JCPS is working to hire school safety officers ahead of the 2022-23 school year

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – Jefferson County Public Schools hopes to have all security positions filled by the next school year, in accordance with its new security plan.

The plan places one unarmed school security administrator, or SSA, in each middle and high school and 30 armed school security officers, or SSOs, outside buildings patrolling certain areas. So far, 50 people have applied for both job categories and five applicants are certified police officers.

To become an SSO, an employee must achieve Professional Peace Officer Standards or POPS certification. Thirteen members of the current JCPS security team are participating in the 20-week police academy to earn POPS certification, according to the district.

“We believe we have an opportunity to truly redefine what policing looks like in a school district and how it can be a partnership to promote safety,” said Chris Perkins, JCPS chief operating officer.

Chief Perkins says they should be fully staffed, but not all will be sworn law enforcement officers by the time school starts. They will not bear arms and will not have the power to make arrests.

However, some believe the district’s plan is inadequate because it does not put armed officers inside school buildings.

Former Iroquois High School teacher Mike Beard told WAVE News he remembers when JCPS armed school resource officers inside schools and said it was a positive experience. He wants to see the district bring that plan back.

“These board members will say at all their meetings, they will talk about how important student safety is to them, it’s their top priority, but they don’t want these armed security guards inside. of the building where they need to be,” Barbe said.

Beard isn’t the only person to believe this.

Kentucky lawmakers passed a law in the last legislative session requiring school districts to place an armed police officer inside every building or work towards that goal with state assistance.

While JCPS may not be in compliance with the law, Perkins told WAVE News that the state safety marshal understands the challenges the district faces trying to comply with the law.

“I think the intent or the spirit of the law is to do that as funding and personnel allow,” Perkins said. “We can’t manifest people in positions, so we’ll develop that and build it however we can.”

Beard said SSOs the district manages to hire should be placed inside buildings because officers can more quickly mitigate danger in the event of a situation.

“If security is your most important issue for your students, the state legislature shouldn’t have to legislate that you have to have an armed officer in your building, you should do it yourself, but they had to. do, and they’re still not following that instruction from lawmakers,” Beard said. “They’re breaking the law, they’re not putting an armed officer in the building.”

13 current JCPS security team members are POP certified.

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Susan W. Lloyd