LOUISVILLE, Ky. — JCPS is putting together its policy for a new in-house security force, and the district is now just a few steps away from finalizing a plan.
The district's Board Policy Committee met Monday night to discuss policies. The plan includes calling officers "school safety officers" or "SSO's" in place of "SRO's."
The board said the name change is because the officers will be employed by Jefferson County Public Schools, and follow district training and policies. In outlining the new security plan, committee members noted the officers will undergo additional training, required by JCPS, on top of what is required by state law.
Monday's meeting was the first of two where the committee will discuss the plan. At the next policy committee meeting on Jan. 21, JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said more officer policies will be discussed in greater detail that "will define all of the specifics about the job responsibilities, what they do, what they can't do, the type of training they'll have, how well hire them, the cars that they'll drive, all of the various tools that they might have."
Dr. Pollio said it will be outlined in a standard operating procedures manual, which he said could be hundreds of pages long. It will also be reviewed at the full board work session on Jan. 28, with a potential board vote taking place on Feb. 11.
"The issues most talked about, those are the ones we'll want to highlight in the S.O.P before moving forward so that we can make sure they're aware of those," Dr. Pollio said.
Monday's meeting came the same day a Kentucky lawmaker introduced a bill that would amend the 2018 school safety bill, passed last legislative session.
Sen. Max Wise, (R-Campbellsville) introduced the amendment as Senate Bill 8. The changes include adding the word "armed" in front of "SRO" throughout the original bill. Wise said the changes were made after receiving feedback.
"What we think we've done is we've combined once again the hardening approach and the softening approach," he said in a phone interview Monday night.
Wise said it was a "mistake" not including the language in the first school safety bill, allowing JCPS board members to debate the issue.
"I've had legislators, and I've had parents who have contacted me saying they want armed security within the schools and so we are putting that word in there to change that part of the legislation for this upcoming session," Sen. Wise said. "It's almost an unforeseen conclusion that if you have school resource officers they would be armed within the schools and be armed with a firearm."
Sen. Wise said those outside of JCPS see the arming of SSO's as a "no-brainer," adding that he is happy to talk with board members, including Dr. Pollio, about the topic.
"How are you going to handle within the public school system there in Jefferson County issues like assault and god forbid something worse that could happen within a school building in a school district there of not having someone who is trained and a law enforcement personnel be able to be armed in the school district?" Wise said.
Dr. Pollio said Monday night he hadn't read SB8 yet.
"I was anticipating it as being a possibility. From what I know, I think our legislature is clear in Senate Bill 1 about what they're looking for in school resource officers but I haven't read the bill yet or seen what was filed so I can't comment specifically on that," Dr. Pollio said.
Sen. Wise said the bill wasn't introduced Monday to sway the board's decision. He said it was introduced Monday because of the timing of when priority bills were introduced this legislative session.