CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — When Carter County Sheriff Mike Fraley started his term last month one of his goals was to fill the open School Resource Officer positions immediately, now more than a month in he says progress is being made.
Fraley said they have doubled their SRO staff since the start of the school year and just hired another SRO on Tuesday, but they are working to keep schools covered in the meantime.
When the school year started, Fraley said there were only 4 SROs to cover the four county high schools. As of Tuesday, eight are now on staff with a 9th set to start on Wednesday.
“We were able to bring a few back that had left and came back and one of the positions is part-time,” said Fraley.” He retired but he came back part-time and in January he’s going to go back to full-time status.”
Five positions still need to be filled. While they remain short-staffed, Fraley said members from his department as well as other agencies are working to maintain a presence on all of the campuses.
“I’ll never feel totally secure because you never know one day to the next,” Fraley said. “But I feel more confident every day that with the help of the Highway Patrol and other agencies and the constables that we’re going to do everything we can to keep the schools safe.”
Fraley said he’s looking both internally and externally to fill positions.
“I’m looking at some of the senior corrections officers that may be ready to go to the academy, ” said Fraley. “Some of the positions we have a lot of officers from out of state that have to go through a transition school.”
As the department looks to fill the open positions, Lieutenant Mike Carlock — who runs the SRO Department for the county — said the SRO position is about building relationships with staff, students, and their families.
“Our purpose is to make sure that we provide a very safe environment for these people to be able to conduct an educational environment, but also to get to know them to understand families, family dynamics, that kind of stuff,” said Lieutenant Mike Carlock.
Carlock said he hopes to both grow the department and help the officers who join grow personally and professionally.
Sheriff Fraley said he wants to have the positions filled as soon as but believes they can be almost fully staffed by January.