Citizens rise to the challenge for the ‘Cover the Cruiser’ fundraising effort
FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 21, 2023) – Last week, the Kentucky State Police (KSP) challenged Kentuckians to ‘Cover the Cruiser’ in support of Special Olympics Kentucky (SOKY). This year, the events raised $9,185.
“Special Olympics emulates what Team Kentucky is building each day,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “It is so special to watch our citizens and law enforcement partner together to build a better, safer and more inclusive Kentucky for all. Our commonwealth has a heart of gold, and we set aside our differences for our brothers, sisters, friends and neighbors in need. Thanks to everyone for your generous support.”
All 16 KSP posts participated by parking a state police cruiser at various public locations, and for a minimum donation of one dollar, citizens could place a custom SOKY sticker on the cruiser. Still, many Kentuckians donated more than the minimum.
“We are humbled by the support of our fellow citizens who always show up for ‘Cover the Cruiser’ events,” said KSP Commissioner Phillip Burnett. “Special Olympics Kentucky and KSP have a great partnership, and we are proud to support our athletes, whether fundraising or attending their competitions.”
The fundraising event began in 2020 when the annual Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run was canceled in response to the coronavirus pandemic. During the Torch Run, law enforcement members carry the Flame of Hope into the Special Olympic Games. The flame represents courage and the celebration of diversity.
The SOKY annual summer games will occur June 2-4, 2023, at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Ky.
“We are excited and honored that KSP participated in the Cover the Cruiser event for the fourth year in a row,” said SOKY President Trish Mazzoni. “In addition to raising funds to support our programs, KSP troopers also attend events like our State Basketball Tournament and our Summer Games to present awards to the athletes. The response from our athletes when they see a State Trooper in uniform presenting medals & ribbons, is awesome!”
The fundraiser developed into a friendly competition among Kentucky State Police posts. This year, Post 12 took top honors with a total of $1,462 raised.
“We are thankful to everyone in the Post 12 area who made a donation to this important cause,” said KSP Commander Todd Kidd. “We look forward to supporting our athletes and wish them luck in the summer games.”
In 2022, ‘Cover the Cruiser’ raised $11,442.94. Since the fundraising event began in 2020, KSP has raised $56,862.64 for SOKY.
For more information about the ‘Cover the Cruiser’ campaign or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit http://soky.org/coverthecruiser/.
Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports training program and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The organization has been serving the needs of our athletes and their families since 1970 and welcomes over 6,000 athletes in Kentucky.
Beshear-Coleman Administration Commitment to Making Kentucky a National Leader in Public Safety
The Beshear-Coleman administration’s top priority is the safety of all Kentuckians. The Governor’s public safety actions are creating safer communities and a better Kentucky now and into the future.
In March, Gov. Beshear signed House Bill 380 and House Bill 540 to further support law enforcement and increase public safety. These pieces of legislation expand the eligibility of potential peace officers to include individuals who are not yet 21 years of age but will reach this statutory requirement by the time certification is completed and help increase the number of school resource officers in the commonwealth’s private and parochial schools as well as public schools. The Governor’s signature on these bills increases the number of peace officers throughout the commonwealth and provides a safe learning environment at all the commonwealth’s schools so students can thrive, grow and reach their dreams.
To increase the safety of Kentucky’s children the Governor signed legislation that strengthens child abuse, neglect and human trafficking reporting requirements, clarifies the legal definition of incest and ensures that registered sex offenders cannot come within 1,000 feet of a high school, middle school, elementary school, preschool, publicly owned or leased playground, or licensed day care facility.
Since taking office, Gov. Beshear has awarded almost $8 million in grant funding to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in purchasing the tools and resources that will not only allow them to protect Kentucky communities but will also ensure their safety as they stand on the front lines every day. In September 2022, the administration announced nearly $2 million in grant funding to enhance public safety, curb the sale of illegal drugs and fight addiction.
In February of this year, Gov. Beshear and the KSP welcomed 103 cadets, the largest starting class since 2014, to the state police training academy. Due to the recent $15,000 salary increase for KSP sworn personnel and tireless efforts from the recruitment branch, sworn numbers for the agency have increased. KSP now employs 899 troopers, which is an increase of approximately 22% from 736 troopers in Nov. 2021.
The bipartisan state budget signed by Gov. Beshear and enacted last year allows the commonwealth to take additional steps to make Kentucky a leader in public safety by enhancing law enforcement training, creating safer communities and improving the safety of both law enforcement officers and Kentuckians. In July 2022, the Governor announced additional steps to enhance public and officer safety, including funding for a new firearms training facility, a Western Kentucky training site feasibility study and an increased training stipend for law enforcement officers.
In October 2022, the administration took another step forward in creating safer communities by awarding more than $350,000 in grant funding to prevent youth crime across the commonwealth.
In June 2022, Gov. Beshear announced the Military to Law Enforcement Program (M-2-LE). M-2-LE allows local law enforcement agencies in Kentucky to hire active service members within all U.S. military branches during their last 180 days of service. Upon being contracted by a law enforcement agency, the military member will continue to receive their pay and benefits from the U.S. Military while they undergo law enforcement training at the Department of Criminal Justice Training.
In April 2022, the Governor signed legislation he championed the previous year that funds a $15,000 raise for all troopers and a starting pay increase for sworn officers from $37,887 to $55,888 annually. In signing Senate Bill 209, Gov. Beshear established paid vacation, sick leave and holiday pay, as well as enhanced health insurance contribution payments for retired KSP troopers and commercial vehicle enforcement officers.
Also, as the Governor recommended in January 2022, $12.2 million was included in the state budget for KSP to purchase body cameras, which is the first time in the commonwealth’s history that funding has been allocated for this much-needed expense. Earlier this year, KSP demonstrated the new recording system, which will be distributed to approximately 780 sworn personnel.
In March 2022, the Governor and KSP announced that 71 cadets had graduated the agency’s basic training academy and are reporting for duty across the commonwealth with a focus on creating a better and safer Kentucky. Cadet Class 101 is the largest KSP basic training academy graduating class since 2014.
In 2021, the Governor allocated $500,000 for KSP to expand their recruitment efforts. KSP expanded the recruitment department by hiring minorities and females into the recruitment branch and developed a marketing initiative to reach individuals from Kentucky’s 120 counties. Innovative, digital ads were launched in unique venues, such as colleges and universities, outdoor billboards in rural communities, and social media and streaming television platforms. Additionally, KSP is partnering with Dr. Aaron Thompson of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education and Vikki Stone of the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet and working closely with retired minority KSP Troopers to further improve their diversity recruitment efforts.
During the 2022 legislative session, Gov. Beshear championed legislative action like Senate Bill 64 and House Bill 254, making it easier for law enforcement to conduct undercover stings and increase the chances of stopping a horrific crime against a child from being facilitated through the internet. These actions will also provide law enforcement officers with the authority to charge offenders with harsher crimes to keep them away from the public, preventing further interactions with Kentucky’s most vulnerable population.