The Tennessee House and Senate have passed a bill that would allow schools in the state to hire off-duty police officers to work school security.
The bill now goes to Governor Bill Haslam to be signed into law.
House Bill 2129, also known as ‘The School Safety Act of 2018’, would give law enforcement agencies the opportunity to allow off-duty officers to work in schools in the state.
The bill was sponsored by Representative Micah Van Huss of Jonesborough.
“This is a very important bill, a bipartisan bill, regardless of where you are on the issues, to keep our kids safe,” Van Huss said.
That bill will allow local education agencies to adopt policies to allow off-duty law enforcement officers to serve as armed school security officers.
Those officers must enter into a Memorandum of Understanding.
The second part of the bill requires any law enforcement agency that participates to submit a report to the state in three years.
“On the on the ground security situation for our schools, such as does this school need metal detectors at this entrance? Are these windows shatter proof, etc.” Van Huss explained.
Van Huss said it would be up to the law enforcement agencies if they wanted to participate. If they do, it would then be up to the Department of Education to determine how much to pay the officers and where that money would come from.
“The governor did put $30.2 million into the budget for school safety. The schools can pay for it however they want. If they want to raise private funds to do it, if they wants to use their funds, grants from the state or the federal government this allows them that process for them to do that,” he said.
“Any type of supports that we can have from the state level obviously is something that we’re going to be interested in,” said Assistant Superintendent of Kingsport City Schools, Andy True.
He said they already have school resource officers in their schools, but are always looking for ways to improve safety.
“Whenever we can explore ways to have more of a law enforcement presence to be able to build those relationships, that’s something we’re going to be interested in exploring,” True said.
If signed into law, Van Huss said this would take effect immediately.
To read more about the bill, click here.