FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed legislation Friday to require that law enforcement officers carry weapons when assigned to provide security at schools.
The measure won strong bipartisan support in the House and Senate.
“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,” the governor told reporters. “We must be able to stop the worst of the worst.”
The measure is a follow-up to last year’s sweeping school safety law, which did not specify whether school police officers needed to carry a weapon.
The issue of arming school-based officers has sparked debate in the state’s largest school district. In Jefferson County, which includes Louisville, the local school board has been divided over whether to arm officers while crafting plans for a district-managed police force.
Beshear said he hopes those concerns can be alleviated through the training of school-based officers.
The school safety efforts are in response to the 2018 shooting at Marshall County High School in western Kentucky, where two 15-year-old students, Bailey Holt and Preston Cope, were killed and more than a dozen others were injured when another student opened fire.