Our View: SRO bill a good move for school safety

Published 9:00 am Thursday, January 30, 2020

The threat of school shootings seems ever more present in recent years, especially after the situation hit close to home in 2018 with a shooting at Marshall County High School that left two students dead and 18 others injured.

With these threats comes a need for heightened school security measures.

The Kentucky General Assembly took some necessary steps during the 2019 regular session when it passed an impressive bill aimed at improving school safety measures.

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Senate Bill 1, “The School Safety and Resiliency Act” called for creating a statewide school security marshal, required suicide prevention training for school staff and hiring more resource officers and mental health professionals at schools.

During this session, lawmakers are looking at strengthening that legislation with measures to further improve safety at Kentucky schools.

The proposed bill takes aim at several key components of school safety, including adding more mental health resources for students and heightening physical security measures.

If Senate Bill 8, which cleared the Senate by a vote of 34-1 Monday, becomes law, all school resource officers across the state will be required to carry firearms. We believe arming SROs will be a critical step to improving safety at our schools.

We are glad to learn that Clark County Public Schools SROs are already armed.

We hope our SROs never have to use their firearms, but if there is ever a threat at a local school, we feel more confident in the protections offered to our local children with armed security.

We are particularly proud to see that Clark County seems to be ahead of the game in terms of school security compared to other districts around the state.

As Sun reporter Randy Patrick revealed in a story that published in Wednesday’s edition of The Sun, Clark County Public Schools have made significant security upgrades and other safety measures since the school safety bill passed in the last session.

Other schools around the state could benefit from following our lead.

School resource officers should be treated like other peace officers. Much like law enforcement officers have a duty to protect their communities, SROs have an obligation to protect their schools.

It’s unfortunate, but arming our school security has become a necessity in today’s world.

Rep. Tom Buford said simply — “don’t take a knife to a gun fight.” Should gun violence be a threat at a school, the best tool to stop the perpetrator will be a firearm in the hands of a trained and skilled law enforcement officer. The first officer on scene will undoubtedly be a school resource officer.

Why put security officers at a school and not give them the tools to do their jobs?

As long as these officers are held to the same or comparable standards at other law enforcement officers in terms of training and continuing education, they should have the necessary resources to protect and serve their schools to the best of their abilities.