Bill seeking to address law enforcement staffing concerns advances 

Bill will give local law enforcement agencies more flexibility

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) — One lawmaker hopes his bill will address some of the staffing issues facing local law enforcement agencies across the Commonwealth.

The Kentucky House of Representatives approved House Bill 414 by an 85-12 vote on Wednesday.

Primary sponsor Rep. John Blanton, R-Salyersville, said the bill will give local law enforcement agencies more flexibility to address the needs of employees and the communities they serve.

“House Bill 414 addresses these issues by amending various statutes relating to public safety to ensure our cities recruit and retain the best people,” Blanton said.

When it comes to staffing concerns, HB 414 would remove the age ceiling for applicants. Under current statute, applicants must be between 18 and 45 years old.

“Last summer, Louisville Metro Police reported more than 240 job openings. Lexington needed to hire more than 100 people,” Blanton said.

The bill would also allow local law enforcement agencies to operate under an 80-hour, 14-day work period instead of a 40-hour, seven-day work period.

“This change gives cities and our police departments options as they address the unique aspects of their communities,” Blanton added.

Another provision of the bill makes an effort to strengthen the reputation of police and fire departments by amending the disciplinary process to allow more time for complaints against law enforcement officers to be filed, Blanton said.

Under this provision, the window for a complaint to be filed would be extended from three days to 10 days. The bill would then give the mayor, city manager or legislative body 10 days instead of five days to file charges if there is probable cause.

Two lawmakers, Rep. Buddy Wheatley, D-Covington, and Rep. Jeffery Donohue, D-Fairdale, expressed concerns about the 80-hour, 14-day work week provision.

Blanton confirmed the bill does not set a limit on how many hours in a day an officer can work. In response, Wheatley referred to studies that show requiring an officer to work more than 10 hours a day is not healthy or safe.

“It’s actually going to cause some people to leave the service if they are forced to work more than 10 hours,” Wheatley added.

Blanton, a retired Kentucky State Police officer, said the goal of the change is to give departments more flexibility if an incident occurs that requires a long investigation.

“I bring you this bill because I know it will benefit our public safety personnel, our local governments and the citizens many have sworn to protect and serve,” Blanton said.

HB 414 will now go before the Senate for consideration.

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