UPDATE: Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond addressed school board members about school safety on Thursday night.

Sheriff Hammond, community members, and students exchanged ideas on ways to keep students safe in schools.

“From other schools that we analyzed that a shooter who is determined to kill people will kill somebody about every three seconds. That's a lot of people that you can kill if you don't have somebody firing back,” said Sheriff Jim Hammond.

Sheriff Hammond say he's not ready to take the option of teachers carrying a gun on school campuses off the table.

He says he has a plan on how to make sure they are prepared. 

“Probably 40 hours of training in the summer when school is out and then every year they have to go through a refresher course just like our reserve officers do,” Sheriff Hammond said. “They have to volunteer to do it and I think that could be the first line of defense.”

A group of students called Chattanooga Students Leading Change also addressed the board with their concerns regarding a house bill that would arm some Tennessee teachers.

“We don't believe that House Bill 228 should be approved because we don't believe that teachers should be armed,” said Chrischana Smith, a student at Normal Park Magnet.

Chrischana Smith is an 8th grader at Normal Park Magnet School. She believes this type of conversation should include students.

“We asked them about active shooting drills because we think it's important. There are tons of fire drills but they don't really stress things that are more serious,” said Smith.

Sheriff Hammond plans on bringing in an expert from Washington the second week of April to talk about school safety.


PREVIOUS STORY: Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond discussed ways to keep our schools safe during Thursday's board meeting.

During the meeting, Sheriff Hammond said there is a number of options to address school safety concerns and says he has not ruled out arming teachers.

The Sheriff also brought up the idea of putting school resource officers in every school, saying it would cost millions of dollars to do so.

Sheriff's office spokesman Matt Lea released the following statement regarding Sheriff Hammond's address:

Earlier tonight, Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond addressed the topic of school safety with the Hamilton County School Board.

During his comments, Sheriff Hammond offered suggestions to help improve school security and safety measures that could be implemented in our public schools to help protect our students from acts of violence.

“After the most recent tragic and horrific events that occurred in Florida at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018, our Nation, especially our law enforcement and educational systems, have once again been forced to re-evaluate the safety of our students and how we address violence in our public schools,” stated Sheriff Jim Hammond. “There are many ideas that have been offered from every side of the political system. Nevertheless, I believe the main objective is clear – we must protect our children and harden our schools against violence.”

Sheriff Hammond stated that he believes first and foremost, every public school in Hamilton County should have a fully trained, P.O.S.T certified School Resource Officer (SRO) assigned to each campus. Currently, the HCSO has (31) SRO’s in (29) local schools. In order to hire, train, and station enough additional SRO’s to cover the remaining schools in the Hamilton County System, would require an estimated (additional) cost of $4 million dollars.

“There are some critical decisions that are going to have to be made that could include additional resources and funding by local officials,” stated Sheriff Hammond. “These decisions may include hardening our local schools, retro-fitting existing schools with upgraded security and surveillance measures, and considering every option on the table. Other possibilities to consider include hiring more SRO’s, training students and teachers in safety protocols, hiring private security or military veterans, or the possibility of arming qualified teachers.” It was later discussed that whatever decisions are made, it could take weeks and even months to implement the required changes.

In conclusion, the sheriff noted the problems we are facing as a Nation pertaining to school violence do not stem from a “Gun Problem” as so many people are now trying to conclude... What is causing violence in our schools is a “People Problem.” “In order to deal with the problem of school violence that is affecting our nation, we must look at the source… whether that be mental illness, foreign or domestic terrorism, a lack of parenting, or a lack of spiritual and/or moral guidance.”

“As your sheriff, I am here tonight to say it is imperative that we work together, as long as it takes, to find the best way forward in order to protect our community’s greatest assets, our children.“

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