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School Law Enforcement Officers To Be Armed Under Governor-Approved Bill

AP Photo/Bruce Schreiner

Law enforcement officers hired by Kentucky school districts to provide security will be armed under new rules signed into law by Gov. Andy Beshear. 

Friday, Beshear signed Senate Bill 8, legislation designed to augment last year’s comprehensive school safety overhaul. The provision drawing the most attention requires school resource officers, or SROs, to carry weapons.

Beshear told reporters he can’t ask the security officers to stop potential gunmen without having “the ability to not only achieve this mission but also protect themselves.”

The bill won bipartisan majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, but critics say the measure takes control away from local school districts and could contribute to some students feeling unsafe in schools. The governor said those voices will be part of the discussion as the state develops its training program for the officers.

"Getting it right is not just about training them to keep a school safe in the worst of the worst possibilities, but to start addressing the reasons some kids might not feel safe because of a police officer in a school," the Democrat said. 

The bill has received the most pushback in the state’s largest school district, Jefferson County, where local school leaders have been at odds over whether to arm resource officers. Beshear’s decision effectively makes the call for them.

The governor said he believes the bill gives districts leeway to stipulate whether the officers are carrying open or concealed firearms. 

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