LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields reiterated Monday her call for Jefferson County Public Schools to hire its own force of school resource officers.
Shields, who said last week that she would push the Jefferson County Board of Education to create an internal team of officers after 16-year-old Tyree Smith was killed Wednesday in a drive-by shooting at a bus stop in the Russell neighborhood, said LMPD currently lacks “the information that we need to know what's going to come back into our communities” without a law enforcement presence at schools.
Two other JCPS students were injured in the shooting.
“The violence that we’re seeing being committed in the communities does not end when the child gets on the bus and goes off to school for the day,” she said in a video posted Monday on Twitter by LMPD. “It goes into the schools.”
JCPS has been without school resource officers since the beginning of the 2019-20 school year after the city pulled 17 LMPD officers from schools because of budget constraints and contracts for 11 officers from other law enforcement agencies were not approved by the board.
Pollio said last week that talks of creating an internal school security force at JCPS would continue after they were suspended at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also questioned whether school resource officers could have prevented Smith’s death, which Shields said was the 21st death of a juvenile this year.
She described the fatal shooting of Smith as “a random act of violence” in her remarks Monday.
“To be clear, LMPD has no desire to be in the schools,” Shields said. “That is not our role. There are many successful school resource officer programs across the country, and I would hope that between the teachers, the students and the parents of students, we could all come to an agreement on what would best help us make this city safe.”
Board member Linda Duncan, who represents District 5, said last week that she hoped the board would soon hold a work session to finish policies for a JCPS school security team while board member Sarah Cole McIntosh, who represents District 7, said schools alone could not prevent violence in Louisville.
Hiring a team of school security officers would also pose "serious logistical hurdles for JCPS," McIntosh said in a statement Friday.
“Whether it is efforts to prevent young people from making poor choices or giving students tools to respond in healthy ways when exposed to violence, even indirectly, that has to be at the forefront of our conversation,” she said. “Officers can play a meaningful role in that work. It is imperative to understand we can’t simply ‘police’ our way into a peaceful community.”
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