Texas tragedy has Kentucky lawmakers doubling down on new SRO law
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A Kentucky law passed last legislative session requires every school in the state to have an armed school resource officer inside each building, but WAVE News found JCPS and at least 18 other districts aren’t in compliance yet.
Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas had a school resource officer who shot at, but was unable to stop the suspect, because he was wearing protective body armor.
Despite that, State Rep. Kevin Bratcher (R-Jefferson), the Kentucky SRO law’s sponsor, told WAVE News SROs are still necessary to keep students and teachers safer in the commonwealth.
“After an event like this, which is breaking everyone’s heart in America, there’s always, ‘We should be doing this, we should be doing that,’” Bratcher said. “To me, the first thing to do in Kentucky is to have security in every school.”
Bratcher said the SRO law, which goes into effect this August, would do just that by mandating an armed SRO inside school buildings.
However, the law does not allot districts the money or manpower to implement it.
Bratcher said he hopes the General Assembly will come up with funding to support the law in the future, but in the meantime, districts that don’t have the resources to adhere to the mandate can work with the state to come up with a plan.
According to the state, there are 476 reported SRO positions in 152 districts, meaning at least 19 districts are not in compliance with the law, including JCPS.
JCPS superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio has said in the past the district would have to hire 155 armed SROs for each school to be in compliance with the law, which is unrealistic for a district its size, especially considering the potential cost and effort the hiring process would take.
Kentucky’s largest school district has its own security plan- place 66 unarmed administrators inside schools to build relationships with the students, and have 33 armed school safety officers outside the buildings to roam throughout a designated zone.
“It just blows my mind that JCPS voted all security out of their schools about three years ago, that was COVID years too, but I think they’ve come to their senses now and they’ve got a plan going and it’s a great first step, but they need a SRO in every school campus and that’s the law right now,” Bratcher said.
Pollio told WAVE News the district is willing to work with the state if JCPS’s safety plan is not up to the law’s standards.
Rep. Attica Scott (D-Jefferson) told WAVE News the SRO law is pointless, because it doesn’t prevent guns from getting in the wrong hands. She said “common sense gun laws” need to be put in place to help prevent mass shootings.
“(The SRO law) is a pat on the back for legislators who also decided people can open carry in Kentucky without a permit,” Scott said. “It’s a slap in the face. On one hand, we’ll do something performative, like school resource officers. On the other, we’re saying we’re going to create the wild, wild west in Kentucky.”
It’s unclear if the SRO law has any penalties in place for districts that don’t adhere to the mandate.
Copyright 2022 WAVE. All rights reserved.