LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The plans for Jefferson County Public Schools' in-house security force are nearly complete and the plans include giving school safety officers the power to carry a weapon and make arrests.
"At this point, our intent is to recommend that the officers would be armed," JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said.
The planned 19 officers, who are stationed inside the schools, would carry a handgun with three fully loaded magazines. They'd also be required to complete two weapons qualifications per year. Although, the officers could only use their weapon if they believe they're defending a human life.
"Our intention, first of all, is definitely around student support and school safety, I mean there is no doubt about it," Dr. Pollio said.
JCPS may not even have a say at all if officers should carry a weapon, if a bill proposed by Republican Kentucky Sen. Max Wise passes this legislative session. The bill would require school officers across the state to be armed.
"This is not something that just is created overnight and so doing this work is challenging and difficult, and a lot of it was Senate Bill 1 but clearly we're watching Senate Bill 8 to see where that goes and what we need to do with it," Dr. Pollio said.
In the proposal, officers would not wear standard police uniforms, as board members have expressed concerns they don't want the schools operating like a police force. Officers will also carry a taser, handcuffs and a baton.
A point of heavy discussion at Tuesday night's policy committee meeting, was that officers will be able to arrest students.
The arrest power does have some caveats. Officers could choose to release students to a parent or guardian, or give a citation instead of making an arrest. Officers also wouldn't be able to handcuff a student under 12 years old.
Each year, SSO's would undergo 100 hours of training on topics including diversity awareness, deescalation tactics, and youth mental health.
The policy committee will meet again on February 4th. Dr. Pollio said a board vote now may not happen until March.
The plan is still to have security officers trained over the summer and in schools by the start of the next school year.