City Commissioners discussed an ordinance Tuesday night to revise a City of Owensboro employee handbook policy for entry-level police officers. If approved after a second reading, the Owensboro Police Department will be able to implement a state-wide program that allows entry-level officers to obtain an Applied Science Associate’s Degree while he or she is attending law enforcement basic training.
The Educating Heroes program is offered by the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training and gives new police applicants the chance to earn their associate degree from the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Bluegrass Community and Technical College while simultaneously going through the state’s basic training program.
The City’s Employee Handbook Policy 109 pertains to both City police officers and entry-level Owensboro Fire Department employees. City Manager Nate Pagan said the changes will only affect OPD applicants, while OFD policies will remain unchanged.
Pagan explained that the City’s current policy requires all entry-level police officer candidates to have an associate degree or equivalent.
“The [police] academy — as we refer to it — is required for all new officers,” Pagan said. “The academy has started a new program called Educating Heroes, which allows recruits to simultaneously earn their associate’s degree while completing their officer certification at the academy.”
This amended policy would give police recruits an alternative to earning their associate degree at the hire date, Pagan added.
“Changes would apply to entry-level police officers with no change to entry-level firefighters,” he said.
The ordinance will be voted on after a second reading.