Deputies Jeff Key, Allie Chapman and Steven Wright have accepted positions as SROs, School Resource Officers, for Cheatham County School District’s three middle schools, Cheatham Middle School, Harpeth Middle School and Sycamore Middle School.
SRO Chris Gilmore recognized the officers during the Cheatham County School Board meeting held, Monday, March 6, 2017.
In October of 2016 Sheriff Mike Breedlove and Cheatham County School Resource Officer Chris Gilmore addressed the Cheatham County Commission seeking budget funding to make improvements within the district’s SRO program.
“School resource officer programs provide the crucial link between school districts and law enforcement agencies in their continued efforts to establish and maintain secure and safe learning environments.” –Tennessee Department of Education, School Resource Officers (SROs) Programs, read more at: http://www.tennessee.gov/education/article/school-resource-officer-programs#sthash.fYGd3tuf.dpuf
Cheatham County School District has operated with three school resource officers since implementing the program. Prior to hiring the newest officers for Cheatham County Middle Schools, only three deputies were responsible for 11 schools. Two, of the of the three deputies, covered (4) schools while one deputy covered (5) schools within the district.
The need for additional SROs became apparent in September 2016 when Sycamore Middle School Guidance Counselor Molly Hudgens diffused a potentially fatal incident. Hudgens coaxed a 14-year old student to release a loaded weapon brought onto campus with the intent to kill numerous teachers. The heroic actions of Hudgens kept anyone from being harmed, an unprecedented outcome, one she’ll be recognized and awarded the 2017 Citizen Honors Award in Arlington, Virginia at the Arlington Cemetery on March 25, 2017 by The Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
Cheatham County Sheriff Mike Breedlove stated during the county commission meeting in October, a few short weeks following the incident, the community mind-set had always been, “it won’t happen here” and then it did happen in small town Cheatham County, Tennessee. Breedlove and Gilmore both seen this as a “wake up call” with the need to prepare for the next event. (School Resource Officers In All Schools, October 26, 2016 https://cheathamnews.com/school-resource-officers)
“It’s not ‘if ‘ anymore,” stated Breedlove, “ now it’s ‘when’ it happens again and we need to be ready.”
According to SRO Chris Gilmore the number of cyber crimes, bullying, sexting, drugs, safety violations and the growing need of security in our schools has consistently increased each year. In a report submitted to county commissioners it reflected the increased call volume, per year, needing SRO assistance within district wide schools. A total of 151 calls were documented in 2011-2012; a total of 261 calls were documented in 2015-2016 and the call volume is expected to exceed 261 this year.
School Resource Officers, explained Gilmore, deal with an additional 8 to 12 undocumented or unaccounted issues not meeting criteria for submitting a report on a daily basis and aren’t reflected in the total call volume reflected in the submitted report.
The number of cyber crimes were also not reflected within the submitted report. Cheatham County Central High School, Harpeth High School and Sycamore High School has had an alarming increase in Cyber Crimes, including sexting and bullying, according to the Cheatham County’s Cyber Investigation Department. The cyber crime volume has increased to a status one investigator could be hired, if funding was available, to work full-time with cyber crimes only within district high schools. Until now the SRO Program hasn’t had the funding for any additional officers which has resulted in many cyber crime investigations having to go unaddressed.
In January 2017 Cheatham County Commission voted and approved funding to hire three new SROs through the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office budget, providing a total of six SRO officers for Cheatham County Schools.
The new officers Jeff Key, Allie Chapman and Steven Wright are in the training process and will be assigned to one of the district’s three middle schools prior to the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.
To learn more about the importance of School Resource Officers visit http://www.tennessee.gov/education/article/school-resource-officer-programs
To learn more about Molly Hudgens and to read more articles written by Cheatham News visit https://cheathamnews.com/?s=molly+hudgens
Congratulates Cheatham County Deputies Jeff Key, Allie Chapman and Steven Wright on their newest endeavor of their careers as School Resource Officers for Cheatham County Middle Schools. Thank you for your service. – Cheatham News
Cheatham News (c) 2017