March 5, 2013
Hazard Community and Technical College, a public community college situated along a busy highway, should have been a safe place for Caitlyn Cornett to meet with Dalton Stidham and exchange their 2-year-old son. But HCTC is a school. There are no safety measures that would have detected the pistol authorities alleged Stidham carried with him that evening, and ultimately used to murder Caitlyn Cornett, along with her uncle and her 12-year-old cousin.
It is said about our system of government that it is a reactionary one. Our lawmakers don’t usually act until something happens. But in this instance, who could have foreseen the tragedy that befell the Cornett family on Jan. 15, 2013?
There has been an appropriate response in the Kentucky legislature, however, in the form of a piece of legislation that should be approved immediately.
Sen. Brandon Smith, R—Hazard, filed Senate Bill 141 as a response to that deadly shooting in January. It allows courts overseeing custody cases – like the one Dalton Stidham and Caitlin Cornett were involved in prior to the shooting – the authority to designate what are being defined as “safe child drop-off areas.” These are areas that have security measures in place, like metal detectors, where separated or divorced couples who share custody can meet to exchange their child.
Ultimately, we don’t know if this bill would have saved the lives of Caitlyn, Jackie, and Taylor Cornett had these safe child drop-off areas been an option for the courts prior to the shooting. But we know that giving judges this option now can save lives in future cases.
It was unthinkable that something like these murders could have taken place in our community, but they did. And while this is something our community will have to live with, it shouldn’t be a burden other families and communities have to bear.
Sen. Smith’s bill is currently making its way through the legislature. It was approved in the state Senate unanimously with a 37-0 vote. We urge our state’s representatives to give this bill similar consideration, and then for Governor Beshear to sign it immediately.
— The Hazard Herald