To Consider Issue
BY LAUREN HENRY
That's what Director of Greeneville City Schools Dr. Linda Stroud says she has heard since announcing the presence of certified police officers at each of the Greeneville City Schools beginning Monday, as students return from Christmas break.
Stroud said talks began with the Town of Greeneville and the Greeneville Police Department the day after the deadly Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., to decide on the best plan of action for school safety.
She said those discussions culminated in the decision to place an officer full-time at each of the six schools in Greeneville.
The measure is temporary until the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meet Jan. 15, said Chief of Police Terry Cannon.
But Chief Cannon said there is currently money in the police budget for overtime, which will be used toward patrolling the schools until the board meeting.
An officer currently is assigned to the high school full-time, while one other officer has rotated patrol duties among Greeneville Middle School and the four elementary schools.
Cannon said the rotating officer will be placed full-time at GMS, while four other officers will patrol each of the four elementary schools: Highland Elementary, Tusculum View Elementary, EastView Elementary and Hal Henard Elementary.
The officers will patrol inside and outside the schools and ensure all doors are closed and secure as well as simply being a law enforcement presence.
"This will be a lot of resources," Cannon said.
The chief went on to say it is important to ensure the safety and security of the city's schools.
Cannon is currently working with City Administrater Todd Smith and Dr. Stroud to put together options for the rest of the school year.
They are working on cost estimates for adding the four officers to each of the elementary schools, as well as brainstorming other options to increase security.
Cannon mentioned that increasing police presence at local schools has been a priority since the tragedy in Connecticut.
For example, he said, he encourages officers to sit in school parking lots while writing their reports, which they would otherwise have done in the Police Department office.
However, the extra presence of a full-time officer at GMS and the four elementary schools is only ensured until the Board meets on Jan. 15.
MAYOR: CITY IS MOTIVATED
Mayor W.T. Daniels said in a telephone interview with The Greeneville Sun on Thursday afternoon that the Town is motivated to "be more vigilant. We just want people to know that we are not sitting on the sidelines," Daniels said.
The mayor is optimistic that the state and/or federal governments may allocate money or options for school safety in the future. However, he is not waiting for such legislation.
Daniels said members of the community have called him and have been personally concerned following the Newtown tragedy.
The Town is working with the schools to look at all areas of safety, he said.
Dr. Stroud said locks, safety protocols, and other measures are being evaluated at the schools.
"This is not a new thing," she said, regarding school safety.
According to Stroud, safety is the number-one priority for any school system.
"Sure, we are there to educate our children, but our number-one priority is their safety," she said.
"These are our children, and it is our collective responsibility to keep them safe."
Stroud said she heard from parents immediately following the Newtown tragedy, adding that since the announcement of the increased police presence, "the response has been nothing but positive."