A career of service

Matthew Kenney

Matthew Kenney grew up in Berea, so when a position opened up at the Berea Police Department and he met all the requirements, it only made sense for him to apply for the position.

"I just felt like it was what I needed to do," he said.

He didn't apply anywhere else.

At the time, he had just finished working with the U.S. Army, which he joined in high school, and was working as a guard at the Blue Grass Army Depot.

"I was an artillery specialist, and then I ended up being a sergeant in an infantry unit, prior to working here," he said. "When I was in artillery, I guess you could say I was a fort observer. I was the person that coordinated artillery strikes.

"When I switched over to the infantry, I was a squad leader, and I was in charge of about eight people."

Kenney was first stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, before working in Kentucky for the Army. He also was deployed overseas in 2012-2013 for about 10 months.

If you asked him back then if he enjoyed serving in the Army, he would've said no. But now, his answer is different.

"I had a lot of friends and people, I knew a lot of people … and it's almost the same here (at BPD). Nobody's related, but we're all like family," he said.

After his time with the Army, he started working as a guard at the depot, and his family had talked to him about applying to Kentucky State Police. When he started seriously considering becoming an officer, he remembered thinking officers always looked cool when he was a child.

Plus, Kenney wanted to be a part of something bigger.

Then when the Berea Police Department announced it was hiring, Kenney applied. He was hired two weeks after applying and was part of the first class of the extended police academy after it switched from having 18 weeks to having 23 weeks of training.

"Over there, I was just a depot employee, and then here, it's the whole city of Berea, the state, the community I grew up in," he said. "… It was the right thing to do to work in the city that I live in. …

"We're a type of people," he said. "It's kind of like everybody doesn't wake up and want to be a police officer. If you talk to most of them, they felt like that was what they were supposed to do. It's not like you just have an idea one day of like, 'I'm going to be a police officer.'"

Kenney started out on second shift being a patrol officer, which he said he enjoyed.

"I liked being out and working. I liked meeting a lot of people. I liked helping people," he said.

He explained that shortly after he got into work was the busiest time of day, as people would be getting off work and children were leaving school for the day.

"I liked being there. … I wanted to be where the action was," Kenney said. He added that he enjoyed representing the police department and city as best as he could by keeping his car and uniform clean.

As he continued to work for BPD, he became more involved, joining the Honor Guard and the bike unit. Additionally, he became the one who trained newer officers for the second shift.

"I tried to teach them to get out there and talk to people," he said. "Somewhere, somebody's looking at you and is like, 'I want to be like that guy when I grow up.'"

Kenney added that he believes it is important for officers to go out in the community so people will see an officer "for who you are as a person, and that way, we show people that we actually care."

In October, Kenney took a promotion to be a detective and learn a different side of police work.

"It's kind of like an advancement," he said. "There's a little more responsibility, so if I go back to the road, I'll have a lot more knowledge."

But for now, Kenney said, he wants to better himself in his career while simultaneously helping out the department.

"I didn't wake up thinking I would be a detective, but we needed one … and I felt like I would be able to help the current ones that we had," he explained.

In the future, however, Kenney isn't sure where his career will take him.

"I would like to be a road supervisor one day … to be a supervisor for patrol units, guide the regular patrolmen," he said.

Reach Sara Kuhl at 624-6626; follow her on Twitter @saraekuhl.

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