Cameron says SROs provide ‘safety’ for Kentucky students and teachers

School resource officers were removed from JCPS schools in 2019.
Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 6:52 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As the debate over school resource officers continues in Jefferson County, Kentucky’s Attorney General announced his support for officers in public schools.

“I support the idea of having SROs in our schools,” Daniel Cameron said Wednesday.

Cameron was in Frankfort for a pro-life news conference but answered questions about SROs and what he believes they provide students and teachers.

“Safety,” Cameron said. “You’re no stranger to the fact that we had a kid waiting at the bus stop whose life was ended and an SRO in that particular instance wouldn’t have been there. But we’ve got a serious challenge in Jefferson County and if we can put officers in our schools to help maintain safety, then I’m all for it.”

The topic of SROs in Jefferson County Public Schools has become hotly contested. Several JCPS students, parents and others gathered outside Central High School to protest against having armed resource officers in schools as the Jefferson County School Board adjourned its Tuesday night meeting. The issue of resource officers in schools was not on the board’s agenda.

The protest came two weeks after three JCPS students in the Russell neighborhood were shot waiting for the school bus in the early morning. Eastern High School student Tyree Smith died after being rushed to the hospital.

Hours after the 16-year-old’s death, Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Erika Shields expressed concern about JCPS’ lack of school resource officers after the deadly shooting.

“I am going to bang this drum loudly, but I am going to be leaning in on the board of education,” Shields said at the time. “JCPS has to have its own police department.”

JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said it would not have been possible to prevent the shooting with school officers because it was a drive-by incident not on school grounds and a reflection of the rising violent crime facing juveniles in Louisville.

In Kentucky, the School Safety and Resiliency Act requires an armed school resource officer at each school campus as funds allow. At last check, Jefferson County is one of seven Kentucky counties without SROs in schools.

Wednesday afternoon, two students were arrested at Seneca High School for their alleged involvement in an armed carjacking on Sept. 29. One of the students was found with a loaded stolen gun.

Across the county on the same day, four people were hurt after an armed student in Arlington, Texas opened fire in a classroom. Law enforcement at the scene praised the quick response of SROs in that school building, and their ability to render aid seconds after the shooting occurred.

Alex Payne believe the shooting in Texas should signal to JCPS it’s time to make the financial commitment before it’s too late. Payne served as a law enforcement officer for years, serving as the former Deputy Commissioner of Kentucky State Police, where he trained SROs before they entered the classroom.

”You’re not only playing with fire, you’re playing around the fire with charcoal starter, charcoal fluid and gas,” Payne said. “I boil it down to that moment that nobody wants to even think about, but yet happens. [The moment is] when you have a student body confronted with an armed individual in their environment wanting to do them harm. So, at that very instant, my question is, who’s going to protect them?”

He believes the roadblocks of manpower and money should not impede JCPS from providing the extra security for students.

”I mean, are you kidding me?” Payne said. “Money and manpower. Are we not smart enough as a society, as a city, as a state, a nation to come together and develop solutions to those minor (roadblocks) ... in comparison to threat of death? I mean, come on.”

WAVE 3 News asked Cameron Wednesday if he was investigating JCPS for being out of compliance with the School Safety and Resiliency Act. Cameron said that he didn’t know the specifics of any possible investigation.

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