State lawmakers look to improve school safety

FRANKFRORT, KY. (WKYT) - Lawmakers say keeping schools safe remains a priority in this year's legislative session.

Lawmakers and officials testify during a hearing on school safety (WKYT)

Last year, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1, the School Safety and Resiliency Act. A key component of that law was getting more officers into schools.

“You know there’s a misnomer about school resource officers that they are there to back up the paddy wagon," said Jon Akers, of the Kentucky Center for School Safety at a committee hearing Thursday. "These are role models out there, they are mentors.”

Lawmakers were told that there are 474 school resource officers in Kentucky but not every school has one.

“It seems to me that non compliance is not acceptable,” said Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington.

Putting a trained law enforcement professional in schools isn’t cheap.

“It will get into a funding question," said Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville. "We need to encourage these school districts out there, of why they are not equipped to have an SRO on their campus.”

One bill proposed for this year would require that every school resource officer be armed.

“Any officer in the school, I want them to be armed. Because if an armed intruder come in I want them to deal with that,” said Akers.

Senate Bill 8also intends to clarify the definition of school resource officer.

"We’re not going to give them sling shots, not going to give them something else to not help them in a situation of whatever could befall them,” said Sen. Wise.

Funding for school safety remains in question but Sen. Wise says it will be a priority in both chambers this session.

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