Ky. House passes bill requiring school resource officers for all public schools
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Kentucky House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday taking another step towards requiring school resource officers in all state public schools.
House Bill 63, which would require all school districts to assign SROs to each school campus by August 1, passed the House with a 78-17 vote.
School districts who are unable to meet funding or staffing requirements to assign an SRO to each campus would work with the state school security marshal to hire officers on a per campus basis until each campus has an SRO assigned.
The bill follows up the School Safety and Resiliency Act passed during the 2020 General Assembly. The house bill amends Senate Bill 1 to require the officers on campus and removes the stipulation for school districts to forego SROs due to insufficient staffing or funds.
Currently, 57 percent of Kentucky School districts do not have assigned SROs, according to a survey by the Office of the State School Security Marshal.
The School Safety and Resiliency Act was drafted in response to the 2018 shooting in Marshall County where 2 students were killed and 18 others injured at Marshall County High School.
Before the vote, House members raised concerns about the implementation of the bill and the safety of placing armed officers into schools.
“If we’re going to go this way where we’re going to control what local schools do from Frankfort, then we need to put the money with it, and we need to find out what they need and listen to experts instead of our own opinion,” Rep. Pamela Stevenson (D-District 43) said.
Rep. Matthew Koch (R-District 72) referenced an incident in Woodford County on Feb. 7 where a fan became aggressive during a middle school basketball game between McNabb and Bourbon County.
A school resource officer was present during the incident and confirmed the 53-year-old had a gun on him at the time.
“I’m very thankful that the SRO was there,” Koch said. “Every student on the team was thankful he was there. Every student on McNabb’s team, the coaches, the fans from both of those counties and any personnel within that gym was thankful for that SRO, and we ought to have him in here today to give him some kind of medal for what he did.”
Jefferson County Public Schools, Kentucky’s largest school district, approved a plan back in January to have armed officers within the school district.
However, JCPS’ security plan would split traditional SRO roles between school security officers, who would work from outside schools unless a threat surfaced, and security administrators, who would remain unarmed and would report directly to school principals to foster relationships inside schools.
JCPS responded to the bill on Tuesday afternoon: “We appreciate the bill sponsor acknowledging JCPS’ efforts to keep our schools safe. We will continue to follow Kentucky’s school safety laws.”
House Bill 63 advances to the Senate for review.
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