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NEW REPORT: The Case for COPS 3.0


This January, we debuted our District Data Dashboard. The Dashboard tracks six county-level data points that we feel must be improved for Kentucky to move forward. Five of those data points we tracked before. This year, we added a sixth – full-time, local law enforcement officers per 1000 residents.

We found that the state averages 1.2 full-time, local officers per 1000 residents. We also found that 23 counties – nearly a fifth of the counties in the state – had 0.0 full-time, local officers per 1000 residents. That means that these counties are policed either entirely by the Kentucky State Police, entirely by part-time law enforcement officers, or some combination of the two.

The blacked out counties are the ones with 0.0 full-time, local law enforcement officers per 1,000 residents. Find the full interactive data set HERE.

We have also previously discussed the importance of policing in crime control and public safety. In addition to police strategy, the number of officers is critical to that end.

Looking Kentucky’s two largest police agencies shows a disturbing trend – both are shrinking.

Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD):

LMPD is the largest police agency in the state and is tasked with the protection of public safety in the state’s largest city. For much of the last ten years, the number of LMPD officers has remained fairly consistent. However, from Fiscal Year 2018 to Fiscal Year 2019 the police force shrank by 198 officers – nearly 16% – reaching its lowest level in more than 20 years.

Kentucky State Police (KSP):

KSP is the second largest policing agency in Kentucky. The agency was formed in 1948 to replace the Kentucky Highway Patrol. KSP has jurisdiction across the state of Kentucky and is a full-service police agency. In 2008, with the swearing in of the 86th cadet class, KSP had 961 sworn Troopers. By 2019, that number was down to 809.

Unfortunately, recruitment and retention of law enforcement officers is a problem not just in our two largest agencies, but all throughout the Commonwealth and the country. This situation is a ticking public safety time bomb.

In response to the problems of officer recruitment and retention Pegasus Institute has published The Case for COPS 3.0. The report examines the two previous iterations of federal COPS funding and makes the argument that a third round could help alleviate the problems faced by state and local police departments around the county in recruitment and retention.

Read the full report HERE.

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