JCPS plan to create own police force is news to agencies under SRO contracts

Agencies under SRO contracts: JCPS plan to create own police force is news to us
The proposal, if passed, would establish the JCPS Division of School Security. (Source: JCPS)
The proposal, if passed, would establish the JCPS Division of School Security. (Source: JCPS)
JCPS started looking into alternatives following a fight between officers and students at Jtown High School sparked protests. (Source: WAVE 3 News Archive)
JCPS started looking into alternatives following a fight between officers and students at Jtown High School sparked protests. (Source: WAVE 3 News Archive)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A new security proposal for Jefferson County Public Schools would remove officers who work for local agencies, and instead hire trained officers who would work only for the school system.

It would create the JCPS Division of School Security, with its own police chief, who would answer directly to Superintendent Marty Pollio.

Establishing a force of JCPS security officers with arrest powers would not be cheap, but the district hopes it would help improve the safety and culture of schools by building officer-student relationships.

>> READ: JCPS Division of School Security Proposal

The plan, which must be voted on to take affect, would put a security officer in every JCPS high school and middle school, and end current School Resource Officer (SRO) contracts with area police departments like the Louisville Metro Police Department and Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

It would be put into action during the 2019-20 school year, increasing the presence of officers in schools from 29 to 48. The proposal would cost $2.4 million to set up and $8.8 million to operate each year.

The district isn't saying if the security officers would carry guns.

The proposal would end the $3.5 million current contract with outside agencies. LMPD, which provides the most SROs, had no comment about the proposal.

A spokesman for the Jefferson County Sheriff, the second biggest provider, told us Sheriff John Aubrey is only concerned about the safety of the children. But he added that the sheriff's office found out about the plan from the media, not from JCPS.

The incident that really got the conversation and controversy going was on Nov. 1, 2017. There was a fight between Jeffersontown Police officers and students at Jeffersontown High School that ended with two arrests and one student tased.

Some parents and activist groups said the use of force was excessive.

Chanelle Helm, with Black Lives Matter, spoke positively about the proposal.

"I think this is a win, especially for where we were the day before November 1st," she said.

Helm said it's still early, but so far, she likes what she's hearing about the proposed change.

School board member Chris Brady said he likes the change of having internal officers who report to JCPS Security and the superintendent, instead of a police chief.

JCTA President Brent McKim agrees.

"When the officer reports to someone else," McKim said, "I think that allows opportunities for confusion."

JCPS researched other urban public districts like Duval County, Florida that saw success with a similar program going from 324 arrests in 2014-15, down to 68 last year.

Three years ago, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office won the honor of being the top performing SRO unit in the country for its training and its relationship-building with students. They have eight SROs in JCPS that will have to be re-assigned after this year, if the plan is approved.

The proposal could be voted on at the next school board meeting, Tuesday, Aug. 7.

Copyright 2018 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.