LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Jefferson County Board of Education’s policy committee continued poring over proposed procedures for the district’s team of school security officers on Tuesday, with the thorny issue of whether the officers should be allowed to carry guns in schools still unresolved.
The panel spent the bulk of its time discussing what arrest powers the officers should have, particularly over juveniles age 12 or older.
The proposed standard operating procedures for school security officers at Jefferson County Public Schools call for juveniles between the ages of 12 and 17 to either be cited and released to a guardian or physically arrested.
School safety officers would have the discretion to arrest minors in school, but they would be required to contact the school’s principal and the executive administrator of school safety before placing a student in handcuffs, according to the draft standard operating procedures manual.
Arrests are discouraged for students younger than 12 unless for the “most egregious crimes,” the draft manual says. Officers would be required to consult with the executive administrator of school safety before arresting a juvenile younger than 12 under the proposed policies, which also state that those younger than 12 must receive a citation and be released to their guardian.
The draft manual also says that safe crisis management restraint techniques must be used if a juvenile younger than 12 is “an imminent danger” and that handcuffs are prohibited in those instances.
Board member James Craig, who represents District 3, said he would like the manual to clearly state that handcuffs should never be used on someone younger than 12 at JCPS.
“I don’t want to just limit the prohibition to when the juvenile’s a danger,” Craig said. “It should just be a standalone point.”
Board member Linda Duncan, who represents District 5 and chairs the policy committed, disagreed.
“Sometimes I think to get control, the officer has to have some discretion about what he’s dealing with,” Duncan said. “… A 12-year-old can be a big kid, and I think we need to be careful about saying never because a situation may call for something else.”
Others suggested clarifying exactly what can lead to an arrest at a JCPS school. While “egregious” felonies would be handled in conjunction with local law enforcement and other felonies would also lead to arrests, school security officers would have discretion over whether to arrest for misdemeanors.
Board member Joe Marshall, who represents District 4, said JCPS risks losing trust with families without clarifying exactly what circumstances can lead to a student’s arrest on campus.
“I don’t need that officer in the moment going, ‘Is he 11? 12? 13? 14? Does he have a 504 plan? Does he have an IEP?’” Marshall said, referring to special accommodations for students. “I need him to be able to respond and that we’re clear about what their response should be in the school setting.”
The policy committee did not take any votes during Tuesday’s meetings or discuss the divisive issue of whether officers should be allowed to carry firearms on school campuses. The proposed procedures call for the officers to carry a loaded, district-issued handgun with three magazines.
That issue could be moot if lawmakers pass Senate Bill 8, which would require school resource officers at every school to be armed, during this year’s legislative session.
“Clearly we're watching Senate Bill 8 to see where that goes and what we need to do as a result," JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said, noting that the district's school security officers would be armed under the draft procedures manual presented Tuesday.
Pollio said he expects the full school board to vote on the school security officer policies and procedures at the board's March business meeting.
The policy committee is slated to continue its discussions Feb. 4.
Copyright 2020 by WDRB Media. All rights reserved.