Hamilton County Sheriff discusses school safety
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond discussed school safety at the Hamilton County School Board meeting on Thursday.
He shared his own thoughts on possible ways to ramp up security at schools.
“Guns are not the problem folks. The problem is with people who will use any weapon including guns to kill other people,” Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said.
Sheriff Hammond has been a proponent of securing campuses with School Resource Officers.
“We know that from all the schools we analyzed that a shooter who’s determined to kill people kills somebody about every three seconds. That’s a lot of people you could kill if you don’t have somebody firing back,” Sheriff Hammond said.
But the issue, SROs can be expensive.
There are currently SROs at 29 schools, and to have them at the other schools, the Sheriff said, would take an estimated additional 4 million dollars, or about 25 dollars per student.
For funding, he said, he’s not encouraged by what he’s seeing that may come from the federal or state level.
“This year in the initial projection another 1.4 million dollars is being allocated with a portion of that in the initial being put towards the opportunity for you to add additional SROs,” Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson said to the Sheriff.
Dr. Johnson added that another commitment they would like to make in this budget cycle is to increase the number of counselors and social workers.
Sheriff Hammond also mentioned that he’s not taking off the table arming teachers.
“Arming certain teachers who volunteer, who meet the criteria that we require of any reserve officer, which is to go through our initial fire arms training, the use of a gun the good the bad and the ugly of the gun, how they react to it when police arrive on the scene. All kinds of training,” Sheriff Hammond said.
Tennessee State Lawmakers are still debating arming teachers.