From Hodgepodge to Streamlined
For many officers and public safety dispatchers who are recent graduates of the respective academies, the anticipation and excitement of beginning ones career is at the top of their “to-do” list.
Serious thought of a career path had not yet sunk in, but thanks to a couple of Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training Instructors, that changed in the early 2000s.
The Office of Kentucky Law Enforcement Council Support Career Development Program provides structure to the training process through career tracking. However, the structure wasn’t always there.
The KLEC Career Development Program came about because of two instructors whose keen eyes noticed a disturbing trend.
“Back in the late 1990s, then DOCJT instructors J.R. Brown and Ron Godsey noticed many of their students were taking classes that had little to do with what the officers were actually doing on the street,” said Joe Boldt, OKLECS program coordinator.
Soon thereafter, the pair started researching training methods.
“They thought it would be better if there could be more congruence between subject matter learned and actual career paths,” Boldt said. “They began searching the country for concepts and programs that would address this dilemma and found seven states that had some sort of Career Development Program for police. So Kentucky became the eighth.”
Prior to CDP, Brown said training across the state was hodgepodge, and sorely lacked direction.
“It was hit or miss for the agencies,” recalled Brown, who retired in August 2016. “There was no incentive for them to have a career path. More than likely at that time, you’d go to teach in a class and you would have a detective in a fairly new patrol class, and he didn’t need that class.”
Godsey, who retired as investigations manager in 2012, said the reason the pair began “kicking around the idea” was twofold.
“We were teaching in-service classes around the state, and we just got to kicking it around that we felt like the officers needed an opportunity to improve themselves,” Godsey said. “It didn’t matter if it was crime scene (investigations) or patrol; they needed some kind of career path (training). We were looking at it in two ways. First, it would give officers an opportunity … to progress in something they were interested in doing. Second, once you’ve got these people trained, we could use them as part-time instructors. If we were teaching a class in their area, and we needed some help, we could give them a call.”
However, the process wasn’t a simple one. Godsey said he and Brown made several pitches to the commissioner’s office before the idea began to take root.
“We sent it down to the commissioner twice, and it went nowhere,” Godsey said. “Nobody was interested. That was just the times. Some time after former Commissioner (John) Bizzack came to DOCJT, J.R. said, ‘Let’s try it again. What the heck?’ We wanted to keep the idea out there. They paid attention and set up a group to kick it around and from there, they set up a committee, and put Joe Boldt in charge of it.”
Godsey said the committee came up with the program’s curriculum.
“The committee had other officers involved so they could say, ‘What do we really want this course to be?” Godsey said. “How many hours and what does the subject matter need to be? That came about through the committee.”
After several years of research and pitching the idea, Gov. Paul Patton signed the Career Development Program into law in 2003.
Since the program’s inception, personnel from 313 agencies in Kentucky have gone through the program and more than 4,000 certificates have been awarded to personnel in agencies statewide.
The program was rolled out in a staggered format in the first year, with 10 to 15 counties coming on board each month. By the end of 2003, all 120 counties were on board with the program.
OKLECS oversees training for Kentucky’s four academies –
DOCJT, Kentucky State Police, Louisville Metro Police Department and the Lexington Police Department. All courses, regardless where offered, must be OKLECS-approved.
Brown and Godsey are pleased with how far the program has come since they formulated the idea in the late 1990s.
“It’s gone further than I thought it would,” Godsey said. “Many departments gave some pretty good raises and bonuses once they got certified.”
“I knew once it was organized it would be a success,” Brown said. “I give Joe (Boldt) a huge amount of credit to where the program is right now. He grabbed hold of it and took it to the next level. It has been a surprise to see how well it has worked out.”