Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Ky. vies to retain police academy

Cuts mean all but a handful will close

The Associated Press

RICHMOND, Ky. - One is a would-be chemist, another a former actor and stuntman in Hollywood.

Instead of those pursuits, though, Sam Wade and Jason Gray joined 14 other recent college graduates sitting in classrooms and undergoing mental and physical training to become Kentucky sheriff's deputies and police officers.

They're part of the sixth class at the Kentucky Police Corps, a federally funded, state-administered program housed at the law enforcement complex at Eastern Kentucky University. The program is now facing a crossroads as to whether it will survive.

Congressional appropriations have been cut in half, and the number of state training centers is about to be cut from more than 20 to three or four, with Kentucky's vying for one of the remaining spots.

Cadets make a four-year commitment to work on a police force after completing the program. In exchange, they get 1,290 hours of training and up to $15,000 to help cover college costs.

The program provides officers for mid-sized and small departments. Lexington, Louisville and the Kentucky State Police have their own academies.

The Police Corps program was created in 1994 with the goal to help fight crime by increasing the number of officers with an advanced education.

Congress cut appropriations from $30 million five years ago to about $15 million now.

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