Decrease in Guns at Tenn. Schools Attributed to SROs, Zero Tolerance
One Tennessee County says that students have developed relationships with school resource officers, making them feel comfortable with discussing weapons on campus.
Tennessee schools have seen a drastic drop in guns in schools thanks in part to zero tolerance policies implemented across the state and the presence of school resource officers (SROs) on school grounds.
Rutherford County joins those ranks, having only confiscated two guns from high schoolers during the 2016-2017 school year, according to WKRN.
Middle Tennessee School districts have also seen a drop. During the 1996-1997 school year, 16 guns were found on its campuses. Last year, that number dropped to six.
Rutherford County Schools Coordinator for Safe Schools, Joshua Kubly, partly credited the significant decrease to the zero tolerance policies.
Rutherford school entrances are adorned with signs stating that dangerous weapons are prohibited.
Kubly also attributes the decline to the presence of SROs and the relationships they have developed with their students.
Rutherford County was the first county in the state to have SROs. The department started with five officers in 1993 and rose to over 50 following the Sandy Hook school shooting.
Kubly says students feel comfortable talking with the school resource officers if they hear that someone may have a gun on campus or is talking about bringing one.
“The officers try to break down the barriers between the stereotypical law enforcement officer that kids either see or have been told about their parents and let them know they are not out to arrest everybody they are out to help people more than arrest,” says Rutherford County Captain Barry Hendrixson. “An SRO feels if he arrests one of their kids they’ve failed in doing their jobs.”
The county relies heavily on students to follow the “see something, say something” mantra as the officers do not conduct random searches for weapons; they must have reasonable suspicion.
School Safety Day Across the State
Throughout the day on Thursday, WKRN in Tennessee aired ten educational segments related to school safety measures being implemented in different schools throughout the state.
The segments, which included one about Rutherford County schools, gave viewers information from a school resource officer’s standpoint in addition to other school officials who handle student safety.
Some of the segments included:
- Law enforcement meet with Tenn. schools to discuss active shooter situations
- How are schools across Middle Tennessee combating cyber-bullying?
- Wilson County Schools safety plan unlike any other in Tennessee
- Social, emotional safety critical to students’ success
- Williamson County Schools mandate distracted driving class for students
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