Rutherford Co. Sheriff Proposes Adding School Resource Officers
RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. – The Rutherford County Sheriff has proposed adding 11 School Resource Officers in light of the recent mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
Sheriff Robert Arnold announced Tuesday that he will be presenting a funding proposal to the County Commission to add the officers to provide every elementary school with its own officer.
A majority of Sgt. Bill West's twenty-eight year career has been spent protecting children
"We realize at this young age there's still a lot of work to be done on prevention, education and working with families," Sgt. West said about what his job entails.
The Sheriff's Office currently employs 44 SROs, who work at 45 Rutherford County Schools. Sgt. West is one of the few sworn officers in the district assigned to an elementary school. Parent Chris Kupchik said knowing Sgt. West is at Brown's Chapel Elementary School helps him sleep better at night.
"Because the SRO's aren't just here during the day to watch over the kids," he said. "Officer West started up an archery club for fourth and fifth grade students."
"A school resource officer is a teacher, a counselor, a cop, and then a mentor," Sheriff Arnold told reporters during Tuesday's press conference.
If passed, Arnold's plan would mean a full time officer would be assigned to each school in the district. The proposal will cost the county $1.2 million.
"God forbid something happen on our watch. It is our job to protect the schools and to protect our children," Sheriff Arnold added.
When asked if the Sheriff would support arming other school officials, as proposed by Rutherford County State Representative Joe Carr, Arnold said he thinks that's a decision that should be made locally. However, if passed, Arnold wants it to be a voluntary program with his department conducting the training.
Thursday, the Sheriff will meet with the County Commission's budget and finance committee at 5:30 p.m. They're asking the public to support them by contacting their representatives.
This proposal does not apply to Murfreesboro City Schools.
The Rutherford County SRO program, one of the first in the state, was founded in 1993 with five SROs.