Kentucky’s Top Cop
Bell County native appointed KSP commissioner
Published 4:09 pm Thursday, April 15, 2021
Gov. Andy Beshear has announced the appointment of Col. Phillip Burnett Jr. as commissioner of the Kentucky State Police (KSP).
“I believe in Commissioner Burnett’s ability to lead KSP into the future,” said Gov. Beshear. “He is already working to increase recruitment and create a more diverse workforce, which is crucial to fulfilling our state’s law enforcement duties.”
During a ceremony at the Capitol, with his family in attendance, Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Mary C. Noble swore in Commissioner Burnett.
Commissioner Burnett pledged to continue working with communities across the commonwealth to protect and serve Kentuckians with honor and dignity.
“Every day the men and women in our agency work tirelessly to provide public safety for Kentuckians, and they deserve nothing less than my absolute best as we continue to be one of the national leaders in law enforcement,” said Commissioner Burnett. “As your commissioner, I am committed to protecting the integrity of all investigations, interactions with the public and our state officials as we conduct law enforcement in the right way.
“I also want to thank Gov. Beshear and Secretary Noble for their confidence in and dedication to me and all KSP personnel.”
As interim commissioner, Burnett worked to strengthen the agency’s essential workforce, improve public safety and maintain critical services.
He has expanded the recruitment department with the addition of one female trooper, one male trooper, and the hiring of three new minority troopers. KSP also is collaborating with Dr. Aaron Thompson of the Kentucky Department of Education and Vikki Stone of the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet to further improve diversity recruitment efforts.
“My administration recognizes how important it is to address recruitment, retention, and KSP’s personnel needs, which is why I signed House Bill 192, which includes $5.1 million toward our trooper salary schedule and $500,000 for recruitment efforts,” said Gov. Beshear. “Our law enforcement officers help the entire commonwealth move forward to becoming the better Kentucky we all want for ourselves, family, and future generations.”
Commissioner Burnett has provided strong leadership to KSP on a variety of circumstances leading up to his promotion today, including:
Providing additional security at the Kentucky Capitol grounds and in Washington, D.C., amid concerns related to the presidential inauguration;
Providing wellness checks to hundreds of Kentuckians during the state’s record flooding and ice storms this year;
Escorting UPS trucks carrying COVID-19 vaccine to UPS Worldport in Louisville, in order for thousands of frontline workers to receive their shot of hope;
Requiring all sworn KSP personnel to complete courses on implicit bias, race relations, and social intelligence during a 40-hour state-mandated in-service training by the end of this year;
Retraining the academy’s instructors on how to develop more appropriate, relevant, and professional training materials;
Providing executive command staff, post and region commanders, training academy staff and legal staff with a virtual training from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Anti-Defamation League titled “Law Enforcement and Society: Lessons of the Holocaust”; and
Reopening the doors to all 16 local post locations while following CDC guidelines to assist in the fight against the drug epidemic.
Secretary Noble praised Commissioner Burnett’s work and experience.
“I have worked daily with Commissioner Burnett since his initial appointment and have seen his outstanding leadership and experience at work leading the Kentucky State Police,” said Secretary Noble. “The job of law enforcement is difficult even in the best of times, and that difficulty is increased by dangerous and difficult situations. Even so, Commissioner Burnett and the entire force are dedicated to keeping the commonwealth’s citizens safe, often at great risk to themselves. We will create a better Kentucky through supportive policing initiatives under Commissioner Burnett’s leadership.”
Commissioner Burnett is a 25-year veteran of KSP and has served in numerous assignments including post level uniformed and investigative operations, collision reconstructionist, field training officer, firearms instructor, post commander, operations east troop major, and administration division lieutenant colonel and executive director of the Office of Operations as Unit 1. On Nov. 4, 2020, he was promoted to colonel and acting commissioner of the agency.
Commissioner Burnett is a native of Bell County. He received his bachelor of science degree from Union College, where he also holds a teaching certification in secondary education. Since serving with KSP, he has received multiple awards including Post Trooper of the Year, the Citation for Bravery, the Commissioner’s Award, and back-to-back Governor’s Awards for Impaired Driving Enforcement. He currently resides in Pineville with his wife and two sons.
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, and safeguard property and protect individual rights.