Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

July 31, 2013

BOE, Sheriff agree to SRO terms

The Cumberland County Board of Education approved a memorandum of understanding last week with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department to begin a school resource officer program in all county schools.

The board agreed to fund three officers for the first year, with Sheriff Butch Burgess providing a fourth officer from his budget.

"We know we are paying three officers this year," Director of Schools Donald Andrews explained.

Under the agreement, the sheriff's department will provide one regularly employed deputy to cover two elementary schools each, with one assigned to Brown and South Cumberland elementary schools, one assigned to Pine View and Crab Orchard elementary schools, one assigned to North Cumberland and Pleasant Hill elementary schools and one assigned to Stone and Homestead elementary schools.

The SRO will act as an instructor of special, short-term programs, when invited by the principal to do so, or serve as a guest speaker, but the SRO will not have full-time teaching responsibilities.

The SRO is to make himself or herself available to conference with students, parents and faculty members, but will not have access to confidential student records unless the law otherwise allows. He or she will also assist the principal of each school with developing plans and strategies to minimize and prevent dangerous situations. Detailed records are to be kept and the SRO will submit a weekly update of his activities to the sheriff.

All deputies serving as SROs must volunteer for the position, be a certified law enforcement officer with two year's experience with the sheriff's department and complete 40 hours of specialized training with 16 additional hours of training per year specific to their SRO duties.

School safety coordinator Tim Claflin said, "The big thing I wanted in there was the SRO training and the 16 hours per year thereafter. It's important that the SROs are SROs and know their job responsibilities and duties while in our schools."

School discipline is not among those duties, Andrews noted.

"They are not there as disciplinarians," Andrews said. "They are there for safety and security."

The Crossville Police Department provides SROs for each of the high schools and is working to secure grant funding to place an SRO at Martin Elementary.

The safety committee recommended the approval of the memorandum of understanding, and the board unanimously approved the agreement.

Dan Schlafer, 9th District representative, thanked Gordon Davis, 5th District representative, for his years of work to implement a county-wide SRO program.

"You've been after this since 2002," Schlafer said to Davis. "You spearheaded that. You were a big part of bringing several people together to make this happen. You were relentless and professional. Eleven years later, here we are. I'm really, really happy."

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