Threat assessment team in Bradley County make room for more SRO's at schools
A threat assessment team in Bradley County says they are prepared to protect their students this school year.
The group includes representatives from law enforcement, school administrators, mental health professionals, and the district attorney's office.
This team is charged with addressing concerns inside the school system as they are reported. The goal of the team is to be proactive when it comes to student safety. They will give their expertise and direction on how to handle each situation efficiently.
Over the summer, they implemented a plan that will provide two full-time SRO's in both of the Bradley County High Schools.
“They can have each other's back,” said Bradley County Sheriff Steve Lawson. “They can protect the students. They can protect school personnel, administrators and down the line. Then we will have a gate guard which would put in a third person.”
Lawson says the gate guard would be a retired or reserve officer who keeps up with SRO training.
Right now, one SRO is in every school across the county. Lawson does not think that elementary and middle schools need two SRO's. However, patrol officers are out every day, and they can stop in to offer support if needed.
He says he was able to make the additions without taxpayers covering the cost.
“We were able to find the money,” said Lawson. “Now I'm not saying that I'm not going to go back to them someday to say we've given this up a little bit.”
Sergeant Kevin White leads the threat assessment team and meets with the group of volunteers every other month.
Their job is to keep an eye on every student to see who could potentially be a problem for the school system and jeopardize someone's safety.
Lawson says they have to listen for alarming statements.
“We start paying attention to those people, and we start addressing those people on the front end,” said Lawson. “Maybe, we can shut it down immediately, and learn what's going on in their life.”
This team is expected to meet again in October, and they will continue to search for new ways to keep everyone safe.