Recent Audit Offers a New Start With New Partners
In September, our law enforcement community gained some valuable insight into past practices at the Department of Criminal Justice Training – all thanks to a state audit our leadership team requested earlier this year.
The 47-page special examination, performed by State Auditor Mike Harmon, is not only a boost to public transparency, it also marks a clean break from the past and a new commitment to protecting state resources for law enforcement going forward.
This year, the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and DOCJT have undergone a pivotal transformation in leadership and values. One of our top priorities during this period has been ensuring that, under our watch, DOCJT operates with the highest degree of transparency and accountability possible.
Police agencies across Kentucky should know, on both the cabinet and department level, they have partners they can count on to safeguard their interests.
Unfortunately, as we transitioned to our new leadership team, we began to uncover evidence of poor management practices and questionable spending that had occurred prior to our administration.
We undertook an immediate and aggressive effort to identify and eliminate any abuse of public resources and to preserve funds raised for the benefit of law enforcement. However, we also recognized that a comprehensive review by an external organization would offer the best insight into past practices that needed reform.
That’s why we reached out to Auditor Harmon in April, requesting that his experts review policies at DOCJT along with policies regarding the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund, known as KLEFPF. Our request was buoyed by State Rep. Denny Butler, who had been seeking a review of the fund for more than a year.
According to the auditor’s report, KLEFPF was established in state law in 1972 to “assure the criminal laws of the commonwealth are enforced fairly, uniformly and effectively throughout the state by strengthening and upgrading local law enforcement; to attract competent, highly-qualified young people to the field of law enforcement and to retain qualified and experienced officers for the purpose of providing maximum protection and safety to the citizens of, and the visitors to, this commonwealth; and to offer a state monetary supplement for local law enforcement officers while upgrading the educational and training standards of such officers.”
Those are essential values in professional law enforcement, and we were frustrated and disappointed by the auditor’s findings, many of which matched our own discoveries during the transition period.
I want to be clear that this type of mismanagement will not be tolerated under the new administration. The law enforcement agencies who serve our communities with courage and dedication deserve better.
It’s also important to note that administrative reform can be a long and complicated process, and we ask that our partners in law enforcement bear with us as we continue making progress. Our team is still reviewing the details of the operation and unwinding some past practices.
In the meantime, corrective action already is underway to address most of the findings in the audit, and I would point to two major developments that demonstrate our commitment to this effort.
In May, Mark Filburn was appointed as the new DOCJT commissioner, bringing more than 30 years of experience in community policing, criminal investigation and law enforcement training. Filburn has worked tirelessly in aligning the department’s policies, personnel and resources with its statutory mission, and we applaud his expertise and dedication.
We also commend DOCJT’s front-line staff, who have greeted this audit with energy and professionalism. Their first-hand knowledge of operations has been essential in identifying abuses and overhauling policy, and they are eager to turn the page and embrace a new way of doing business.
Second, thanks to Gov. Matt Bevin’s commitment to using KLEFPF for the needs of law enforcement, certified peace officers across the state are receiving their first training-incentive raise in 15 years. The move affects nearly 7,300 Kentucky officers who are served by DOCJT.
That is how the KLEFPF fund is supposed to operate, and that is the type of approach that will define our values going forward.
It’s clear this audit was long overdue, and we appreciate the good feedback we’ve received from law enforcement. For those men and women who wear the badge, we also thank you for your service. And as you continue protecting our families and communities with honor, we look forward to continuing our services for you.