Via Kentucky Department of Corrections Facebook page

Three months after their promised 12% raises were abruptly put on hold, the Bevin administration announced in a news conference and release on Wednesday that most state probation and parole officers would finally receive this salary increase.

As first reported by Insider Louisville, the Kentucky Department of Corrections told all 600-plus probation and parole officers and supervisors in a letter on Feb. 4 that they would all receive a 12% raise effective March 16, in an effort to stem the high turnover rate of those workers, who have extraordinarily large caseloads due to an increase in vacant positions.

However, a day before those raises were to go into effect, leadership at corrections and the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet announced that they were on hold, blaming errors and misinformation made by former leadership at the department — whose commissioner had been fired right after the raises were announced.

Justice Cabinet Sec. John Tilley and the new Probation and Parole Director Erica Hargis told officers in late May that the state Personnel Cabinet had adjusted the salary schedule to increase the midpoint wage for each pay grade effective June 1, which would increase the salary of “many” probation and parole employees.

Tilley and Gov. Matt Bevin highlighted this change in a news conference in Lexington on Wednesday, with the governor stating that this was the first time the state salary schedule had been adjusted in over a decade, which “will empower agencies to better retain their dedicated public servants and to attract new talent to their roles.”

A news release on the salary schedule adjustment stated that it gives agencies the flexibility to increase the salary of employees making below the midpoint wage, “if that agency has the necessary budget resources.” The Division of Probation and Parole within corrections and the Justice Cabinet is the first agency to utilize the adjustment to increase salaries.

Asked if all probation and parole officers would receive a full 12% raise, Personnel Cabinet spokeswoman Katherine North told Insider that a “very small” number of officers who aren’t currently below the midpoint wage would receive a smaller raise.

North also stated that while the 20 district supervisors and four branch managers of the probation and parole division would not receive a full 12% raise, those supervisors previously received a 5% raise and will receive another smaller raise that together yields a 12% increase.

North also confirmed that probationary officers who have been employed less than a year would not receive the raise until their status changed and all officer raises would be backdated to June 1 on their mid-July paychecks.

The Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police and the FOP Metropolitan Lodge No. 32 had both pushed state officials to follow through on their promised raises from February and released statements in the past week applauding officials for doing so.

“I am excited to see the Governor take an interest in the hard work probation and parole officers are doing in the community,” stated Ryan Straw, the president of the FOP Metropolitan Lodge No. 32.

He added that the FOP didn’t expect to be acknowledged in the governor’s remarks, “but it should be noted that all the officers who put their careers on the line to advocate for leadership to actually follow through on a promise are the real reason these raises are happening. I commend our statewide membership for taking the risk of speaking out.”

In the administration’s news release, Sec. Tilley stated that “P&P officers are taking on an ever more important role in public safety, and it’s essential that we offer competitive salaries to retain and recruit the very best.”

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Lamb told Insider that the new annual starting salary for probation and parole officers is $34,799.

This story has been updated.

Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]