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Kentucky State Police Welcome 45 New Faces

Josh James

A fresh class of Kentucky State Troopers took their oath of office Thursday. The newly sworn-in graduates of the KSP Academy enter the force at a time of heightened scrutiny on law enforcement.

Brass buffed and shoes polished after months of grueling training exercises that weeded out 25 of their classmates, rows of cadets chanted the words that mark their official entry into the state police ranks.

"I am a Kentucky State Trooper!" the group yelled in unison, answering "Sir, yes sir" to their dismissal.

And while the preparation for this day included more than 1,000 of classroom and field study in weapons training, defensive tactics, crowd control, and subjects too numerous to list, the atmosphere in which they’ll exercise those skills is one that includes new variables – thanks to the advent of smartphones.

KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer says incidents like the most recent controversy over the forceful removal of a black high school student from a South Carolina classroom caught on video haven’t led to any major changes in the training process, but that doesn’t mean it’s not on the minds of new recruits.

"We're very cognizant of the sentiment that's going on, but I think if you look at some of the events that transpired that were tragic in nature this year of some of the troopers that we lost, I think the outpouring that you saw on the route to the cemetery and at the funeral home itself was pretty substantial and pretty overwhelming," he said. "I think it showed that there's still an incredible amount of support out there for the Kentucky State Police."

At the same time, while a 2015 Gallup survey found that while a majority of Americans – 52 percent – express a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the police, that number also tied the pollster’s 22-year low.

Add to that challenge the stress of joining a department that – even with the addition of 45 new names on its roster – still faces a manpower shortage of more than 100 troopers. Brewer says this particular class was kept small on purpose as the KSP tested out its new $4.5 million dollar training facility in Frankfort.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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