Ken L. Armstrong knew he wanted to be a police officer in middle school. He was drawn to public service, wanted to help and be a part of a team whose primary goal is to respond.
"I always liked the thought that if people needed help, they would call the police," he said. "And I always liked being a part of those type of things."
After nearly 24 years with Lexington police, Armstrong was promoted to assistant chief Monday afternoon.
Armstrong and 15 other officers were honored during the department's promotional ceremony at Bluegrass Community and Technical College on Newtown Pike.
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The ceremony, the department's largest ever, was filled with relatives, public and local government officials and community leaders.
Seven officers were promoted to sergeant; five sergeants were promoted to lieutenant; three lieutenants were promoted to commander; and commander Armstrong was promoted to assistant chief.
"I'm very excited," Armstrong said. "I look forward to working with both the individuals in the community and the Division of Police to continue to build on what we've been building on the last few years to make us not only the best department in the state, but by far the best in the country. The only way we're going to do that, is if we work together as a community and as a police department."
Police Chief Mark Barnard said the ceremony was to recognize officers in a formal way. Many have been informal leaders within the department.
"To be formally recognized and brought up in front of their families and the community, mayor and the council and say 'these are the people who are responsible in leading our agency' is a very proud moment for them," he said. "It's a lot of work. They spend a lot of days and nights away from home and put in the hard work to get these positions."
Barnard, who was flanked onstage by Mayor Jim Gray and Public Safety Commissioner Ronnie Bastin, thanked the officers for their leadership that's "an intricate part of our ability to serve our community," and the time the officers spend away from home.
No structural changes have been made in the department. But the promotions filled some positions that were open because of attrition.
The department has about 535 police officers and 150 civilian workers.
Gray called the promotions "exciting."
"We all know that when it comes to public safety, failure to act is really not an option and these guys know that," he said. "Lives are on the line ... Your new roles within this division will be, of course demanding, but there's a great blessing and a great challenge and a great reward in this work. And that spirit is what we all see each and every day."
Commander Roger Holland said he's hoping to share the experiences and lessons that were shared with him.
"There's been a lot of sacrifice by those in this agency that has afforded me this opportunity," he said.
"I look to extend that to others. This position is critical in the development of leadership within this agency for the betterment of our community. So, I'm looking forward to getting out there and meeting members of the community and hand off the legacy that has been handed off to me."