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Gov. Beshear, Kentucky State Police Celebrate Black History Month

Bill Stephens

February 1st, 2022

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 1, 2022) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear and the Kentucky State Police (KSP) are joining the nation in celebration of February being Black History Month by taking time to honor the history African Americans have played in the legacy of KSP providing exceptional public safety to all Kentuckians.

Black History Month is an annual celebration held in February honoring the achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. 

“This is a time to honor those who paved the way,” said Gov. Beshear. “It is also a time for all of us to reflect, to acknowledge, to look back and in doing so continue to build on the strides made to ensure diversity within Kentucky law enforcement.”

During Black History Month, KSP will highlight the transformational work African American employees accomplish across the commonwealth by sharing their stories and celebrating their heritage. These stories will be shared via KSP’s social media platforms throughout February. 

“Black History Month is American History Month,” said KSP Commissioner Phillip Burnett, Jr. “Our agency has been and continues to be impacted by the contributions of our African American employees.” 

The KSP Academy graduated its first African American trooper in 1968. Millard West, at age 25, became a state trooper of Cadet Class 37. Photo provided by KSP.

In the mid-1960s, integration of KSP was initiated by former KSP Commissioner Ted Bassett and Governor Ned Breathitt. Bassett was very progressive during the period of civil unrest, and he petitioned former Gov. Breathitt to create a training program that considered the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to train law enforcement on minority relations in our communities. The KSP Academy graduated its first African American trooper in 1968. Millard West, at age 25, became a state trooper of Cadet Class 37. 

“We are fortunate to have employees from numerous ethnicities, including African Americans,” said Commissioner Burnett. “Our agency is better today because Trooper West paved the way for others to follow.”

Another mark in KSP history was made in 1998 when Tina McAfee became the first African American female state trooper. While McAfee is not the first female cadet to be accepted into KSP’s training academy; she was the first to complete the required twenty-two weeks of training and serve the commonwealth as a KSP state trooper. McAfee was 27 years old when she graduated Cadet Class 75 and was assigned to Post 6 Dry Ridge.

Trooper Katan Parker graduated from the academy in 2019 and is currently assigned to Post 3 in Bowling Green.

“Black History Month helps me to remember those before me who forged the way and not only voiced their opinions but took action and worked hard for equality,” said Trooper Parker. “I believe it is important for us all to see how things once were, so that we realize how far our country has come and begin to appreciate and embrace.”

In the previous state budget, the Governor allocated $500,000 to help increase KSP’s recruitment efforts by developing a marketing initiative to reach individuals from Kentucky’s 120 counties. Digital ads were launched in unique venues, such as colleges and universities, outdoor billboards in rural communities, social media and streaming television platforms. Additionally, KSP is working closely with retired minority troopers to further improve their diversity recruitment efforts.

“Through this funding, we launched the ‘Be the Difference’ recruitment campaign, which resulted in the largest reporting academy class since 2015,” said KSP Recruitment Branch Commander Sgt. Michael Murriell. “However, our agency is not satisfied with the current level of diversity, and it remains a priority to recruit a dedicated, qualified workforce that best reflects the diverse communities of the commonwealth.”

KSP’s recruitment branch recently finished accepting application for the upcoming cadet class 102, which is slated to begin June 2022.

In addition to these efforts, the Governor announced historic investments to improve public safety, retention, and accountability in his recent budget proposal. His two-year budget plan provides millions of dollars to fund competitive salaries for KSP troopers, officers, and telecommunicators, supply body cameras for KSP sworn troopers, and increase the peace officer training stipend. Read more here and here.

The mission of KSP is to promote public safety through service, integrity and professionalism using partnerships to prevent, reduce and deter crime and the fear of crime, enhance highway safety through education and enforcement, safeguard property and protect individual rights.

This year, the number one priority for KSP is creating a better Kentucky by making the commonwealth’s streets safer, communities stronger and the nation more secure by providing exceptional law enforcement made up of a diverse workforce. For more information about career opportunities with KSP visit the website.

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