Skip to Main Content

School Safety: Debating State Policies

Renee Shaw and guests discuss school safety. Guests: Commissioner Jason Glass, Ky. Dept. of Education; State Sen. Majority Whip Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green); State Rep. Attica Scott (D-Louisville); Chief Martin Schafer, Fayette Co. Public Schools Police Dept.; Dedeeh Newbern, Chief of Student Support, Fayette Co. Public Schools; and Chief Chris Barrier, Montgomery Co. School District Police Dept.
Season 29 Episode 29 Length 56:33 Premiere: 08/01/22


Kentucky Tonight

KET’s Kentucky Tonight, hosted by Renee Shaw, brings together an expert panel for in-depth analysis on major issues facing the Commonwealth.

This weekly program features comprehensive discussions with lawmakers, stakeholders and policy leaders that are moderated by award-winning journalist Renee Shaw. Often aired live, viewers are encouraged to participate by submitting questions real-time via email, Twitter or KET’s online form.
For nearly three decades, Kentucky Tonight has been a source for complete and balanced coverage of the most urgent and important public affairs developments in the state of Kentucky.

Viewers with questions and comments may send e-mail to or use the contact form. All messages should include first and last name and town or county. The phone number for viewer calls during the program is 1-800-494-7605.

After broadcast, Kentucky Tonight programs are available on and via podcast (iTunes or Android). Files are normally accessible within 24 hours after the television broadcast.

Kentucky Tonight was awarded a 1997 regional Emmy by the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The series was also honored with a 1995 regional Emmy nomination.

To purchase a DVD:
Call 1-800-945-9167 or e-mail


KET Mondays • 8/7 pm


Watch on KET’s website anytime or through the PBS Video App.


The Kentucky Tonight podcast features each episode’s audio for listening.

Renee Shaw is Moderator and Director of Public Affairs for Kentucky Educational Television, currently serving as host of KET’s Kentucky Tonight, Connections, election coverage, Legislative Update and KET Forums.

Since joining KET in 1997, Shaw has produced numerous KET public affairs series and specials, including KET’s nationally recognized legislative coverage. Under her leadership, KET has expanded its portfolio of public affairs content to include Kentucky Supreme Court coverage, town hall-style forums, and multi-platform program initiatives around issues such as opioid addiction and youth mental health.  

As an award-winning journalist, Shaw has earned top awards from the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, earning two regional Emmy awards, and an award from the Kentucky Associated Press for political coverage of the state legislature. She was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2017. She has been honored by the AKA Beta Gamma Omega Chapter with a Coretta Scott King Spirit of Ivy Award; earned the state media award from the Kentucky Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2019; named a Charles W. Anderson Laureate by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet in 2019 honoring her significant contributions in addressing socio-economic issues; earned the Anthony Lewis Media Award from the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy for her work on criminal justice reform in 2014; and, in 2015, received the Green Dot Award for her coverage of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.  

In 2018, KET earned a national media award from Mental Health America for its multi-dimensional content on the opioid epidemic shepherded by Shaw. That same year, she co-produced and moderated a six-part series on youth mental health that was awarded first place in educational content by NETA, the National Educational Telecommunications Association. In 2019, Shaw was recognized by The Kentucky Gazette as one of the 50 most notable women in Kentucky politics and government. In addition, Renee was awarded the Charles W. Anderson Laureate Award by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions in addressing socio-economic issues.

Host Renee Shaw smiling in a green dress with a KET set behind her.

Panelists Discuss Mandated School Resource Officers and Other Safety Measures for Public Schools

As the 2022-2023 school year gets underway across the commonwealth, many students will encounter new faces in their hallways and classrooms: those of school resource officers.

The Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year requiring every public school campus in the state have at least one of these armed law enforcement officers in place by Aug. 1 to provide security for students, teachers, and staff while at school.

“Kids do their best learning when they feel safe and they feel loved,” says Montgomery County Schools Director of Law Enforcement Chris Barrier. “Having an SRO in the building is going to help with that.”

Some school districts have formed their own police departments to staff their SRO needs, while other districts are working with local law enforcement to fill the positions.

But the Kentucky Center for School Safety indicates there could be as many as 600 campuses around the state that will not have an SRO in place by this week’s deadline.

Qualified SRO candidates are in short supply in some areas. SROs in Kentucky are required to have 120 hours of specialized training over three years.

A bigger issue is a lack of funding to hire the needed officers. While the legislature required an SRO for every campus, they did not appropriate the money to fulfill that mandate.

“That creates a tough question at every school district in the state (which) is what are you going to do without in order to have that,” says Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason Glass. “Do I do without a counselor or a teacher? Do I increase class sizes? Do I do without certain supports?”

Glass estimates it will cost about $100 million a year to fulfill the SRO mandate statewide. He, along with the Kentucky Education Association, argues that lawmakers should allocate money to help school districts that lack the fiscal resources to hire the necessary SROs.

But state Sen. Majority Whip Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green) contends superintendents should already have plenty of resources to afford these new positions.

“We did appropriate $13 million to school safety,” says Wilson. “We also appropriated $575 additional million to the schools in total this year. So it was record funding to school systems.”

Pros and Cons of Police in Schools

SROs have been a feature of public education since the late 1990s to combat an increase in crime and drug problems at some schools. More districts added armed officers after the 1999 Columbine, Co. massacre.

Kentucky lawmakers recommended school districts add SROs in a 2019 bill called the School Safety and Resiliency Act, which was a response to the 2018 shooting at Marshall County High School that left two students dead. That recommendation became a mandate with this year’s House Bill 63.

But not all lawmakers are sold on the idea of putting police into schools.

“Kids want to be able to go to school and thrive and not be afraid of the officers who are in the building,” says Rep. Attica Scott (D-Louisville), who voted against both measures. “Our kids want love and support, and want polices, and practices, and procedures that focus on how do you teach kids about conflict resolution, how do you teach them to address their issues with one another rather than resorting to violence.”

While SROs are meant to enhance school safety and security and intervene if there is criminal activity, Barrier says they are not there to participate in day-to-day disciplining of students. He says a large part of the job is to connect with students as mentors, coaches, and friends.

“They’re so good about... building long-term, meaningful relationships with kids, and staff, and community members,” says Barrier. “They’re so much more than law enforcement officers in their schools.”

In the Fayette County Public Schools, district police Chief Martin Schafer says positive relationships between SROs and students are the best tool for keeping schools safe.

“We’ve enjoyed getting to know our students, and I think in a lot of cases they’ve enjoyed getting to know us,” says Schafer.

Fayette County SROs work closely with school counselors and mental health specialists to foster bonds with students that can extend from kindergarten through high school. That includes special training on diversity and cultural competency issues to ensure that SROs connect with children of all backgrounds and life experiences.

“It’s the mentorship that makes them feel safe,” says Dedeeh Newbern, chief of student support in Fayette County. “We know from research that one connected adult with one kid is what makes the difference in their ability to complete school. Sometimes that one adult is their SRO.”

But a 2021 report from the Lexington Herald-Leader called into question the success of those diversity efforts. The paper said Black youth comprised 86 percent of student arrests and 92 percent student criminal charges in Fayette County schools, even though the total student population in the district is only 23 percent African American.

“This is something that we’re always looking to get better at, and we always want to be conscious of these numbers,” says Schafer.

Educators also have mixed feelings about the use of SROs, according to Commissioner Glass, especially since he says the data on their effectiveness at stopping school shootings is mixed. He says the potential disparities in enforcement reinforce the need for proper selection and training of the officers.

“An effective, trained school resource officer can be a value-add to a school system,” says Glass. “But there are real concerns about increasing the policing that’s happening in schools, especially if you have an officer in there that doesn’t have the right background, temperament, training to do that job.”

Other Options to Enhance School Security

In addition to SROs, schools have been required to make campuses more secure through physical changes to buildings, policies that limit access to schools by outsiders, and training for students and staff on what to do in the event of a shooting or other emergency.

But even those efforts to harden school facilities can be a challenge for some districts. Glass says many schools were built decades ago and require expensive retrofits to limit access points and install other security protections. Some buildings also lack air conditioning, which means staff may skirt safety protocols and keep doors and windows open on especially hot days.

Glass says there are additional options that educators and policymakers should consider to promote school safety. He says the statewide safety tip line 866-393-6659 needs better promotion to make students and parents aware of how to anonymously report potential threats to a school. He also wants more funding for bullying prevention programs.

Finally, Glass says lawmakers should consider gun safety measures like so-called red flag laws to temporarily remove weapons from the home of a person in crisis. He also suggests a higher minimum age for firearms purchases, and requirements for safe gun storage to help keep weapons out of the hands of children who might harm themselves or others.

“Regrettably we have enough data on mass murders and school shootings that we have empirical evidence around policies and procedures that are effective and those that aren’t,” says Glass. “We need to be looking at that.”

Red flag and safe storage bills have been proposed in the General Assembly but have failed to make headway in the Republican-dominated legislature. Wilson says he opposed previous red flag measures over due process concerns associated with taking an individual’s guns. He also sees other gun restrictions as unnecessary.

“Right now, guns are not allowed on school campuses by law,” says Wilson. “I don’t know any other laws that would work to keep guns out of school.”

SROs Schafer and Barrier say they avoid policy debates but they do support more efforts to address bullying.

“We take a proactive stance that we’re not going to let this behavior develop,” says Schafer. “We want to provide the supports and resources for every student, but particularly ones that have had signs or experience bullying because there’s no place for that in our schools.”

Gun laws and bullying prevention are critical, according to Rep. Scott, but she says safety efforts shouldn’t stop at the schoolhouse door. She argues that students, staff, and parents must also be able to feel safe in their communities.

“We still have so much work to do that the legislature has failed to address time and time again,” says Scott. “Our kids are the ones who are suffering, our communities are suffering, and we have to be better and we have to do better.”

With the recent Uvalde, Texas, shooting still fresh in the minds of many people, state officials want to assure Kentuckians that public schools here are safe, although they also admit there are no guarantees to cover every situation. Barrier says that’s one reason why he believes it’s critical that schools have well-trained SROs available.

“What we know about school shooters is that once a school shooter has been appropriately engaged by a law enforcement officer, there’s been no further loss of life,” says Barrier. “So the sooner that I can get there to help, the better off the students are going to be.”

Sponsored by:

Season 29 Episodes

Medical Marijuana Legalization in Kentucky

S29 E44 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/30/23

Kentucky's Juvenile Justice System

S29 E43 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/23/23

Legislation Introduced in the 2023 General Assembly

S29 E42 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/09/23

2023 Legislative Session Preview

S29 E41 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 12/19/22

National Politics

S29 E40 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 12/05/22

2022 Election Preview

S29 E39 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11/07/22

Inflation and the Economy

S29 E38 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/31/22

Constitutional Amendments 1 & 2

S29 E37 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 10/24/22

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives: Part Two

S29 E36 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 10/17/22

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives: Part One

S29 E35 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/10/22

U.S. Senate Candidate Charles Booker

S29 E34 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10/03/22

Discussing Flooding's Impact on Eastern Kentucky Schools

S29 E33 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/26/22

COVID-19, Monkeypox and Influenza

S29 E32 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/12/22

Eastern Kentucky Flooding and Legislative Relief Package

S29 E31 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 08/29/22

Child Care in Kentucky

S29 E30 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 08/22/22

School Safety: Debating State Policies

S29 E29 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 08/01/22

Work, Wages and Welfare

S29 E28 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/25/22

50 Years of Title IX

S29 E26 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/18/22

The Impact of U.S. Supreme Court Decisions

S29 E24 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/11/22

Kentucky's Ban on Abortion

S29 E23 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 06/27/22

Discussing New Developments in the COVID-19 Pandemic

S29 E22 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/20/22

Reducing Opioid Addiction Rates in Kentucky

S29 E21 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 06/13/22

Mass Shootings and Gun Laws

S29 E20 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/06/22

Discussing the Rise in Gas Prices and Inflation

S29 E19 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 05/23/22

Previewing Kentucky's 2022 Primary Election

S29 E18 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 05/16/22

Third Congressional District Democratic Primary

S29 E17 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 05/09/22

Candidates in the 2022 Primary Election: Part Two

S29 E16 Length 58:33 Premiere Date 05/02/22

Candidates in the 2022 Primary Election: Part One

S29 E15 Length 58:40 Premiere Date 04/25/22

Lawmakers Review the 2022 General Assembly

S29 E14 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 04/18/22

Recap of the 2022 Legislative Session

S29 E13 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 04/11/22

Public Assistance and Jobless Benefits

S29 E12 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 03/28/22

Abortion Legislation in the 2022 General Assembly

S29 E11 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 03/21/22

State Budget, Taxes, and Other 2022 General Assembly Topics

S29 E10 Length 57:42 Premiere Date 03/14/22

Critical Race Theory and Approaches to Teaching History

S29 E9 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/28/22

2022 Legislative Session at the Midpoint

S29 E8 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/21/22

Name, Image and Likeness Compensation

S29 E7 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/14/22

Child Abuse and Neglect

S29 E6 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/07/22

Debating School Choice in Kentucky

S29 E5 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 02/01/22

Debating Provisions in the Proposed State Budget

S29 E4 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 01/24/22

Redistricting, State Budget, and Other Legislative Issues

S29 E3 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/10/22

Discussing Legislative Goals for the 2022 General Assembly

S29 E2 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/03/22

Previewing the 2022 Kentucky General Assembly

S29 E1 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 12/06/21

See All Episodes

caret down

TV Schedules

Jump to Recent Airdates


2024 Legislative Session Preview - S30 E33

Renee Shaw hosts a 2024 legislative session preview. Scheduled guests: State Representative Chad Aull (D-Lexington); State Representative Stephanie Dietz (R-Edgewood); State Senator Cassie Chambers Armstrong (D-Louisville); and State Senator Amanda Mays Bledsoe (R- Lexington). A 2023 KET production.

  • Monday December 4, 2023 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday December 4, 2023 7:00 pm CT on KET
  • Tuesday December 5, 2023 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 5, 2023 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 5, 2023 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 5, 2023 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 5, 2023 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 5, 2023 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 6, 2023 1:00 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday December 6, 2023 12:00 am CT on KET
  • Wednesday December 6, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 6, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KETKY

Kentucky Tonight - S30 E34

  • Monday December 18, 2023 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday December 18, 2023 7:00 pm CT on KET
  • Tuesday December 19, 2023 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 19, 2023 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 19, 2023 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 19, 2023 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 19, 2023 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 19, 2023 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 20, 2023 2:00 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday December 20, 2023 1:00 am CT on KET
  • Wednesday December 20, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 20, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
Jump to Upcoming Airdates


2024 Legislative Preview - S30 E32

  • Wednesday November 22, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 22, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 22, 2023 1:36 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday November 22, 2023 12:36 am CT on KET
  • Tuesday November 21, 2023 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 21, 2023 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 21, 2023 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 21, 2023 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 21, 2023 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 21, 2023 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 20, 2023 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday November 20, 2023 7:00 pm CT on KET

2023 Election - S30 E31

  • Tuesday November 7, 2023 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 7, 2023 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 7, 2023 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 7, 2023 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 6, 2023 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday November 6, 2023 7:00 pm CT on KET

Candidate Conversations: Lieutenant Governor - S30 E30

  • Wednesday November 1, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 1, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 1, 2023 1:00 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday November 1, 2023 12:00 am CT on KET


Explore KET