Additional officers added to Catoosa County elementary schools
Catoosa County Schools will add five new school resource officers to their campuses.
Catoosa County Schools will add five new school resource officers to their campuses. Five new positions have been created for the ten elementary schools. Each officer will split time between two campuses.
It's been a discussion since 2015 to add more officers to the schools. But since the recent events in Florida, county officials wanted to expedite the process.
These additional officers will be on campus beginning this fall.
“We have to prepare for what we don't want to prepare for,” Catoosa County School Board Member Jack Sims said.
Sims is the former principal of Lakeview High School. Almost 30 years ago, his school was the first in the county to have a school resource officer.
“My students came to me and said we would like to fund a resource officer," Sims explained. "So I went to the Board of Education to get permission, they approved. The first school resource officer came from the city of Fort Oglethorpe.”
He now serves as a Catoosa County School Board Member. He was one of five to vote unanimously to add five armed officers to the elementary schools.
“These five will rotate between our elementary schools," Sims added. "No one will know exactly when they will be at what school.”
It will cost the school district $200,000. The county commission will match that with another $200,000.
The new positions are part of the school district's expanding safety plan.
“We decided we would take that next step and add the resource officers because they have the crisis training and the ongoing training that is necessary to react in a crisis situation,” Catoosa County School’s Superintendent Denia Reese said.
Superintendent Reese said Catoosa County Schools are already safe, this decision will add an extra layer of security.
“There is a lot of conversation about arming teachers," Superintendent Reese explained. "A lot of quick solutions to a very complex problem. One thing the sheriff and I have always been in agreement is if anyone is going to have a gun in our schools it is going to be a trained law enforcement officer.”
The county's middle and high schools are already covered with school resource officers.
County officials hope to grow the program in the future so that the elementary schools do not have to share officers.