From NewsChannel 9: As school safety remains a concern for many across Tennessee, a new bill would expand who could be employed as a School Resour
From NewsChannel 9: As school safety remains a concern for many across Tennessee, a new bill would expand who could be employed as a School Resource Officer (SRO).
This comes as data shows the amount of SRO’s have been on a decline in some schools within the past few years.
Last month, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office announced it was fully staffed and was able to place an SRO in every county school.
That’s along with charter schools.
But recent data shows other counties across the state are seeing a decline in those officers.
Since 2017 there’s a steady incline of SROs at school, but then you see a slight decline after the 2021-2022 school year.
A spokesperson with the Tennessee Department of Education says that it is solely up to local law enforcement to choose who can be an SRO.
Now, lawmakers are looking to change the requirements for the position with the SAFE Act.
Under the School Security Act of 1981, SRO’s must be active law enforcement personnel.
Under the new bill schools would be allowed to employ retired law enforcement personnel as well as honorably discharged veterans.
Before being assigned to a school, those individuals will have to successfully complete 40 hours of basic training in school policy, must pass a test to be eligible to purchase/possess a handgun, receive written authorization to carry or possess a firearm on school grounds, undergo psychiatric evaluation, and pass an FBI criminal history check.
In May of 2023, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a school safety law and invested more than $230M to strengthen safety at public and private schools across the state.
This included $140M for one full-time, armed School Resource Officer (SRO) for every public school.
“Nothing is more important than Tennessee students and teachers returning home from school safely each day,” said Gov. Lee. “Every year since 2019, we’ve worked with the General Assembly to prioritize school safety,
In his recent State of the State Address governor Lee shared progress on the investment.
He mentioned that Crockett County, along with three other school districts, once had zero SRO’s.
But with those funds, they are now fully staffed.