High school officials asking for better protection after recent attacks on refs

High school officials asking for better protection after recent attacks on refs
High School officials are speaking up after recent physical attacks

OWENSBORO, KY (WFIE) - Officiating a high school softball game isn’t always as easy as balls and strikes.

Earlier this month, an AAU basketball coach is accused of attacking referee Kenny Culp in Paducah, beating him bloody.

Brett Booker has officiated with Culp. He says verbal abuse is pretty common for them.

“There’s a big difference in a fan or a coach saying that’s a terrible call and you’re terrible," Booker said.

But physical violence towards officials seems to be increasing.

“It’s the first time it’s happened in our own backyard," Booker said.

Booker officiates high school softball, volleyball and basketball.

He says, it’s a way for him to get some extra money for his family when he’s not teaching. But after hearing about Culp’s attack, Booker decided to reach out to state legislators.

“I wrote them an email expressing the desire of a first offense of official harassment or abuse is a felony," Booker said.

Currently in Kentucky, the first offense is a misdemeanor and a second offense is a low-level felony. But Booker hopes he and other officials will soon be doing their jobs, with stronger protections under the law.

“We’re out here unprotected," he said. "There has to be something to stem this growing trend of violence on the ball field or the basketball arenas.”

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