Law enforcement officials hope to see expansion of KLEFPF benefits to more officers in the commonwealth
12/18/2015 07:33 PM
Kentucky law enforcement officials continue to look for help from the state legislature to expand the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund (KLEFPF) to include some 300 additional peace officers currently not covered, as well as an increase in the current $3,100 per year incentive pay for mandatory proficiency training, which has been frozen since 2001.
The Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund was founded in 1972 and is the result of a 1.8 percent surcharge, which was raised from 1.5 percent in 2010, on casualty insurance premiums. Seventy-two percent of the revenue raised is earmarked for the mandatory training of Kentucky law enforcement officers to meet statewide standards, including all expenses of the Department of Criminal Justice Training, all expenses for the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council and proficiency pay for licensed officers who successfully complete a statutorily-mandated additional 40 hours of proficiency training annually.
The remaining 28 percent of revenue is dedicated by statute to Kentucky’s firefighters through the Kentucky Firefighters Foundation Program Fund to be used for the same purpose.
Brian Steffen, assistant police chief and 19-year veteran of the Covington Police Department admits that without the fund, all cities and their police forces would be under heavy financial burdens.
“If this police department had to front the bill for all of the training that our officers receive every year, there would be no money left in the budget for anything else,” Steffen said.
However, the fund is not for all peace officers in the state.
The KLEFPF funds covers approximately 8,000 law enforcement officers around the state including municipal police officers, and sheriff’s deputies.
To the regret of many in the law enforcement community, there are approximately 300 certified peace officers from state agencies who have to go through all of the certification and training requirements, waiting to be added by statute to the KLEFPF rolls.
Kentucky Law Enforcement Council Executive Director Ken Schwendeman wants to see those 300 officers included in the future.
“That’s a little bit of an inequity, largely because it’s been a financial issue,” Schwendeman said. “If you have to use more of the surcharge revenue to pay for these officers, than that money isn’t available for other purposes.”
Those other purposes refer to the process of “sweeping” money that was allocated to KLEFPF, to the general fund. For more than three decades, the legislature has swept more than $100 million out of KLEFPF.
Last month, Rep. Denny Butler, R-Louisville, who switched from being a Democrat to a Republican, said in a statement that he was unhappy with Democratic leadership in his fight to secure more funds for police and firefighters. Butler also called for the first independent audit of the funds.
Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, chair of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, felt that by switching parties, Butler had lost power in having a say in KLEFPF.
“You know, that was really strange because he co-chaired the subcommittee that oversaw that,” Rand said. “So he gave up probably the maximum amount of power over that issue. I know he spoke to me early in the year when he had a bill that wasn’t going to move and I told him then, I said Rep. Butler, you have the gavel, call them over and make them answer the questions that you want to answer, but he’s given up that authority now, so I don’t really understand from that perspective.”
Butler released the following statement to Pure politics in response to Rand’s comments:
“I have repeatedly requested a full financial audit of the more than 100 million dollars in annual funds that support our police and firefighters,” Butler said. “ONLY the auditor’s office has the resources to conduct such an audit. Why won’t members of House Democrat leadership join me in this call for transparency and accountability? What are they afraid of?
“Chairman Rand says I left my leadership position,” Butler continued. “To the contrary, I was stripped of it by Speaker Stumbo when I exercised my conscience and joined a caucus that will support greater transparency for funds that support our brave men and women in law enforcement. Our police and firefighters deserve nothing less, and I will debate anyone on this issue anytime, anywhere.”
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