School security is a top priority after the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary last year and Hawkins County is getting ready to add additional personnel in response to the tragedy.
School resource officers aren't a new concept in Hawkins County, but now they are getting ready to add six additional officers.
Some community members say they're behind the sheriff's office 100 percent. Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson tells us his request for more officers passed a vote through the county commission without any problems because of the additional security they add to the schools. "They deter a lot of things like bullying, they work on thefts, keep down fights and sexual predators," adds Sheriff Lawson.
The six new resource officers used to work at the Hawkins County jail. Lawson says he chose them because he wants someone who is passionate about the job. "Most of these officers have children. They can relate so I believe they'll be an asset to us and to the schools too," says Lawson.
Lawson tells us the officers will be spread out through the school system. "Primarily in the high schools and certain middle schools will have some going in between," adds Lawson.
The officers go through a lot of training including going to the police academy, shadowing other officers, and learning how to handle situations. "We worked an active shooter drill, and deal with parents, students and all of their various problems or issues that they might have," says Sgt. Renee Rogers with the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office.
Community members tell us they feel at ease knowing there will be extra officers in the schools. "The presence of them there would cut down on some of the stuff because they would be more afraid to bring it into the schools," adds Cindy Hutson who supports the school resource officers.
The sheriff tells us five officers will cost nearly $223,000, and a grant pays for the sixth officer.
Hawkins County isn't the only district getting more protection. Washington County, Tennessee has approval for three new school resource officers and Johnson City has approval for four new officers.