Bardstown Police struggling to fill open positions - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Bardstown Police struggling to fill open positions

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BARDSTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) – The Bardstown Police Department is having a hard time retaining officers, and the chief of police blames it mainly on low pay.

When fully staffed, Bardstown PD employs 27 officers. However, since June, the department has lost or is losing eight officers.

“Law enforcement is struggling throughout the state, not just at this agency,” said Bardstown Police Chief Steve Uram.

Uram says he has hired five new officers so far, but two of them are brand new to the profession, creating a different set of problems.

“You have to get onto a waiting list to get into the academy, and once they get in to the academy, it's a 23-week process,” Uram said.

Uram says the pool of applicants has shrunk in recent years, making it more difficult to find qualified candidates. But he also says there’s another problem: money.

Right now, after graduating from the academy, Bardstown officers can make $16.67 an hour. For comparison, after graduating from the academy, Nelson County Sheriff’s Office deputies can make $21.67 an hour.

“I would like to see post-academy up around $20 an hour,” said Uram, whose request would have to be approved by Bardstown City Council.

Some have raised concerns that moral is an issue at the department, causing a number of people to leave. In the past several months, the department has faced a number of leadership shakeups. Uram has been on the job since November.

“I think morale is improving,” he said. “They'd gone through turmoil before I got here. In fact, they've gone through turmoil ever since Jason Ellis was murdered three years ago.”

Uram is also now requiring new officers to sign a contract. A lateral hire must sign a two-year agreement, and a brand new officer to the profession has to sign a three-year agreement.

“It's a juggling game to keep everybody out there and keep them happy."

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