School safety drills to protect Rutherford County Schools’ 40,000-plus students are one of the training exercises 57 School Resource Officers are practicing before school begins, said Sheriff Robert Arnold.
Several SROs trained with the National Association of School Resource Officers. New SROs completed a week-long series with NASRO instructors. Returning SROs attended training in classroom and practical safety exercises. All SROs are experienced law enforcement officers.
Twelve new SRO positions were funded this academic year with two SROs at the new Stewarts Creek High School and the remaining SROs to staff every elementary school. All new SROs should complete training and report to the schools by Thanksgiving. Existing SROs will cover the schools until then.
“Our primary job is to make sure we don’t have a Sandy Hook in Rutherford County Schools,” Sheriff Arnold said.
Rutherford County was the first county in Tennessee to implement the SRO program. The program celebrates its 20th year this year. SROs earned several national awards.
SRO Capt. Barry Hendrixson said SROs follow the national theme of SROs being teacher, counsel and cop plus role model.
“Kids are looking for role models,” Capt. Hendrixson said. “Sometimes, their only role model is an SRO.”
Besides providing a safe environment, SROs help coach sports and support students in extra-curricular activities such as drama and music.
New SROs and their assigned schools are:
Ben Baldwin: John Coleman Elementary.
Scott Appleton: La Vergne Lake Elementary.
Matt Powell: Cedar Grove.
Gregg Speck: La Vergne Primary.
Scott Baker: Smyrna Primary.
Joseph Rigsby: Smyrna Elementary.
James Davis: Rockvale Middle.
Kyle Grisham: Stewartsboro.
Laura Williams: Kittrell Elementary.
Curtis Brinkley: Oakland High School.
Matt Clagg: Buchanan Elementary.
Casey McClure: Stewarts Creek High School.
Jeff Verbruggen: Walter Hill.
Carl Watkins: Blackman Elementary.