Law Enforcement Careers in Kentucky

Kentucky is an amazing place to live and work and has historically been known for a relatively low crime rate, but low crime rates certainly don’t mean no crime at all. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program, Kentucky reported 9,701 incidents of violent crime in 2019. Although that’s a drop of about .2% from 2018 numbers, that’s a lot of crime for a state thought of as having a low crime rate, and it’s a lot for the state’s law enforcement community to deal with.

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Anybody with the dedication and skill it takes to rise to the challenge of combatting crime, and who can meet the education, experience and background requirements of state, county and local law enforcement agencies, can join in to help make Kentucky’s communities safer for everybody.

Jobs with the Kentucky State Police

The Kentucky State Police is divided into three divisions: Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, Operations, and Technical Services. Included in these divisions are special enforcement troops and forensic units.

The KSP patrols the state’s highways and interstates, enforcing traffic laws and providing assistance to citizens and other law enforcement agencies.

Prospective KSP troopers must be in good shape physically and mentally and must have a basic education that includes 60 college credits or an associate’s degree from an accredited university or college. An alternative to this education requirement may be substituted by a high school diploma, along with either two years of active military service or two years of experience as a law enforcement officer.

Jobs with County Sheriff’s Departments in Kentucky

Outside of city limits in unincorporated areas and rural communities, Kentucky state law is enforced by the many sheriff’s offices that operate at the county level. Having a county-wide jurisdiction means they also work to support municipal police forces even within the cities and townships of the state.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office

The Jefferson County’s Sheriff’s Office merged with the Louisville Police Department in 2003. Since then the sheriff’s department has been responsible for prosecution assistance, court services, the serving of official papers, and outreach in local schools. Prerequisites for employment include passing polygraph, drug, and psychological evaluations.

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Fayette County Sheriff’s Office

The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office merged with the Lexington Police Department about 45 years ago. Today, the department is responsible for court services and tax collection and has a renowned inmate labor program that has beautified the county’s parks. Potential candidates for employment must have knowledge of and meet the Peace Officer Professional Standards.

Warren County Sheriff’s Office

The stated goal of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and its deputies is to ensure that everyone can enjoy a safe neighborhood where they can thrive and be free. To this end, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office provides 24-hour law enforcement services to the county’s 110,000 citizens.

Municipal Law Enforcement Agencies: Police Jobs in Kentucky

A high school diploma or GED and a clean background are required when applying to all police forces within Kentucky. Post-secondary college credits and/or previous law enforcement or military experience are also preferred among many police departments in Kentucky.

Louisville Police Department

The Louisville PD major crimes unit investigates homicides, financial crimes, robberies, and crimes against children. They have a forensics unit with special training in evidence collection from crime scenes with an additional video and photo squad. Applicants seeking jobs with the Louisville PD must provide an official college transcript of 60 semester hours.

Lexington Police Department

The Lexington Police Department is home to 630 sworn officers and about 150 civilian personnel.

Owensboro Police Department

The Owensboro Police Department’s patrol officers are responsible for patrolling the 18.5 square miles of Owensboro and conducting preliminary criminal investigations. Anybody seeking employment as a police officer must have either an associate degree in a career-related field, two years of active military service, three years of previous law enforcement experience, or some combination of these.

Bowling Green Police Department

This Bowling Green Police Department works closely with the local community, sponsoring programs that include citizens and junior police academies, neighborhood watch, and teen driver safety resources. Ideal applicants will have at least one of the following: 60 college credits, four years of active or reserve military service, or previous experience as a certified law enforcement officer.

Covington Police Department

Founded in 1898, the Covington Police Department is the largest law enforcement agency in Northern Kentucky and today has more than 100 sworn officers. The police officers of the Covington PD provide a full range of services throughout Covington’s 19 neighborhoods.

Police officer candidates must have either 30 college credits, two years of active and consecutive military service, or two years of previous employment as a law enforcement officer.

Kentucky Law Enforcement Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Kentucky law enforcement officers earned an average salary of $46,910 as of May 2021.

The following police/sheriff’s department salary data was sourced from May 2021 BLS stats (early career = 25th percentile, senior/late career = 90th percentile).

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Police Officer Salaries

The starting salary for police officers is largely consistent throughout Kentucky, with the largest police departments all reporting starting salaries of between $40,000 – $48,000.

Bowling Green Police Department

The police officers with the Bowling Green Police Department earn an early career salary of $40,420 and a top salary of $54,820.

Lexington Police Department

Lexington PD recruits earn a salary of about $47,310. Officers with bachelor’s degrees earn an additional yearly stipend.

Louisville Metro Police Department

New police officer recruits with the Louisville Metro Police Department earn about $48,290.

Owensboro Police Department

New police officers with the Owensboro Police Department earn a starting salary of about $40,430. The top pay for these law enforcement professionals is $60,680.

Sheriff’s Deputy Salaries

Sheriff’s deputy salaries, while not publicly available in most cases, tend to be lower than their police officer counterparts working throughout the state in municipal police departments. In non-metropolitan areas throughout the state, early career sheriff’s deputies earn about $37,000.

State Trooper and State Police Salaries

Early career troopers with the Kentucky State Police earn $38,130. Troopers here earn a 10% salary increase every two years, with a maximum salary of $60,570. Higher ranking positions here come with larger salary ranges.

2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for police and sheriff’s patrol officers. Job growth projections from the US Department of Labor-sponsored resource, Projections Central. Figures are based on state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed August 2022.

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