NEWPORT, Ky. — Kentucky state law requires each school in the commonwealth to have a school resource officer on site. Efforts toward getting more school resource officers (SRO) in schools seem to be paying off, with many more in positions compared to last year.
The State School Security Marshal and Kentucky Center for School Safety shared an update with the Legislative Research Committee this week, saying there are over 100 SROs across Kentucky compared to this time last year.
Carla Jones is a police officer with the Newport Police Department, where she’s been serving since 2012. She recently stepped into a new role as an SRO for the Newport Primary School.
Her job allows her to be a part of the school staff, and a familiar face the kids see daily while in class.
“Every morning it’s ‘Good morning’ and they enjoy seeing me and they like to ask me what all my equipment is. They like seeing me walk around,” she said.
Her role is to ensure the grounds are safe while school is in session.
“Typically, I’ll walk the halls. The doors are supposed to be locked when there’s instruction going on, so I’ll check that. Sometimes I wave in, but I don’t want to distract the kids too much because, at this age, they get easily distracted,” Jones explained.
Jones is going on year two of being an SRO in Newport. She had to go through a good bit of training before taking on this new role.
“It goes through everything from how you interact with the kids to what you can do, how to deal with parents, you know, having parents coming in and having issues. If there is a threat to the school and how we react and just going through everyday safety,” Jones shared.
Kentucky’s Department of Criminal Justice Training offers three levels of training to active, certified law enforcement serving as SROs.
Jones says it’s a good thing to hire more officers into Kentucky school systems because it gives kids a reassuring presence while they go to class.
“No matter what, in every school, I think there’s that one person that students can come to and look at as a role model or a counselor or if they just need general guidance. They feel comfortable coming to you and being able to talk to you,” she said.
The Office of the State School Security Marshal is finalizing their annual report on school safety, the resiliency act and school resource officers.
The Department of Criminal Justice Training share with Spectrum News that the report will be released by Sept. 1.