March Recognized as National 'Women's History Month'
FRANKFORT, KY (March 2, 2022) – On Tuesday, March 1, 2022, Gov. Andy Beshear and the Kentucky State Police (KSP) joined the nation in recognition of March as National ‘Women’s History Month’ by taking time to honor and thank the women of KSP who have paved the way for females in law enforcement and created a strong legacy of providing exceptional public safety to all Kentuckians.
Women's History Month is held annually in March as time to commemorate and encourage the study, observance and celebration of the vital role women contribute to and have provided in American history.
“My administration is thankful for all the women who have answered the call of service, both past and present, and chosen a career of public service to create a better and safer Kentucky. This month we take time to shine a light on their dedication and service to the commonwealth,” said Gov. Beshear.
For more than 50 years, women have played a strong role in KSP and contributed to the mission of the agency. During Women’s History Month, KSP plans to highlight the great work women troopers and employees across the state by telling their stories through photos and videos on the KSP’s social media platforms.
“The women troopers, officers and civilian employees within the Kentucky State Police have contributed to the mission of this agency for decades,” said KSP Commissioner Phillip Burnett, Jr. “While the month of March is a national celebration, we appreciate the significant impact they provide on a daily basis.”
A mark in KSP’s history was made in 1978 when Sandra Schonecker-Taylor, a Covington, Ky. native, became the first female trooper to graduate from the KSP Academy. She was assigned to Post 8 in Morehead and later served as a detective with the special investigation's unit. Taylor retired in 1993 after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She lost her extended battle with the condition on January 9, 2021.
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Gannon stands next to the photo of the agency's first female trooper Sandra Schonecker-Taylor
In 1990, Leslie Gannon graduated from the KSP Training Academy and would become one of the highest-ranking women in the agency’s history. Gannon served the commonwealth for 23 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. Gannon says she learned the badge earned her authority during her career, but her behavior earned her respect.
“I far exceeded any of my expectations in my career, and it was because of the people who paved the way before me,” said Ret. Lt. Col. Leslie Gannon. “I have high expectations for the future woman of KSP because I know they can do it. Women are vitally important to law enforcement, and we’re an asset.”
In 2003, Jennifer Sandlin graduated from the KSP Training Academy, only a year after her husband graduated. Sandlin worked as a Trooper for two years before she had her first child and welcomed her second child a few years later. As a trooper, wife, and mother, Sandlin advanced her career and was promoted to sergeant, lieutenant, and in 2016 she was promoted to captain. Sandlin is currently the highest-ranking woman at KSP, serving as the Post Commander at Post 13 in Hazard, Ky.
“I’m very proud of being the first woman to be named the Post Commander at Post 13. I have such a connection to Hazard post because that’s where I grew up, that’s where I raised my children, and that’s where I get to serve my community,” said Capt. Jennifer Sandlin.
Not only have the sworn female ranks contributed to the agency but so have their civilian counterparts.
Forensic Lab Division Director Laura Sudkamp in 1989 as an entry level chemist at the KSP lab
Laura Sudkamp, who began her career with KSP in 1989 as an intern with the Central Forensic Lab is now the Division Director for the agency’s forensic operations.
“It’s been encouraging to see women become so well represented. We’ve seen the transformation ourselves at the crime lab, from a historically male-dominated profession arising from within law enforcement ranks to a place where women make up a significant proportion of our staff, and myself as a civilian woman as a director,” said Laura Sudkamp.
In the previous state budget, the Governor allocated $500,000 to help increase KSP’s recruitment efforts by developing a marketing initiative to reach individuals from Kentucky’s 120 counties. Digital ads were launched in unique venues, such as colleges and universities, outdoor billboards in rural communities, social media and streaming television platforms. Additionally, KSP is working closely with retired minority troopers to further improve their diversity recruitment efforts.
“Through this funding, we launched the ‘Be the Difference’ recruitment campaign, which resulted in the largest reporting academy class since 2015,” said KSP Recruitment Branch Commander Sgt. Michael Murriell. “However, our agency is not satisfied with the current level of diversity, and it remains a priority to recruit a dedicated, qualified workforce that best reflects the diverse communities of the commonwealth.”
KSP’s recruitment branch recently finished accepting application for the upcoming cadet class 102, which is slated to begin June 2022.
The current KSP Training Academy has four women cadets who are set to graduate on March 25. Chelsey Brock has earned the distinction of being the Guidon Bearer for her cadet class based on her performance and overall attitude during her training.
“Becoming a trooper is no easy task by any means. To make it in the academy you need to wake up every day and be ready for a challenge. I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before me,” said Cadet Chelsey Brock.
Recently, the Governor announced historic investments to improve public safety, retention, and accountability in his recent budget proposal. His two-year budget plan provides millions of dollars to fund competitive salaries for KSP troopers, officers, and telecommunicators, supply body cameras for KSP sworn troopers, and increase the peace officer training stipend.
The mission of KSP is to promote public safety through service, integrity and professionalism using partnerships to prevent, reduce and deter crime and the fear of crime, enhance highway safety through education and enforcement, safeguard property and protect individual rights.
This year, the number one priority for KSP is creating a better Kentucky by making the commonwealth’s streets safer, communities stronger and the nation more secure by providing exceptional law enforcement made up of a diverse workforce. For more information about career opportunities with KSP visit the website.