With the Board of Education’s blessing on January 27, JCPS had a plan.
If the district couldn’t have a dedicated and armed School Resource Officer on-site, throughout the day, at each of its 165 schools, then the district would assign an armed School Safety Officer (S.S.O.) to patrol three to seven schools.
The goal is to have 30 S.S.O.’s, but ahead of Wednesday’s first day of school, the district is well short.
“We’re short 13,” Chris Perkins, Chief Operations Officer at JCPS, said. “So we won’t get to 30 armed police officers before the first day of school.”
The district says it currently has 12 S.S.O.’s on staff and have five new hires with law enforcement experience.
However, those five must put in 120 hours of training for state required S.R.O. certification.
In the meantime, every JCPS middle school and high school are supposed to have at least one safety administrator, but that person is unarmed.
“I think that’s basically like saying let’s get a slingshot and a rock,” Sen. Max Wise, R-District 16, said.
New laws mandate every school needs an S.R.O.:
Following the deadly mass shooting at Marshall County High School on January 23, 2018, Senator Wise authored legislation in 2019, which became law, mandating that every single public school or shared school campus must have an S.R.O.
Wise says an S.R.O.’s primary responsibility is developing relationships with students, so that they can feel comfortable coming to that officer for help and concerns.
If a serious threat exists, such as an active shooter, then the S.R.O. is right there for an immediate response.
“Someone is on scene and someone is armed,” Wise said.
That’s why both he and State Rep. Kevin Bratcher, R-District 29, feel JCPS’s plan falls short on security, even though they acknowledge the plan is at least a step in the right direction.
Bratcher was behind House Bill 63 last legislative session, which reinforced the mandate for a school police presence at all times when class is in session.
“They (JCPS) need to follow the law as it’s written and not try to always skirt around,” Bratcher said. “We want the threat to be neutralized quickly…you just can’t do that with just an unarmed, untrained security person.”
Bratcher questions what the response time would be with patrolling JCPS S.S.O.’s.
So, we questioned Perkins about the potential problem of an S.S.O. having to travel from one school to another in an active shooter scenario.
His response, “Again, I think the intent is to be able to provide better support than we’ve ever provided before.”
The Office of the State School Security Marshal’s latest risk assessment report, from 2020-21, shows that 57% of Kentucky public schools did not have an assigned S.R.O. pursuant to state law.
The next risk assessment report is expected to be released to the public in September. State School Security Marshal Ben Wilcox says that report will show much promise and progress.
“We’re transitioning from a compliance that schools have to do this to a commitment that the schools are getting used to do these things,” Wilcox said.
The law allows for districts to come up with alternative safety plans if funding or staffing issues exist.
Wilcox just has to sign off on them.
After repeated requests for a progress report on JCPS’s plan, his office has yet to respond.
How many S.R.O.s are at my student's school?:
Jefferson County Public Schools
- Goal is for 30 armed S.S.O.’s (School Safety Officer) with each one patrolling 3 to 7 schools.
- 17 S.S.O.’s (School Safety Officer); of those 17, there are 5 new hires and all have law enforcement backgrounds.
- 9 current district security monitors in training to be accepted into the police academy to eventually become S.S.O.’s.
- Every middle school and high school will have at least 1 unarmed safety administrator.
- Starting pay for an S.S.O. with no prior law enforcement experience begins just over $47,000; once that S.S.O. completes the police academy and becomes Peace Officer Professional Standards (POPS) certified, salary increases to almost $52,000.
- S.S.O.’s with prior law enforcement experience will start at an increased salary based on the number of years of experience.
Oldham County Schools
- 10 S.R.O.’s total
- 1 or more assigned to shared school campuses and clusters of schools and 1 assigned to more isolated schools, including Centerfield Elementary and La Grange Elementary
- List of assignments:
- ❏ Locust Grove, EOMS - Officer Matt Lay
- ❏ OCHS, BAHS, Arvin - Officer Tracy Witt
- ❏ OCMS, Buckner, OC Preschool - Officer Andrew Hamilton
- ❏ Centerfield - Officer Jimmy Laytham
- ❏ NOMS, NOHS, Harmony - Officer Paul Kerr
- ❏ Goshen (Primary), Harmony - Officer Greg Ford
- ❏ Camden, SOMS - Officer Bo Simpson
- ❏ Kenwood, SOHS - Officer Thomas Moore
- ❏ Crestwood, OC Arts Center - Officer Mike Head
- ❏ Lagrange - Officer Jeff Dawson
- S.R.O.’s are a partnership between the Oldham County Board of Education and Oldham County Police and La Grange Police.
- Oldham County Schools pays the officers’ salaries, about $360,000 total.
Bullitt County Schools
- 8 S.R.O.’s total
- Not all schools have an assigned S.R.O.
- 1 dedicated S.R.O. for Bullitt East High School, North Bullitt High School, and Central High School.
- Remaining 5 S.R.O.’s are assigned to groups of elementary and middle schools:
- 1 for Cedar Grove Elementary, Roby Elementary, Shepherdsville Elementary, and Bullitt Lick Middle School.
- 1 for Freedom Elementary, Maryville Elementary, and Hebron Middle School.
- 1 for Bullitt Alternative Center, Riverview Opportunity Center, and Area Technology Center (all share a campus).
- 1 for Brooks Elementary, Overdale Elementary, and Zoneton Middle School.
- 1 for Lebanon Junction Elementary, Nichols Elementary, and Bernheim Middle School.
- Schools without an assigned S.R.O. are visited by police agencies, which teach D.A.R.E. programs and conduct safety visits and school walkthroughs.
- S.R.O.’s are contracted through Mt. Washington Police, the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office, Shepherdsville Police and Hillview Police.
- The district pays $40/hr., up to $60,000 per year; Mt. Washington Police and Shepherdsville Police provides an S.R.O. at no cost to the district.
Hardin County Schools
- 15 S.R.O.’s for 23 schools.
- S.R.O.’s have assignments at all campuses throughout the day.
- S.R.O.’s are through a partnerships (Memorandums of Understanding) with the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office, Elizabethtown Police and Radcliff Police.
- District pays $623,000 for S.R.O.’s.
Shelby County Schools
- 3 S.R.O.’s assigned to 12 schools and an area technology area.
- 1 S.R.O. per 4 schools, either sharing a campus or the schools are in close proximity to each other.
- S.R.O.’s provided through a contract with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
Meade County Schools
- 2 S.R.O.’s for 8 schools.
- Added second S.R.O. last winter; first year with 2 S.R.O.’s .
- S.R.O.’s provided through a partnership with the Meade County Sheriff’s Office and Brandenburg Police.
Grayson County Schools
- 3 S.R.O.’s for 6 schools in the district.
- The S.R.O.’s cover 5 campuses; 1 assigned to Grayson County Middle School and Wilkey Elementary, 1 assigned to Grayson County High School/Technology Center and Lawler Elementary, and 1 dedicated to Clarkson Elementary; currently looking for an S.R.O. for Caneyville Elementary.
- S.R.O.’s provided by Leitchfield Police and Clarkson Police.
- District shares in the cost of S.R.O.’s and the police departments, if the S.R.O. is employed by the police department; if not, the district pays the S.R.O. between $25,000 and $35,000.
Larue County Schools
- 1 S.R.O. for 4 schools; 3 schools share the same campus…Larue County High School, Larue County Middle School and Hodgenville Elementary School.
- S.R.O. based out of Larue County High School.
- S.R.O. is a partnership with Hodgenville Police; half paid by the district through school safety grants and half paid by police.
- S.R.O. is budgeted for about $40,000.
Taylor County Schools
- School district has its own police department, the Taylor County Schools Police Department.
- There are 5 S.R.O.’s for 5 schools, so each school has a dedicated S.R.O.
- Taylor County Primary (Pre K-2nd grade) , Intermediate (3rd Grade-5th Grade) and Middle Schools (6th Grade-8th Grade) share the same campus, so a total of 3 S.R.O.’s onsite.
- 1 S.R.O. for Taylor County High School (grades 9-12) and 1 for the Central Kentucky Career Academy (grades 9-12).
***Campbellsville has own school district/Campbellsville Independent Schools***
Campbellsville Independent Schools
- 2 S.R.O.’s covering 2 school campuses with 3 schools total.
- 2nd S.R.O. added for this year.
- 1 S.R.O. assigned to Campbellsville Middle and High Schools (shared campus) and 1 assigned to the Campbellsville Elementary School.
- District pays about $150,000 for S.R.O.’s which includes their salaries, uniforms, police cars, etc.
Trimble County Schools
- 1 S.R.O. for 3 schools in the district.
- S.R.O. is through a contract with the Trimble County Sheriff’s Office.
- District pay $20,000 for S.R.O.
Spencer County Schools
- 2 part-time S.R.O.’s for 5 schools; Spencer County Elementary School and Middle School share a campus.
- The part-time S.R.O.’s spend much of their time at Spencer County Middle School and High School.
- S.R.O.’s are contracted through Taylorsville Police.
- District pays about $58,000 for the S.R.O.’s.
Breckinridge County Schools
- 1 S.R.O. for 6 schools.
- Starts his day at Breckinridge County High School.
- District finalizing financial information to add a S.R.O. as soon as possible.
- S.R.O. is through a contract with the Breckinridge County Sheriff’s Office.
- District pays $30,000 annually, while Breckinridge County Fiscal Court adds another $12,000.
Green County Schools
- 1 S.R.O. for 5 schools in the district.
- Currently trying to hire a 2nd S.R.O.
- S.R.O. is contracted through the Greensburg Police Department.
- District pays $85,000.
Adair County Schools
- 1 S.R.O. per school building; 4 schools in district.
- S.R.O. program is a contract with the Columbia Police Department and the Adair County Sheriff’s Office.
- District pays $50,000 over 10 months.
Henry County Schools
- 1 S.R.O. for 6 schools on four campuses.
- Hoping to add a 2nd S.R.O. this school year.
- S.R.O. is contracted through the Henry County Sheriff’s Office.
- Salary for the S.R.O. is about $44,000, plus expenses.
Marion County Public Schools
- 2 S.R.O.’s for 8 schools.
- S.R.O.’s serve schools located within Lebanon city limits, primarily Marion County High School and Marion County Knight Academy.
- S.R.O.’s are a partnership with the Lebanon Police Department.
- Cost for S.R.O.’s is split with Lebanon Police during the school year.
Washington County Schools
- 1 S.R.O. for 5 schools.
- Currently looking to add another S.R.O.; partnering with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Springfield City Police Department to hire another S.R.O.
- Projected cost for S.R.O. is $50,000.
Carroll County Schools
- 4 S.R.O.’s for 4 school buildings
- S.R.O.’s provided through a partnership with the Carrollton Police Department.
- District reimburses the Carrollton Police Department for the services of the 4 S.R.O.’s for a total of around $100,000 a year.