Williamson Co. approves plan for SROs in every school - WSMV Channel 4

Williamson Co. approves plan for SROs in every school

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School districts in Tennessee are taking action after the shooting last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut with plans to put an armed police officer in every school.

However, paying for those officers is another matter.

The state's wealthiest county, Williamson, approved Monday to use an estimated $2.3 million in reserve funds to train and put an officer in every school for a year.

County leaders said they intend to use reserve funds to hire the personnel, but they still have to determine how to cover the long-term cost.

The costly decision will now play out in 95 counties.  Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson said it's not an easy decision in a day of tight budgets.

"It's kind of like a home, and you want this when you build your home but you can't quite afford it," Anderson said. "I would also encourage everyone to lean towards our state to make it a priority with them and see if there is some funding available, whether it's through some grants or other formulas."

While counties struggle with funding school resource officers - training them, getting them cars and equipment - there may be a separate, more controversial movement to arm teachers.

The Professional Educators of Tennessee said it has already been contacted by teachers ready for training.

Most of them are ex-military and police officers.

"They are ready. They know how to handle a weapon if there is a problem," said PET board member Bill Gemmill III.

Gemmill, a retired principal and teacher in Metro Nashville, also believes there may be a less expensive answer to the SRO question.

He said even if SROs turn out to be too expensive, why not have one officer take on two or three schools or have one officer assigned as a temporary SRO every day of the school year.

All of these ideas are rubbing up against financial reality. Even Williamson County does not have a long-term financial solution, and even arming and training teachers will have its own unique set of costs.

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