Governor Andy Beshear has signed a bill into law requiring all Kentucky school resource officers, or SROs, to carry a gun.
“The threats to our children in our schools is very real,” Beshear said, citing incidents where guns were found on school campuses, a thwarted school shooting plot in Shelby County, and the 2018 shooting in Marshall County.
“I simply cannot ask a school resource officer to stop an armed gunman entering a school without them having the ability to not only achieve this mission, but also to protect themselves,” he said.
All school resource officers are already armed, according to the Kentucky Center for School Safety. But the new law likely ends discussions in Jefferson County about creating an unarmed school police force. Some in Louisville worry arming school resource officers puts children of color at risk, and want local school boards to have control over deciding whether to arm SROs. Beshear said he hoped people with those concerns “felt heard.”
“We understand that there are some children in our schools that do not feel safe because of the presence of an armed officer, and that is something that we have to address,” he said.
State law allows the governor to sign a bill into law, veto it, or let it become law without his signature. A veto would probably have been overridden, given the strong level of support for the measure in the state house and senate. The measure passed the senate 34-1 and the house 78-8.
Kentucky abortion rights advocates hope that their lives will be easier with a Democratic governor in office, but they will still have to contend with a strongly anti-abortion legislature.
Tamarri Wieder is the public affairs and policy director for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. She says that Gov. Andy Beshear’s defeat of Gov. Matt Bevin last year shows that voters didn’t rally around anti-abortion causes.
“He tried to really use Andy Beshear’s pro-choice stances against him and it failed,” Wieder said.
“While the makeup of the General Assembly hasn’t changed, I think the voices and the votes in Kentucky are standing up and realizing the hypocrisy of these bills and how damaging they are to the commonwealth.”
Gov. Andy Beshear announced Friday that he has reinstated the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, which former Governor Matt Bevin abolished in July 2018.
“This is just one step that we are going to take to make sure that when our Kentuckians leave their family in the morning and head to work, it’s in the safest environment possible and that they know that they’ve got a state government that is looking out for their safety,” Beshear told KyCIR.