Beshear signs bills dealing with public safety

Published 11:20 am Friday, April 7, 2023

BY TOM LATEK

Kentucky Today

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Tuesday he has signed nine pieces of legislation passed by the 2023 General Assembly into law that increase public safety by supporting law enforcement and better protecting victims of violent crimes and children while at school.

House Bill 401, sponsored by Rep. David Hale, R-Wellington, provides the Kentucky State Police the organizational structure to align the resources and personnel needed to store, manage and retain the audio and video footage captured by their new body camera recording system.

Sponsored by Rep. Kevin Bratcher, R-Louisville, House Bill 207 allows law enforcement agencies the ability to create their own wellness programs to support the mental health and wellbeing of both sworn and civilian personnel.  All sessions and information discussed within wellness programs remain confidential under counselor-client privilege.

House Bill 115, sponsored by Rep. Bill Wesley, R-Ravenna, makes an assault against a police dog or an electronic storage device detection K-9 a Class D felony.  Electronic detection dogs assist with locating hidden electronic storage devices that may contain harmful materials, such as child sexual abuse material or evidence of other criminal activity.  KSP has two electronic storage device detection dogs out of only 85 in the U.S.

Sponsored by Rep. John Blanton of Salyersville, House Bill 373 makes necessary changes to peace officer professional standards or POPS, to enhance public safety.  It expands on legislation from last year that made any felony or misdemeanor sex crime that has been expunged a disqualifying factor for certification as a police officer or court security officer.

House Bill 64, sponsored by Rep. Wade Williams, R-Earlington, allows law enforcement officers to be out of employment for a full year before having to redo their POPS certification and attend the academy. The current limit is 100 days.

Senate Bill 79, sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, strengthens protections for survivors of domestic violence.  It creates the Safe at Home Program to allow victims of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, rape and human trafficking to conceal their addresses from public documents.

Sponsored by Sen. Denise Harper Angel, D-Louisville, Senate Bill 282 benefits victims of violent crime in Kentucky by increasing crime victim compensation awards for lost wages, loss of financial support, medical and mental health counseling expenses and funeral/burial expenses.  It also benefits victims of hit-and-run accidents, who now will be eligible for awards.

Sponsored by Sen. David Yates of Louisville, Senate Bill 268 allows restitution in the form of child support to be ordered for a minor child if a defendant is convicted of driving under the influence that results in the death or permanent disability of the child’s parent or guardian.

House Bill 331, sponsored by Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, D-Lexington, requires all middle and high schools in Kentucky to have at least one automated external defibrillator and at least three staff members and all athletic coaches to be trained on its use.  The bill also ensures all coaches maintain CPR certification.

“We are building that better Kentucky we all want when we work to protect our law enforcement officers, crime victims and our children in school,” Beshear said.  “I am proud to sign bills that will help make our communities safer.”