Senate bill seeks to address safe child exchanges
by Cris Ritchie
FRANKFORT – Safe child exchanges between separated couples received an increased emphasis in the wake of the Jan. 15 shooting in Hazard that left three people dead. A bill filed in the state Senate this week aims to prevent similar tragedies by giving courts another option of where these exchanges can take place.
Sen. Brandon Smith, R—Hazard, filed Senate Bill 141 on Monday, which defines “safe child drop-off locations” and gives courts the discretion to require that such a location be used in cases of separation agreements, divorces, or temporary custody orders.
“The introduction of Senate Bill 141 was the direct response to the terrible tragedy that occurred in Hazard on Jan. 15, which resulted in the loss of three innocent lives,” Smith told the Herald this week.
It was on Jan. 15 when Caitlyn Cornett, Jackie Cornett, and Taylor Cornett were gunned down in a parking lot at Hazard Community and Technical College. The alleged gunman, 21-year-old Dalton Stidham, shared custody of a 2-year-old boy with Caitlyn Cornett.
According to police, the shooting occurred as Cornett and Stidham were supposed to meet to exchange their son. The college was one of two locations mandated for the exchange during an ongoing custody case between the two.
Sen. Smith’s bill would define safe child drop-off locations as any public building operated by state or local governments where access is already limited and security measures, such as metal detectors, are in place.
“I believe these measures would give great piece of mind to many guardians and children and potentially prevent any future tragedies from occurring,” Smith said.
The bill was introduced into the Senate on Feb. 11, and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration on Wednesday.
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