lot of applicants, but not all of them go through all the steps. They have to take a written exam, physical test and do an interview (in that order) before they are considered. And some just never come for the test. We offer multiple opportunities to take it, and no law enforcement experience is necessary.”

A college degree isn’t a requirement. Applicants can earn an associate degree just by going through the academy.

Angel says the department is working to recruit diversely and get female applicants. They’ll likely hold another hiring process soon for the next recruitment class.

You can read more on the Lexington Police Department’s application process HERE.


Officer Kevin Grimes with the Nicholasville Police Department says getting enough recruits has been “tough.” He said some of it probably has to do with the recent national climate surrounding officers and retirement policies.

The department recently changed its tattoo policy from ‘no visible tattoos’ to a ‘case-by-case’ policy. Grimes says it’s because they’re trying to adapt to the current times and trends and don’t want to lose a good recruit over a tattoo.

You can read more on the Nicholasville Police Department’s application process HERE.


Sgt. B.J. O’Donnell with the Richmond Police Department says it’s “tougher to attract people.” He says the applicant numbers over the last year, or so, have been steady, but it’s a decline from the past several years.

The department’s education policy is that applicants must have a high school or GED. Sgt. O’Donnell says their tattoo policy has sometimes been a hurdle recently, but not something the department hasn’t been able to overcome.

The last hiring process for the Richmond Police Department closed May 3. They’ll open another process this fall.

You can read more on the Richmond Police Department’s application process HERE.

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