LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Kentucky's largest school district goes back to class in one week, and this year, JCPS will not have school resource officers.
That split decision vote happened late Tuesday night at the board of education meeting.
“We’re 14 hours into this, 14 hours my job was kind of swept out from underneath me,” Jeffersontown Officer Steve Mattingly said.
Mattingly was the SRO at Jeffersontown High for more than seven years.
“It could be the toughest kid walking those halls, but once you get them in an office one on one, nobody there to judge them, we’re just having a talk,” Mattingly said. “They lived for that. There’s kids there that lived for that one on one male interaction they have not had and it’s gone. It’s gone.”
After two mass shootings just days ago, Mattingly said the timing of the vote couldn’t have been worse. He said he worries the students won’t feel safe.
“I think they’re going to feel a sense of insecurity; maybe time will heal that, but the initial void is going to be there and there’s nothing to completely fulfill that if I’m not going to be there every single day of the school year,” Mattingly said.
JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said he’s looking to get their own security team in place as soon as possible.
“Clearly we were hoping that the SROs would be approved so now we are looking forward to how we can adjust to support our schools,” Pollio said.
The district already has been working on the internal police unit, and the contracts with the outside law enforcement agencies would have served as a bridge until the internal security force is in place.
Originally, they planned for it to be in place by 2021, but Pollio said he hopes it can happen sooner now.
In the meantime, they’ll be moving the nine evening patrol officers to cover the 28 schools that had SROs last year.
“When you’re either a principal or a superintendent, one thing you’re always worried or concerned about is safety and improving the safety in schools, so it’s something we’re always concerned about,” Pollio said. “But we think with our plan, especially with an in-house security force that we’ve been working on, it will drastically increase the safety of our schools, and that’s what we want.”