LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – School resource officers provided by Louisville police would be called back into the field by July 1 under a budget proposal unveiled by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer on Thursday.
Metro police provide 17 of the 28 resource officers at Jefferson County Public Schools, which pays $419,965 for them. The Jefferson County Board of Education has had some discussions of hiring its own security force, although no proposal has materialized.
During a school board work session this week, board member Chris Brady said talks on establishing a security force should be resumed sooner rather than later.
What’s more, Kentucky’s General Assembly passed a sweeping initiative during this year’s legislative session to improve school safety across the state in light of the fatal shooting at Marshall County High School last year.
Fischer said LMPD expects to lose about 40 officers this year. Pulling those officers from JCPS schools will help mitigate that staffing loss, he said.
JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio “is aware” of his budget proposal, Fischer told reporters, noting that the school district is its own taxing district and has a budget about three times the size of the city’s.
“They will have their own school safety strategy, which we’ll coordinate with LMPD,” Fischer said. “But it’s important for us to maximize every resource we have on what our citizens are paying in our specific taxing district.”
LMPD provides SROs for the following schools, according to JCPS: Atkinson Elementary, Portland Elementary, Meyzeek Middle, Stuart Middle, Western Middle, Highland Middle, Thomas Jefferson Middle, Kammerer Middle, Lassiter Middle, Westport Middle, Newburg Middle, Southern High, Fairdale High, Marion C. Moore School, Academy @ Shawnee, PRP High, Atherton High and Valley High.
Fischer’s budget proposal also comes about a week after a resource officer stopped a suspended Valley High School student as he was walking toward the school, finding a loaded revolver and a box of ammunition in his pockets. Police say Valley’s SRO spotted the teen walking toward the school, and the officer is identified as the arresting officer in court records. The arrest citation lists the officer as LMPD.
JCPS spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin said the district is "assessing how this proposal would impact the district and will be evaluating what steps we can take to continue supporting our schools."
Brady, the school board member, told WDRB News that Fischer's proposal "puts our students and staff in a precarious position for the next school year."
He said other areas of the city's budget should be on the chopping block, such as expenses related to Kentucky Derby celebrations, and the Metro Council should consider things like increasing insurance premiums before LMPD officers are pulled from schools.
Brady noted that he wasn't surprised by the proposal since local governments are facing rising pension costs.
"This is one of the reasons why I've been asking the district to expedite the plan for creating an in-house school security team since it was first discussed a year and a half ago," Brady said. "Hopefully, we will now move forward with this plan with the urgency it should've had all along."
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