Hamilton County Sheriff discusses armed officers in schools
CHATTANOOGA, TN. (WRCB) - As the country paused to remember the victims of last week's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the national conversation about gun control opened up.
The CEO of the National Rifle Association says we need more armed officers in our schools.
"The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun," the NRA CEO Wayne Lapierre says.
Local leaders have already started looking into the best ways to ensure our children are safe at school.
Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond says he's been swamped with calls and emails from parents voicing their concerns. Some are with the NRA in wanting armed officers in all schools, while others are fully against that idea.
"I'd feel a lot safer if there was armed guards or armed officers at hers. I think it would've stopped a lot of things that have happened the last couple of weeks," mom, Jessica Phillips of Red Bank says.
"I'm just not sure that having armed officers would do anything except lead to gun play, which is what we don't want," Fannie Hewlett says.
These are examples of the many opinions Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond has received over the past week.
"I think the public wants some action, and we've got to see what that would be," Sheriff Hammond says.
He's formed a committee of law enforcement, city and school officials to discuss all of the options.
"Some people say you should allow citizens who are properly trained and maybe even teachers to do it, but all those options are on the table," Sheriff Hammond says.
Sheriff Hammond says he's not discounting any ideas at this point.
"Do I think there's a time and place to use armed people in schools? Yes, I do. Do I like it? No, but it's just what we're dealing with today," Sheriff Hammond says.
"Regardless of what we do, it's obvious what we're doing now is not providing the kind of protection we want to have," Hewlett says.
Of course, every option has a price tag and armed officers is the most expensive.
Right now for Hamilton County's 76 schools, there are 25 resource officers on duty at a mix of middle and high schools.
Each additional officer would cost taxpayers $80,000 each year.
"About time it goes toward something good, right," Phillips says.
"Is that the level we need to go? It's certainly the most expensive level we can go, but we're also going to discuss the camera systems, the locking systems, those kind of things," Sheriff Hammond says.
The committee Sheriff Hammond formed will be meeting over the next few weeks.
He's researching any past school shootings to plan for the future.
He says the key need is being able to respond much faster during these emergencies.
Stay with WRCBtv.com for the latest developments.