House approves bipartisan peace officer certification reform bill

Bill would ban anyone with felony or misdemeanor sexual offense from being a peace officer

February 22, 2022 Steve Rogers

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A bill moving through the Kentucky General Assembly would prohibit anyone convicted of a misdemeanor sexual offense from becoming or remaining a peace officer.

The Kentucky House of Representatives unanimously approved House Bill 206 on Tuesday.

Kentucky law currently prohibits anyone convicted of a felony from becoming or remaining a peace officer. HB 206 would add misdemeanor sexual offenses to the list. The bill would also automatically revoke the certification of a peace officer if he or she is convicted of a misdemeanor sexual offense.

Primary sponsor Rep. Rachel Roberts, D-Newport, said the measure is an extension of Senate Bills 80 and 52 from the 2021 legislative session. Both bills sought to reform what constitutes law enforcement misconduct in an effort to weed out “bad actors.”

“House Bill 206 helps us ensure that we recruit the very best and that Kentucky’s peace officers serve with honor when charged with the public’s safety and trust,” Roberts said.

Primary cosponsor Rep. Jennifer Decker, R-Waddy, said she was shocked when she learned from a retired law enforcement officer in her district that individuals convicted of a misdemeanor sex offense, even a misdemeanor sex offense against a child, are not prohibited from serving as peace officers in Kentucky.

Decker said she was in “disbelief” at learning her constituent knew about a case in Kentucky. The officer had been originally charged with felony child rape but pleaded guilty and had their charges reduced to a misdemeanor. That allowed them to continue working as a peace officer under current statute.

HB 206 cleared the House by a 96-0 vote. It will now go before the Senate for consideration.

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