SROs Celebrate 30 Years in Rutherford County Schools

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Rutherford County Sheriff’s school resource officers are celebrating 30 years of service as the first SROs in Tennessee at Rutherford County Schools.

Sheriff Truman Jones and Rutherford County Schools’ Director Elam Carlton teamed up to add SROs in five high schools in 1993.

The first SROs were Barry Benham, Phil Brooks, Dan Goodwin, Bill Kennedy and Bill West. The SROs expanded coverage when new high schools and middle schools opened through the years.

SROs are celebrating the anniversary throughout the academic year.

They will kick off their celebration Friday, Oct. 20 before the Siegel-Riverdale High School football game at Siegel High School. Jones and the original SROs will deliver the game ball to start the game. All SROs will be recognized during halftime.

An SRO challenge coin will be used the following week for the Rockvale-Siegel High School football game Oct. 27 at Rockvale High School. Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh, Jones, County Commissioner Pettus Reed and the first SROs will be recognized.

The Sheriff’s Office and Rutherford County Schools worked together to add additional SROs at other high schools and middle schools through the years.

County Commissioner Robert Peay led the drive to expand SROs in every middle and elementary school after 20 first-grade students and six educators were killed during a school shooting Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn.

Fitzhugh said SROs are critical in promoting school safety.

“Protecting the students, faculty and staff are the top priority for the SROs in Rutherford County Schools,” Fitzhugh said. “SROs conduct regular safety drills to educate the students, faculty and staff for safety. They provide law enforcement duties at school and after school activities such as football games.”

Director Jimmy Sullivan of the Rutherford County Schools said the school resource officer program has proven to be invaluable over the past 30 years.

“Not only does it provide visible security within our schools, these officers build relationships and rapport with students and employees, which contribute to the overall learning environment within our schools,” Sullivan said. “As a former student, teacher and administrator, I always appreciated their support.

“The program has been a wonderful investment into public education in Rutherford County and I look forward to our continued partnership for many years to come,” the director said.

Other SRO duties include:

· Building rapport with students.

· Mentoring students.

· Advising students.

· Teaching classes about safety.

· Coordinating with parents.

· Supporting extracurricular activities.

· Helping coach athletes.

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