Knox sheriff says school security officers make more sense

Knox sheriff says school security officers make more sense than deputies

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"I think it's important to them when they drop their kids off that they're safe, and I think the dollars will come," Sheriff Jones said. "I think it's important to them when they drop their kids off that they're safe, and I think the dollars will come," Sheriff Jones said.
Hosted by Superintendent Jim McIntyre, the 90-minute session outlined both current security strategies and future ones. Hosted by Superintendent Jim McIntyre, the 90-minute session outlined both current security strategies and future ones.

By GENE PATTERSON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - About 100 teachers, parents and students attended a community forum Tuesday on school safety.

Hosted by Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre, the 90-minute session outlined both current security strategies and future ones.

One strategy that won't be employed is Sheriff Jimmy "JJ" Jones call for 20 additional deputies. That is not to say more officers won't be in the schools, they just won't be deputies.

Instead, the sheriff says it makes more economic sense to support Dr. McIntyre's call for 58 additional security officers at a cost of $1.9 million in next year's budget. A similar number of deputies, the sheriff said, would run $5 million to $6 million.

"This is on the forefront of people's thoughts, and they want to know that when I drop my kids off at school that they're in a safe environment. I think it's important to them when they drop their kids off that they're safe, and I think the dollars will come," Sheriff Jones said.

The additional officers are the centerpiece of Dr. McIntyre's security proposal. He's also calling for better camera systems and tighter security at school entrances.

Even with these enhancements, not everyone was satisfied, though most of the adults agreed armed officers in all schools seemed to make sense. The problem was timing.

"It seems its all focused on next year. Well I'm concerned about tomorrow and the next day and the rest of this year," said a parent at the meeting.

The superintendent, Sheriff Jones and Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch took questions for more than an hour. In the audience, a group of students who are part of the Mayor's Youth Action Council said they feel mostly safe in their schools.

"I think we're getting there. I liked the talk, and we are getting better. It's going to take a while," said 11th grader Becca Denton.

"I think they need to look more at specific schools. Some have less security than others but need improvement in entering and exiting the building," said 11th grader Maggie Sumner.

While much of the conversation centered around protecting children from outside influences with evil intent, a sheriff's official put a lot of the concerns in perspective.

Our schools are safe, she said. More children are injured or die from car accidents than from gunmen in our schools.

That may be true, but parents needed assurance Tuesday night that there was a sense of urgency regarding protecting our kids at school.

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