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A local sheriff is giving his deputies keys to each school, to speed up a response to a school shooting

Stewart County School Keys
Posted at 4:47 PM, Jul 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 20:34:37-04

DOVER, Tenn. (WTVF) — Sheriff Frankie Gray's mind races when he drives between school campuses in Stewart County.

"It’s just not a rare occurrence anymore," he said.

He often wonders what he can do to protect the most lives, in the least amount of time, if the unthinkable happened. After all, the unthinkable seems to keep happening.

While questions continue to swirl around how law enforcement reacted to the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Sheriff Gray wants to make one thing very clear — his deputies will move quickly.

"I can’t imagine getting here having to wait 30 seconds, a minute or two minutes to get a key and get in that door," said Sheriff Gray.

That's why he's equipped each of his deputies with more than just a gun.

"From my chief deputy to my investigators, all the way down to my patrols, and of course my SROs, but everyone of those will have a key to get them in," said Gray.

As of this week, all of his deputies have all the keys necessary to get into every door in a Stewart County school building.

"If we get a call, we’re responding to the school, we’re going in, and we’re going straight to that threat," he said.

Deputies will also have maps of each school, color-coded down to individual hallways. Of course, this policy works well for a county this size. The entire county only has four public schools.

"It may not work for every jurisdiction in every county," said Gray.

The Sheriff has also heard feedback from people concerned that lost keys could wind up in the wrong hands.

"But they’re just like their guns or anything else, they have to be secured when they’re not using them," he said.

But that's a risk he's willing to take to help stop the unthinkable from ever happening here.

"I can’t control the gun laws, I can’t control mental health, I can’t control the background checks, but I can control certain things," said Sheriff Gray.

Gray has also sent his Student Resource Officers to a special active shooter training in Trigg County, Kentucky, this week and plans to have his deputies patrol school buildings, in addition to the SROs on duty.

All of this is in an effort to assure parents their children are in safe hands this school year.

"That’s the reason why I put it out, reassure them that we’re doing all we can. And we’re doing some other things I obviously can’t release out because it just defeats the purpose," said Gray.