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Senator drafting bill for more school resource officers

8:46 PM, Dec 18, 2012   |    comments
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SRO Corporal Chad Estes interacts with students at North Middle School during lunch.

Senator Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, is drafting a bill in hopes of increasing security in Tennessee schools.

The bill would require at least one school resource officer (SRO) or trained staff member in each school.

Typically, schools split the bill with law enforcement. Director of schools for Loudon County, Jason Vance, said five deputies cover 10 schools.

The district already spent $15,000 more than budgeted this year to transition from city officers to county deputies.

"We'd love to have an SRO in every one of our schools. I think that would be fantastic. However, I am concerned about the financial restraints that would come with it. We would hope that if the bill was introduced and was passed, that financial obligations would carry out alongside the bill," Vance said.

Sen. Niceley said he's unsure if state funding would be included.

"With budget restraints we have to be aware of the extra cost but we've gotta take care of our children too," Sen. Niceley said.

SRO Corporal Chad Estes splits his time between North Middle School and Eaton Elementary.

"When they drop their children off in the morning they can leave here knowing their children are safe," he said.

After the Newton shooting, a student wrote an essay referring to Estes.

It read, "We have an officer at the school, Mr. Estes, to watch over the children in the school... Mr. Estes loves the students at the school and would protect us with his life... Mr. Estes makes our school a safe place."

Sen. Niceley said the bill is still being drafted but he expects to present it to lawmakers in January.

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