Knox County Schools train new security officers

Knox County Schools train new security officers

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"We asked them to read the job description and then we asked them if they could do everything on it," said the school system's new security chief, Gus Paidousis. "We asked them to read the job description and then we asked them if they could do everything on it," said the school system's new security chief, Gus Paidousis.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Students, teachers and several dozen newly-hired security officers are headed back to school in Knox County on August 12.

The new officers are now in the middle of a five-week training course led by Knox County sheriff's deputies and Knoxville police officers. 

"Definitely anything is better than nothing, however these are children that are in shape. They're fit. They can move fast. I think [the officers] should be in shape, be able to be fast on their feet and react quickly. That makes all the difference," said parent Shelley Honeycutt.

The new officers are required to do push-ups and jumping jacks as part of their training, but there is no fitness test required to pass.

"We asked them to read the job description and then we asked them if they could do everything on it," said the school system's new security chief, Gus Paidousis. "They'll be on their feet. They'll be moving and they'll be walking around quite a bit, but there is that scenario or that situation where they might have to move very quickly. There might have to be a short burst of a run."

No gun experience is necessary. Candidates get a little more than a week of training with firearms.

"There's always the potential for a mistake, but if you look at training standards across the country, a 40-hour week or 60 hours of firearms is not unusual," Paidousis said.

The salary for the new officers is $20,500 with summers off.

"What motivates people day in and day out is being part of a team, having their opinion matter, being valued, being treated well, and at the end of the day going home and feeling they've done something positive," he said.

Parents say the added presence alone gives them and their kids peace of mind.

"I would like for my children who maybe see something on the news as they get older about something that happens here or there, I would like for them to go to school and see these officers and think oh well I'm protected, that way they can at least feel safe," said parent Joseph Fowler.

The new officers will get continued training in all aspects of their job. There will also be another recruitment class soon.

The school district wanted to hire 58 new officers, but there are only 47 in the current class.

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