Ky. school districts still struggling with SRO requirement as school year begins
MERCER COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Students in central Kentucky are back in school and safety is a top priority.
In April, the legislature passed House Bill 63 requiring all school campuses to have school resource officers. We know many districts did not meet the August 1 deadline.
Some districts don’t have the money right now to fill the position. While others have the money, but don’t have applicants. That’s the case for Mercer County Schools.
“We weren’t able to get any applicants for this position,” said Superintendent John Booher
Booher says they’ve had an SRO opening since spring of last year. Not a single application has been submitted for the position. He says having a sheriff’s office and police department within two miles of campus is part of the issue.
“The problem is that they can’t fill their jobs which is first priority for them because they’ve gotta have enough manpower on the streets,” said Booher.
Booher cites the lack of ‘action’ in Kentucky schools as another reason for the struggle to hire SROs.
“I think that detours a lot of 20 and 30-year-olds that are the policemen already. They don’t want to be in schools,” said Booher. “Then, you’ve got your older crew that wants to be just in the schools but, when school is out, they don’t want to go in the streets.”
He says forming a police department in the school district could be a potential solution.
“Saying, ‘hey, you won’t have to work the streets,’ that we could get some retirees, police officers that just want to be in the schools. I think that would be more enticing for them, than having to go back to the streets when school is out,” said Booher.
According to the Office of the State School Security Marshal, as of August 2021, 57 percent of schools did not have assigned school resource officers. They were unable to tell us how many of Kentucky’s 173 school districts met the August 1 deadline as they are still collecting data.
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