KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — While the nation’s latest mass shooting happened more than a thousand miles away, its impact is being felt in East Tennessee and is raising questions about school safety.

According to Anderson County School Resource Officer Kevin Thacker, local students are as safe as they can possibly be.

“We’ve got them,” Thacker said. “We watch them, we make sure they’re as safe as they can be in the school.”

But how are students being kept safe?

“Main thing is monitoring camera systems and then also making sure all of our doors and all of our gates in the school building are closed and secured,” Thacker explained. “No one is entering into the building without permission to be there.”

In Knox County, similar security measures are in place.

“Our officers are constantly doing access control measures, visitor management systems and deploying those,” said Jason Periard, Knox County Schools’ Chief of Security. “We’re constantly upgrading the physical security footprint of the schools. It’s a constant improvement process.”

Knox County schools also utilize law enforcement personnel from several agencies in order to enhance every school’s security measures.

“Between Knox County Schools, KPD [Knoxville Police Department] officers and then you have county officers, between the three organizations we make sure that there’s a presence at every school,” Periard said.

At the end of the day, each school representative gave the same message to students and their loved ones.


“We are doing everything we can every single day to make the schools as safe as possible.

— Jason Periard, Knox County Schools


“We’re going to be there for them and we’re going to keep them safe.”

— Russell Barker, Anderson County Sheriff

“They want to make sure that not only we get to go home at the end of the day safe, but that every one of our students and staff members.”

— Kevnin Thacker, School Resource Officer

When it comes to future security measures, both Knox County Schools and the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office said they are in talks about additional safety protocols and which current ones can be improved upon.