It is my oath never to betray
The badge that represents my community
My integrity, my character, and the public trust.
I will have the courage to hold myself
And others accountable for our actions.
I will uphold the Constitution and community I serve,
So help me God.
The words of the Kentucky Police Academy Oath bind the graduates to an ideal and an entirely new reality in their lives. When a police officer takes this oath of honor, he is forever bound to the mission of protecting and serving the citizens of the state to the best of his ability. This is a mission that he or she knows will lead them to pay a personal cost but could also require the cost of their life.
Recently we attended a graduation at the Kentucky Police Academy where the sacrifice required to become a police officer was made clear. The commitment that these graduates accept is a life-altering act of service to this state.
While we sleep in peace, police officers are vigilantly on duty to give us that privilege. We currently live in a culture that takes the sacrifices of police officers for granted. Would that our society will once again recognize and respect the critically important service they provide each of us and the centrality of the rule of law to the health of our communities.
The Kentucky Police Academy annually trains 9,000 of our state’s finest officers to serve and protect the citizens of the state with their lives. Their oath the state emphasizes the integrity, character, and public trust that is pertinent to their position. These officers are expected to objectively investigate every case, despite their personal opinions and beliefs. This separation of personal and professional goals is a task difficult for each and every one of us, yet these officers do it without fail every day.
Their calling requires the courage to hold people accountable for their actions along with the discernment to be empathetic so that they treat citizens with respect. Without respect for the rule of law there would be total chaos across every level of society. Policeman are an integral link in the chain that ensures the rule of law is also respected. The bravery required to conduct their duties, sometimes in the face of uncooperative or even defiant suspects, is a trait that may be foreign to those who don’t walk their beat each day.
This academy trains the Kentucky city and county police departments, telecommunications, coroners, sheriff’s offices, university police, state motor vehicle enforcement officers, airport police and other law enforcement officers to maintain public safety.
Many Kentuckians may not realize that each of these law enforcement branches go through this rigorous training program that includes hand to hand combat training (sadly, a skill increasingly necessary due to the escalating violence directed at police), performance driving training (which includes intense drilling on safety and when a chase should be abandoned to ensure public safety), and of course firearms handling in extremely stress-filled situations.
The false belief that police officers frequently endanger the public is not supported by statistics. Instead the opposite is true. Police officers, through the efforts to deter violent crime, provide critically important protection to our communities. For example, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the rates of violent crime reached an all-time high in 1991, yet today have been nearly cut in half.
Good policing makes our communities and our citizens safer. The in-depth training conducted at the Kentucky Police Academy leads to good policing. We witnessed that first hand during our tour of the academy and while witnessing the professionalism of the graduates. We owe a debt of thanks to these passionate and dedicated men and women. Because of their sacrifice, we sleep in peace.
Chris Skates is a freelance writer who currently serves as Communications Advisor in Governor Bevin’s office.
Maya Pierce is a student and an Intern in the governor’s office.
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