Mayoral candidates address Lexington’s police officer shortage

Currently, more than 80 positions are open in the Lexington Police Department.
Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 3:16 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Public safety is a hot topic in the Lexington race for mayor.

Currently, more than 80 positions are open in the Lexington Police Department. Some say the department can’t recruit and retain officers because of the pay.

The police department’s authorized strength is 639 and, as of October 10, there are 89 vacancies. They still have 26 recruits that are set to graduate from the police academy at the beginning of the new year.

In the race for Lexington Mayor, crime and public safety staffing have become major talking points in Councilman David Kloiber and Mayor Linda Gorton’s campaigns.

As the Lexington Police Department looks to fill its vacancies, Kloiber says we’re faced with a situation where crime is on the rise, and we have fewer officers than we’ve ever had before.

“Now we need to make sure that these jobs are incentivized, we need to make sure we are recruiting, and we need to use every tool to do that. That includes looking at laterals, making sure that we have new recruit buybacks on their contracts,” Kloiber said. “There’s a lot of things we can do to make these jobs incentivized that don’t necessarily cost us more money, but it has to be intentional.”

Mayor Gorton says overall crime in the city is down, but she says she has plans to address the issue of police retention and staffing.

“I think, before the council went on their break, they passed a resolution or motion to ask me and my administration to work with police to see if we can bring something back to them,” Gorton said. “We are doing that right now, and we’ll bring something to them on the 25th of October that will have to do with using some of the fund balance.”

Lexington police officers make just over $48,000 as a starting salary in the academy, but other police departments, in the area such as Richmond PD, make over $52,000 in the academy.

In the meantime, the Lexington Police Department tells us that they are ensuring areas are appropriately staffed to answer calls throughout the city.