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Thousands of SROs coming to Pigeon Forge for lessons in school safety

This is the first time the yearly NASRO conference has been in Tennessee, and organizers said it's the biggest conference yet.

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn — This week the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge will be one of the safest spots in East Tennessee. 

That's because over 2,000 School Resource Officers and administrators will be in the city for a national school safety conference.

This will be the first time this huge conference for the National Association of School Resource Officers, or NASRO, has been in Tennessee.

After an influx in school shootings in the U.S., coming to a conference to learn about safety, new techniques and technology are crucial. The speakers and training are aimed at doing just that.

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"The training is important to us because it further educates us when working in the schools to keep our kids safe," Kim Lay, the president of the Tennessee chapter of NASRO, TNSRO, said.

NASRO's main goal is to teach and enforce safety in schools, according to Mo Canady, the executive director of NASRO.

"They're going to spend a week really learning about school safety, how to be more effective," Canady explained. "Again, with students in that school environment. And overall how to really interact and build relationships in a community-based policing strategy which will certainly help to make those school campuses even safer."

All sorts of training and speakers will revolve around new technology, techniques and mindsets for safety. 

"So the ability for a SRO to have so many resources as his title entails is super important," Rudy Perez, a sergeant with the LA Schools Police Department, said.

It's something that hits home in Tennessee. TNSRO is the statewide chapter of NASRO.

"It makes the students safe and it makes the parents feel better knowing that their kids are coming to school and there are officers in the schools," Lay explained.

But safety isn't limited to the Smoky Mountains. Officers from as far as LA are bringing their perspective too.

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"Because I'm from Los Angeles, doesn't mean we're doing it all right, but we definitely learn from people coming from all across the country here," Perez said.

While the officers will be learning a lot, the end result makes it all worth it.

"I love working with kids," Lay said. "This is probably the best position I've had in Law Enforcement."

Everything from active shooting training to mental health classes will happen this week.

A bill was signed in Tennessee this year to fund SRO's in every school in Tennessee to increase safety. That will go into effect on July 1.

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