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'We need to think about what school safety means': LMPD chief elaborates on vision JCPS school resource officers

Open and honest panel around SROs during Louisville Forum creates opportunity for real conversation.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On Wednesday, Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields gave a more in depth explanation as to what she believes would help in reducing the violence happening to kids in and outside of Jefferson County schools. 

"I do believe that it is possible to have police play a role in it. If you were to ask me today who would be the ideal candidates, it would be retirees," Shields said.

Shields said the retirees would report to the superintendent and that those officers wouldn't need a gun because they will know how to identify gang involvement 

"We have to do it very carefully and we have to do it the right way. Having armed LMPD officers or sheriffs in our buildings weren't leading to better outcomes in our city, "said James Craig, Jefferson County Board of Education.

At the beginning of 2020, the Jefferson County School Board created a plan to bring in their own officers and train them, but that plan was put on hold.

The last time JCPS had SROs was during the 2018-2019 school year.

"I'm not envisioning a bunch of old white guys in the schools. That's the whole point. The schools need to drive this," Shields said.

"I do believe that we need to think about what school safety means and safety does not always mean armed police officers it can mean a lot of different things," explained Dr. Cherie Dawson-Edwards, University of Louisville.

Students in attendance shared that there is a need for more of their voices in these conversations 

"I do think there should be a student council in correlation to the SROs," said Rikaiya Long, Junior at Central High. "Because right now we see a lot of different opinions and they all have different approaches and I think that they are stuck in those kinds of approaches and they're so close to being having a common ground it's just not clicking."

Currently JCPS has 10 special law enforcement officers that investigate criminal activity, and patrol school property.  

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