NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Most parents want School Resource Officers in elementary schools.
A large percentage of them said SROs would help ward off dangers in the classroom. That’s according to a recent poll by Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC).
Joshua Liberty loves his job as an SRO in Dickson County.
“It’s hard to say, but I have lived a good life and if something happens, I will do anything to protect these babies at my school,” Liberty said.
A recent poll by VUMC shows parents appreciate SROs, too; 80% of parents think their students are safer when an officer is present.
“It’s your presence,” Liberty said. “People can see that you’re there. It stops people from wanting to go crazy at an elementary school.”
This statistic was released nearly a year after the Covenant School shooting.
“There are crazy people out there and want to get into the school to stop students from learning in a healthy environment,” Liberty said.
For the first time in a long time, Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) have put an SRO in every middle and high school thanks to grant money from the state. However, SROs currently are not in elementary schools.
The Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) said they patrol during school hours, but don’t have the manpower to staff an SRO at every elementary school right now.
Liberty said his priority is protecting all students.
“When they get to fifth grade, they say they’re not babies anymore,” Liberty said. “I tell them, ‘You’re my baby when you’re here, and I have to protect you.’”
News 2 reached out to the MNPD for a statement on the issue. They replied:
“Last September we became fully staffed with SROs in Middle and High schools. Our safety initiative continues outside elementary schools and our precinct commanders have directed officers to pay special attention to elementary schools when in session. As you know, staffing is a balancing act. We continue to work with MNPS on coverage.”
MNPS, meanwhile, sent the following statement to News 2:
“For the first time in several years, the MNPD has been able to fully staff the SRO program for middle and high schools.
“Our team has been working with the Metro Nashville Police Department to develop an effective and age-appropriate elementary School Resource Officer program, as part of our broader collaboration and partnership around school safety. SROs are selected from the existing police force, and so we understand that it may take a while for staffing to catch up with the need and desire for more SROs.
“In the meantime, the MNPD has enhanced the safety of our elementary schools with additional patrols and police officers stationed outside of schools to add an extra layer of protection and visibility.”
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