Kentucky SROs Must Carry Guns Under New Law
The new requirement adds to a 2019 state law, which called for school resource officers in nearly each of its 1,500 public schools.
Democratic Governor Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 8 into law on Friday, requiring sworn law enforcement officers serving in Kentucky schools to be armed.
The bill, which was sponsored by Republican state senator Max Wise, passed the Senate 34-1 and the House 78-8, according to the press release.
The new bill will go into effect immediately and requires each school resource officer (SRO) to be armed, with at least one officer on every school campus where there are one or more school buildings. There are an estimated 1,500 public schools in the state.
“I am taking the steps to protect our children in schools – to ensure that the next time an armed individual enters a Kentucky school, there is a sworn law enforcement officer there, armed and well-trained. We’re going to give them the tools they need to stop the worst of the worst,” said Beshears. “We cannot ask a school resource officer to be in a school to stop an armed shooter if they are not armed themselves.”
In the state House, several members of the Black Caucus opposed the bill, expressing concerns about the guns being used on students. Rep. Charles Booker warned that some black students may have a complicated relationship with law enforcement, reports PoliceOne.com.
“I’m asking that you consider children that come from a different walk,” he said.
Beshear acknowledged concerns about the new legislation and said he would continue to develop a training curriculum for the SROs.
Last year, state lawmakers passed the School Safety and Resiliency Act — Senate Bill (SB) 1 — which provides standards for schools to improve the physical safety and mental health of students and requires all schools have school resource officers.
SB 1 was passed in the wake of the 2018 Marshall County High School shooting in Benton, Ky., where two people were killed and 18 others were injured by a student gunman.
Last month, Beshear also proposed $18.2 million to fund the physical security portion of the bill, which is the amount the Kentucky School Board Association said was needed for statewide security upgrades. He said it is the “first important step” in fully funding the improvements needed to make public schools difficult targets.
Read More Articles Like This… With A FREE Subscription
Campus Safety magazine is another great resource for public safety, security and emergency management professionals. It covers all aspects of campus safety, including access control, video surveillance, mass notification and security staff practices. Whether you work in K-12, higher ed, a hospital or corporation, Campus Safety magazine is here to help you do your job better!