- As Chairman of the Public Safety Budget Committee, Rep. Claeys budgeted raises for the Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Bureau of Investigation and our corrections officers
- To address recruitment and retention issues with the KBI, Rep. Claeys proposed adding KBI agents to the DROP retention program
- Rep. Claeys' recruitment and retention plan is working, with the largest class in KHP history enrolled at the KHP Training Academy in Salina
Recruitment & Retention
It is an honor to serve as the chairman of the House Transportation and Public Safety Budget Committee, where I get to see first-hand the hard and innovative work of the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Corrections, along with other important law enforcement agencies across our state.
Together, we made it a priority to recruit and retain more law enforcement around our state, along with making our agencies more attractive to work in for law enforcement personnel. We know the sacrifices that law enforcement officers make to serve our state and we have wanted to do all that we can to help them.
The Kansas Highway Patrol has seen a decline in the number of troopers since 2006, along with stagnant wages during that same time period. Last year, the Transportation and Public Safety Budget Committee worked with the Highway Patrol to devise a new pay plan for our state troopers. This new pay plan makes the Highway Patrol a more attractive place to work and helps with increasing recruitment, which will allow for more troopers to be stationed around our state. Our state troopers are the backbone of keeping our state roadways safe and investigating traffic accidents. The work they do is often thankless, but it is important, and we needed to address this shortage.
I am proud to say that as a result of my work steering a new pay plan to passage last year, the recently graduating class at the Highway Patrol Training Academy in Salina included 20 new troopers, an increase of 14 over the previous class. Applications for the next training class continue to increase and we are on track to see the largest incoming class in history.
In May of 2016, I attended the Governor's signing in Salina of a bill funding the Rank & Pay Plan for the Kansas Highway Patrol and funding for local police officer training at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center. This important bill, passed this year, will ensure we recruit and retain the best and brightest officers across the state.
Working together, we also created a new pension plan the Legislature approved last year for the Kansas Highway Patrol. Under the DROP program, veteran troopers now have incentive to stay on the job longer, providing much needed expertise to help train the new troopers coming in. This session I proposed adding the KBI to the DROP program to strengthen retention among agents and added to the budget a KBI Rank & Pay Plan mirroring that of the KHP.
Last summer, I met with leadership of the KHP and KBI to devise a new career path between the two agencies. This career path will allow for ranking troopers to move to the KBI if they want to pursue investigative work, without taking a pay cut to transition between agencies. This plan will provide more career opportunities for our troopers and keep them serving our state.
Addressing the decline of officers in the state Department of Corrections has been a top concern. Corrections officers play an important role in our law enforcement system, helping to protect those in our state prisons and protecting the public by keeping our prison system secure. They also work on important programs within our prisons with the goal to reduce inmate recidivism when they reenter society, thus keeping crime down statewide. This year we secured $2.5 million to provide a raise for our corrections officers, which will help us to address recruitment and retention in the department.
In addition, over the last two years we have made important progress in the area of prison reform, including passing legislation that will expand the prison program credit program and including more funding in the budget to expand an effective program that had made our state's juvenile justice centers focus more on education and training. Programs like these provide increased skills for inmates and juvenile offenders, which help them secure jobs when they reenter society and end the cycle of crime.
Public safety is a core responsibility for state government and one that I take seriously as a representative of the people of Salina and Saline County. At the core of public safety is supporting our state's law enforcement community and providing them with the resources they need to do their jobs.