Kentucky state lawmakers form school safety task force

PADUCAH — A state senator in Paducah is among 10 Kentucky lawmakers working together to improve school safety.

Sen. Danny Carroll — who represents Ballard, Carlisle, Marshall and McCracken counties — was recently appointed to the School Safety Working Group by Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne.

Carroll, a 24-year veteran of the Paducah Police Department, joins four other state senators and five state representatives on the task force. They will travel to communities throughout Kentucky to get input from school officials, law enforcement officers, mental health professionals and families on how to protect students.

Sen. Danny Carroll

The lawmakers will use that input to help create bills for the next legislative session, which will begin in January.

“I plan to have a piece of legislation directly related to the social-emotional wellness part of this,” Carroll said.

Carroll, who graduated from Marshall County High School, recalled when he first heard about the shooting in January that killed two 15-year-old students.

“Shock, disbelief, and I remember, that day we were in a committee meeting in Frankfort when I received a text of the incident and was able to make a phone call immediately to a family member in Marshall County who’s in Emergency Services and verified there had in fact been a shooting incident,” Carroll said. “Some of the details were very sketchy at the time, so it took a little while to get the reality and the magnitude of what had happened.”

Carroll said he then went to the high school to meet with the governor and one of the victims’ family members.

“Just utter devastation,” said Carroll. “I’ve spent several years at that school and grew up in Marshall County. I still have family members there. I have family members in that high school, so like everyone says, you never imagine it happening.”

Since then, there have been school shootings throughout the country, including one at a high school in Parkland, Florida that killed 17, and another at Santa Fe High School in Texas that killed 10.

“Feeling of helplessness and wondering: What has our society become?” said Carroll. “I’m one of those that believe people are the problem, and I think we need to look within ourselves to find the solution to this.”

Carroll added that he does not support arming teachers. Rather, he feels having retired law enforcement officers serve as school resource officers is the best option. Carroll cites McCracken County Public Schools as a good example. The district has eight school resource officers, which is more per capita than any other school district in Kentucky.

Another local state lawmaker is on the task force with Carroll —Rep. Will Coursey of Benton.