Police Officers Certified As 'Tourism Ambassadors' in Lexington, Ky.

By the end of this month, every police officer in the Lexington Police Department will have completed the Bluegrass Tourism Ambassador Program, making Lexington, Ky., the nation's first city to provide tourism training to its entire division of police, the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau announced last week.

Designed to ensure a positive experience for Lexington-area visitors, the Bluegrass Tourism Ambassadors Program was launched in 2008 as part of the Tourism Ambassador Institute's national certified hospitality training program. Although it originally was intended to provide tourism training to the city's front-line hospitality workers—including hotel staff, restaurant and bar staff, taxi drivers, and employees and volunteers at local attractions—local tourism officials decided to approach Chief of Police Ronnie Bastin with the idea of training police officers, since they have such a high profile on city streets.

"Police officers are a very visible part of our community, and we felt it was important to approach Chief Bastin about training his officers," Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau President David Lord said in a statement. "We are thrilled Chief Bastin is committed to putting all of his officers through our Bluegrass Tourism Ambassador Program and are pleased to be the first city in the nation to do so."

So far, more than 1,000 Lexington police officers have been certified as Bluegrass Tourism Ambassadors.

"Our officers are proud of the community we serve, and we want all of our officers to be a resource for visitors and local citizens as well," Chief Bastin said. "The Lexington Police Department is an organization of well-trained, dedicated and disciplined men and women who work together to make Lexington truly the 'Heart of the Bluegrass.'"