Governor Andy Beshear has signed a bill into law requiring all Kentucky school resource officers, or SROs, to carry a gun.
“The threats to our children in our schools is very real,” Beshear said, citing incidents where guns were found on school campuses, a thwarted school shooting plot in Shelby County, and the 2018 shooting in Marshall County.
“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 this mission, but also to protect themselves,” he said.
All school resource officers are already armed, according to the Kentucky Center for School Safety. But the new law likely ends discussions in Jefferson County about creating an unarmed school police force. Some in Louisville worry arming school resource officers puts children of color at risk, and want local school boards to have control over deciding whether to arm SROs. Beshear said he hoped people with those concerns “felt heard.”
“We understand that there are some children in our schools that do not feel safe because of the presence of an armed officer, and that is something that we have to address,” he said.
State law allows the governor to sign a bill into law, veto it, or let it become law without his signature. A veto would probably have been overridden, given the strong level of support for the measure in the state house and senate. The measure passed the senate 34-1 and the house 78-8.