FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Gov. Andy Beshear signed into law Friday the school safety bill that will require school resource officers to be armed.
“Our children deserve to feel safe and be safe in their schools,” Beshear said of the bill that passed by the General Assembly earlier this month by overwhelming margins.
Beshear acknowledged some people objected to the bill because of the armed SRO requirement. “I simply cannot ask a school resource officer to stop an armed gunman entering a school without them having the ability to not only achieve tis mission but also to protect themselves. “We must be able to stop the worst of the worst."
He said the issue of some children not feeling safe because of an armed police officer in schools, must be addressed.
“To strike the right balance here, we have to not only sign Senate Bill 8 into law, we have to start changing the attitude that causes children to feel unsafe around armed officers,” he said.
Secretary of the Cabinet J. Michael Brown said one way to bridge that divide is by training the school resource officers,
“I would urge local communities to not only look at training in the tactical sense, but also the training in the psychological and the acumen sense before they go into the school, because part of the bill calls for issues of being aware of what’s going on with schools, of being aware of if there’s trauma that’s happened to the students, so they become a resource.”
Beshear added, “As we move forward developing the curriculum for our SROs, we are going to include the voices of those who are concerned about this bill. The best way to ultimately address those concerns is to include those voices and to make sure they have a chance to help us develop curriculum to address where this concern comes from and to make sure every child feels safe with law enforcement, instead of the opposite.”
Upon learning of the governor’s action, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, issued a statement in which he said:
“The signing of Senate Bill 8 into law is an incredibly important day for the commonwealth. This new legislation, which goes into effect immediately, is crucial to the General Assembly’s continued efforts to protect Kentucky’s children, teachers and staff by improving the safety of our schools. I am appreciative of all those who provided the necessary input and support to see this measure come to fruition.”
The school safety efforts intensified because of the 2018 shooting at Marshall County High School in western Kentucky, where two 15-year-old students, Bailey Holt and Preston Cope, were killed and more than a dozen others were injured when another student opened fire.