LEBANON, TN (WSMV) - Middle Tennessee is weeks away from a new school year, with $30 million more state dollars dedicated to safety.

Gov. Bill Lee signed the school safety bill at the beginning of his term, whose goal was to get a student resource officer inside every school in Tennessee.

Wilson County was ahead of the game. Wilson County Schools was one of the first districts in the state to place an SRO inside every single school. It has 44 SROs total with two in each high school.

"It's all in the name of protecting staff and students," Bart Barker, the district's public information officer, explained. "2012, Sandy Hook. That changed the game for everyone."

By February 2013, two months after that shooting rocked the nation, Wilson County's elementary schools had armed guards too.

"Just because you're in elementary school does not mean that you should let your guard down," Wilson County Sheriff Public Information Officer Lt. Scott Moore said. "You need to always have your guard up and prepare for the worst."

"Threats, bullying, those sorts of things at the elementary school level," Barker said. “It’s extremely important to make sure those threats get dealt with in a very, very serious manner."

Moore said the SRO program in Wilson County was created in 1995. In the years since, there's been a growing emphasis on training.

"Every time there's a school shooting, we learn from those, and you critique them and you try to see what you can fit in your plan what would best fit an armed intruder situation," Moore said.

"The emphasis on training now, compared to what it was 10, 15, 20 years ago, has changed dramatically because of the instances that have occurred across the country.”

Their newest policy is to conduct school specific training with the SROs once a month.

"We're looking for new trends that may arise throughout the school year. If a new trend arises, then we try to train on that,” said Moore.

Each SRO must go through 40 hours of basic training before they're place in a school. An active shooter training is scheduled for the first week of August.

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Reporter

Rebecca Cardenas is a Murrow-award winning journalist who joined News4 as a reporter in September 2017. She currently covers the court systems in Middle Tennessee.

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