Photo courtesy Rutherford County Schools
Story by Shanna Love / Contributing Writer
The Rutherford County Board of Education held a special meeting on the topic of school safety Monday night at Blackman High School.
Local officials, parents, police officers and educators gathered in the auditorium of the school to discuss future safety plans for the schools in the district.
During the meeting, several officials voiced their concerns about what they feel can be done to increase safety in the schools. Parents voiced their concerns on several issues such as bus safety, teachers’ training for active shooters, bullying, the security camera system and medical treatment protocols.
County Commissioner Pettus Read said his son, who is a Middle Tennessee State University alumnus, came up with an idea to install signs in front of schools that would state the school is being protected by an armed School Resource Officer. Read then offered to pay for the first 50 signs.
“Money is not the importance of this,” Read said. “It’s the lives of our children.”
Capt. Brad Harrison of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office oversees the county’s 56 school resource officers. The captain spoke about how important it is for parents to monitor their children’s social media, emails, phones and rooms.
“We always like to hear opinions, especially from parents,” Harrison said. “Somebody may come up with a brand new idea we have not thought of, and (it) could be very beneficial for us.”
Rutherford County Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh spoke highly about the SRO’s of Rutherford County, saying they were the first to have an SRO program in Tennessee. The SRO program in Rutherford County currently has at least one SRO in each school and two in the high schools.
The SRO program in Rutherford County is so prestigious that the U.S. Department of Defense asked the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office for training for its nationwide “school security team.”
“The meeting was very beneficial to the public and us police officials because we were able to hear (community member’s) concerns about school safety, and there are some suggestions we will take into consideration,” Fitzhugh said.
Danielle Paredes, 17, a junior at Blackman High School, explained how her school could increase security measures.
“I believe they should do more locker checks because it’s so easy for students to hide things in there they aren’t supposed to have,” Paredes said. “I also feel like students should step in and be more active in their social media. If you see someone online posting suspicious things that could cause harm to someone, alert your parents so that they can alert police.”
Following the public meeting, members of the board and local law enforcement had a closed executive session to further discuss other safety plans and concerns.
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