It's Anthony Gamble's first week on the job, and he's already building relationships.  Officer Gamble is a Marion County deputy with a new assignment.  He's one of three school resource officers.  Each is stationed in one of the county's three largest towns: Jasper, South Pittsburg and Whitwell.  Although Gamble's primary post is Whitwell High, he also enjoys visiting the elementary and middle schools next door.

Marion is the latest county to include funding for school resource officers.  School officials and law enforcement agencies say it's long overdue, and much needed.  Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnett and Director of Schools Dr. Mark Griffith each credit the County Commission and School Board for seeing the project through to completion.  

At Whitwell High, Gamble is still learning everyone's name, and letting students know he's there to help them, and he's not just looking for trouble. He pledges strict confidentiality when students report issues to him.

Students who've never had a daily police presence in their school say the officer's arrival was welcomed by all.

Officer Gamble says his official duties end when the afternoon school bell rings, but he plans to be present at many Whitwell school sporting events too.  Sheriff Burnett says he expects the new SRO to head off bullying situations before they turn into anything big.  Another Marion County school, Monteagle Elementary, has an officer nearby from that city's police department.