Kentucky School Resource Officers Would Be Required To Carry Firearm Under Proposed Legislation

The updates to a 2019 school safety bill would also require officers to be at every school campus where there are one or more buildings rather than every school.

Legislation introduced in the Kentucky state senate would require all school resource officers across the state to carry a gun.

Sen. Max Wise, a Republican, introduced the bill on Monday, focusing on his concern that the state’s largest school district in Jefferson County does not arm school resource officers, according to The Lexington Herald-Leader.

He noted that a majority of districts already employ armed officers but that the legislation would require the remaining districts to comply with the trend.

Essentially, Senate Bill 8 would change the state’s definition of a SRO to be an officer who works with students at school sites and is armed with a firearm. In addition, the bill would require one or more resource officers in every school campus where there are one or more buildings instead of in every school.

The governor signed a school safety bill into law last year and since then has not been able to find the funding within Kentucky’s tight budget to fund it. Wise’s new additions to the bill would also shift responsibility for active shooter training at schools from the state’s education department to the criminal justice department, according to the Herald-Leader.

Education groups in Kentucky have estimated that districts will need $18 million to make necessary facility upgrades and at least $121 million per year to hire more mental health counselors and SROs.

Other states have also made arming school resource officers a key aspect of their legislative efforts to make schools safer. In Florida, charter schools have especially faced criticism for failing to meet legislative deadlines requiring administrators to hire armed SROs for their campuses.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.