Clinton schools hire full-time armed police officers

11:31 PM, Jan 16, 2013   |    comments
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One East Tennessee school system has already made the call to add uniformed officers in its schools.

Clinton City School District, made up of only elementary schools, joined forces with the city and police department. This week, three Clinton police officers started full-time inside the three schools.

The images from the Sandy Hook school shooting continue to haunt the small town of Clinton.

"It certainly hits home, and it makes you think about things. Everybody here was deeply saddened," said first-grade teacher Dee Dee Swanner.

"When that happened we did not have resource officers in our three elementary schools," said Director of Schools Vicki Violette.

"We really had to look at how well our kids are protected at our schools," said Mayor Scott Burton.

The schools teamed up to find the best solution they knew to offer. Starting Tuesday, they staffed three full-time uniformed officers at their three schools: Clinton, North Clinton, and South Clinton Elementary.

Neither the city nor the schools had enough money to fund the officers on their own, but they decided to make it a priority. They came up with a temporary fix-- they split the $75,000 it will cost for this semester and evaluate their budgets in the summer.

"There will be a challenge this summer as we work and decide how we can fund this into the fall," said Violette.

But for now, the city felt an armed presence patrolling the halls was something they could not go without. It brings a peace of mind for parents, staff, and students.

"It is very reassuring to drop my children off here at school and have a police officer and staff members welcome the children and know their presence is known here in the school system," said parent Cassie Dejarnette.

Following the Newtown shooting, school leaders in Knox County said they did not plan a permanent increase in the number of officers posted at schools, but are working to ensure every school has a secure entrance, and they say they have been improving the security of classroom doors.

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