LEXINGTON, Ky. — In Kentucky, lawmakers have taken action to make sure private schools are just as secured as public schools. Friday, the governor signed into law HB 540 which allows private and parochial schools to enter into agreements with local law enforcement for School Resource Officer services.
House Bill 540 signed into law Friday now allows any school — public, private or parochial — to have a designated school resource officer to its campus. Sponsors of the bill say it’s all about response time when it comes to emergency situations.
State Rep. Chad Aull, D-Lexington, said it prepares all schools for the worst situation — an active shooter.
“Inevitably, if another one of these horrible circumstances were to happen in our community, we have somebody who’s there, trained and ready to respond in a very, very quick manner,” Aull said.
Last year, HB 63 was signed into law, which requires every school in the Commonwealth to have a school resource officer on campus but didn’t specifically include private schools.
“When we saw that the current legislation would not allow a partnership to be created with local law enforcement or the Kentucky State Police, I reached out to ask him about pulling together this legislation,” said Fayette County Sheriff Kathy Witt.
Aull said HB 540 expanded the language of last year’s bill to include all Kentucky schools.
“What this new bill allows is for that school to enter into this agreement to basically reimburse the sheriff for their cost,” Aull said.
Gov. Andy Beshear, D-KY, signed the bill into law Friday in Lexington surrounded by lawmakers and police.
“Kentucky is a national leader in school safety, we work everyday to make sure our schools are safe,” Beshear said.
Lexington Christian Academy already has two full-time SROs from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, and many other private schools have partnerships with their local law enforcement.
The Superintendent of Schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville, Mary Beth Bowling, said in a statement that, “the safety of our students is a top concern,” and that the diocese appreciates the General Assembly clarifying the law to enhance school safety measures.
Aull said this was the perfect example of both parties working together for a common good.
“Protecting kids in schools is not a Democrat or Republican issue, it’s a public safety issue for our children,” Aull said.
Witt said the bills signing allow her office to expand SRO service to other private schools.
Beshear also signed into law Friday SB 89, which allows cities to reemploy retired officers, and HB 380 which expands eligibility for peace officer training for anyone not yet 21 but will turn 21 by the time their certification occurs.