Grundy Co. beefs up school security - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Grundy Co. beefs up school security

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GRUNDY COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - More police presence in schools has been a hot topic following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Hamilton County only has officers in about a third of its schools. This week, the sheriff's office started doing risk assessments at each one. Most districts in our area are considering beefing up security.

Grundy County has recently added five school resource officers, meaning all of their schools now have a full-time police presence. We found out that unlike some other districts struggling to come up with funding, they're using officers already on the force.

"The children feel a lot safer. They're more at ease knowing that somebody's there, because every one of them watch TV and they know what happens in schools," Grundy County Safe Schools Manager Chris Grooms said.

Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, you can now find a school resource officer at all of Grundy County's seven schools. It's one of the smaller districts in the area, but that also means pulling from a smaller police force.

"We picked and pulled from different areas within corrections and put those people out here in the schools," Grundy County Sheriff's Office Lt. Rusty Parker said.

With school security high on the priority list, the sheriff's office is moving deputies off the streets and into the classrooms.

"At no cost to any taxpayers so the school board didn't have to come up with any money," Grundy County School Board Chairman Bob Foster said.

Sheriff's deputies say it is putting a strain on the remaining road cops, but say the SRO's are leaving the schools to go on some calls if others are tied up, then they return as soon as possible. They say the pros outweigh the cons.

"It is very important, not only as a safety issue to help assist in that, but also as role models," Lt. Parker said.

So far, the sheriff's office and schools say they've only gotten positive feedback. John Hargis is a teacher and parent. He says he's glad with the decision to add SRO's.

"I've got a pre-K daughter here and I'm tickled to death to know that there's extra security being done," Hargis said.

School officials say they're being more diligent about enforcing existing policies on checking students out and prohibiting parents from walking back to classrooms. They're also taking bids for surveillance cameras.

"We'll have cameras at each door and have the main door be locked and parents will have to be buzzed in," Foster said.

Bradley County also now has an officer at each school by recently adding one. Sequatchie county also added one. The risk assessment being done in Hamilton County will determine recommendations for each school before returning next fall.

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