William Hunt led Somerset Police Department for seven years, continuously advocating for his staff and serving his community
Following a 30-year career in law enforcement encompassing an extensive list of community service and professional accomplishments — including being the first police chief in Somerset’s history to be named Kentucky’s Chief of the Year — Somerset Police Chief William Hunt will retire effective Feb. 29.
Hunt, a community-oriented policing advocate and a champion for better pay and equipment for his officers, was named Somerset’s chief in 2017. Since that time, he has not only built Somerset Police Department (SPD) back to full staff from 31 to 46 officers and negotiated a 65 percent increase in officer starting pay but has added layers of enforcement and programming that have resulted in new levels of safety and involvement in the community.
“I think all leaders want to ensure they leave things better than they found them,” Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said. “And that is undeniably the case with Chief Hunt and Somerset Police. Our police department is strong, and our command staff is experienced, capable and up to the task. I am confident they will build on the incredible progress we’ve experienced in the past few years with Chief Hunt’s leadership.”
Hunt said he knew the time had come when realizing the department had met all of the goals he set for it when he took office seven years ago.
“I have always been told you will know when it is time to step away from your career,” Hunt said. “After much thought and prayer, I have filed my intent to retire. … The team at Somerset Police Department has met every goal I hoped to achieve, and it’s time I put my family first. I will continue to pray for God to show me the new path he has for me. I will take some time off before I begin to see what is out there. Ultimately, whatever my path is, I hope it will allow me to continue to work in some type of community service-oriented position. My heart has always been to serve the community and help others.”
Community has been a recurring theme throughout Hunt’s leadership. He has been equally involved in professional and community/statewide organizations. A graduate of the Leadership Kentucky Class of 2021, Hunt is the only SPD chief to serve on the Kentucky League of Cities board of directors. He has served on the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce board of directors for four years as well as the Citizens National Bank Economic Advisory Committee. Through his involvement as president of the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police (KACP), Hunt brought the organization’s state conference to Somerset in 2022, creating a nearly $200,000 economic impact in the community.
Hunt believes law enforcement is at its best when it is serving the community while protecting it. By implementing a community-oriented policing strategy, SPD has participated in more than 100 events annually for the last five years. Two specific initiatives — Shop with a Cop and Operation Christmas — endeavored to improve the relationship between law enforcement and local youth and families by shopping with children and making gift deliveries to those in need.
Through a partnership with the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, Hunt helped establish the Shepherds Watch program, one of SPD’s community-led crime prevention and investigation tools. Businesses and residents with security cameras can voluntarily enroll in this program and offer footage to SPD to assist in solving crimes that occur in the area. For its efforts, Shepherds Watch was given the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executives Excellence in Innovation Award in 2021.
In addition to increasing staff and raising pay to meet the state average, Hunt has been an advocate for ensuring his officers have the equipment they need to protect the community and themselves, including vehicles, drones, digital radios and a new K-9 patrol unit. He also added several new focus areas within the department that have improved safety in the community. Each school in the Somerset Independent Schools district has a full-time school resource officer (SRO), and Somerset Christian School now has an SRO for the first time in the school’s history. Hunt also created SPD’s first narcotics unit, adding a detective that works directly with the Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force, and welcomed a new department chaplain.
Hunt’s tenure has been filled with professional development opportunities that have brought valuable knowledge to SPD and built a reputation of excellence across the state and nation. Hunt is the second chief in the department’s history to serve as KACP president and the only chief to be selected to represent the Commonwealth as the State Association of Chiefs of Police delegate for the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Hunt completed the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy National Command Course and is certified as a police instructor and law enforcement chief executive through the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council. He has served on several law enforcement task forces and committees, including the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky’s Law Enforcement Executive Committee. His expertise has been sought often in Frankfort, where he has testified before the Kentucky General Assembly on issues that have improved legislation for the industry and the community.
Hunt and his wife, Carla, have been married for 31 years and have four children — Skyler, Colson, Ava and Emerye. Hunt is a deacon at First Baptist Church in Somerset and is, in Keck’s view, one of the most dedicated servant leaders in the community.
“In our five-plus years of working together, I always see him putting others and the community first,” Keck said. “I will never be able to adequately thank him for his leadership, friendship and assistance as I transitioned into the role of mayor and as we’ve made historic progress together over the last five years. Any praise he receives over the coming days is certainly worthy and I look forward to seeing what the next season of his journey looks like. I know he will find a way to continue serving our community.”
Read Hunt’s full statement about his decision to retire here.