Teachers group wants armed officers at every elementary school

Teachers group, parents want armed officers at every elementary school

Posted:
"Every elementary school in Knox County needs a school resource officer. We need to make sure that all the schools are secure and safe," Sherry Morgan, president of the Knox County Education Association. "Every elementary school in Knox County needs a school resource officer. We need to make sure that all the schools are secure and safe," Sherry Morgan, president of the Knox County Education Association.
Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre said the district is doing everything to ensure students are safe. Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre said the district is doing everything to ensure students are safe.
"I hate that we've come to the place where we need that, but for the safety of faculty and students, I really believe it's a top priority," said Rick Kuhlman. "I hate that we've come to the place where we need that, but for the safety of faculty and students, I really believe it's a top priority," said Rick Kuhlman.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - With classes resuming after the holidays, local school leaders are talking about the next step in protecting kids in the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

The Tennessee Education Association, which represents more than 46,000 teachers across the state, recently recommended that every school have a school resource officer.

Local members completely agree with the recommendation for more SROs, saying that schools should be one of the safest places for children to go.

In Tennessee, most middle and high schools have armed school resource officers, but a lot of elementary schools do not.

The Knox County Education Association wants that to change.

"I think that we need to look at our elementary schools. Every elementary school in Knox County needs a school resource officer. We need to make sure that all the schools are secure and safe," Sherry Morgan, president of the Knox County Education Association. "We work with our students to let them know that school is a safe learning environment for them."

This year, there are 89 officers posted at schools in Knox County, provided by the school system, Knoxville police and the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

Every middle and high school has a designated SRO, but multiple elementary schools are assigned just one officer that shuttles between them.

Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre says the TEA's request for an officer at each elementary school is possible.

"The deployment that we currently have is what we believe is prudent and necessary and to make sure that we have a presence in our schools and we're doing everything we can to keep our kids safe. That's on ongoing conversation that we'll continue to have," said Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre.

Knox County Schools just completed some other security updates.

"To put locking hardware on all our classroom doors that lock from the inside in case of a crisis situation," Dr. McIntyre said.

Parents of children in Knox County Schools say they would feel much better knowing an armed officer was keeping them free from harm.

"I think it's a great idea. You want your kids to be protected," said parent Kristy Holzerman.

"I hate that we've come to the place where we need that, but for the safety of faculty and students, I really believe it's a top priority," said Rick Kuhlman.

Knox County also has video surveillance systems at all schools, conducts random searches and has a protocol system in place if any threats arise.    

The TEA also recommended that all teachers receive crisis management training that would help them spot any potential high-risk behaviors among students.

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