GREENE COUNTY, TN (WJHL)- The state of Tennessee says security guards at Greene County schools may be violating the law by carrying guns on campus. This is because in Greene County, these guards aren’t certified officers.
Greene County is the only school system we checked with that does not have any school resource officers or SRO’s in the schools.
Carter County, Sullivan County, Johnson City, Kingsport, Bristol, and Elizabethton all have SROs in the schools.
Greene County Sheriff Pat Hankins is asking Greene County schools to hire certified SROs, after the state pointed out multiple issues with the current security guard system.
Instead of police officer’s or sheriff’s deputies as the law requires, there are four armed security guards for all of the Greene County schools.
“None of those are qualified to be SRO officers,” Hankins said. “It would be the same as the school system employing me to be a school teacher and I have no qualifications of doing that. Nor have the officers that they have been to any school to know how to handle a situation, when it comes up, as a police officer,” Hankins said.
The state sent Hankins a letter saying all school resource officers must be full-time, certified law enforcement officers, and not meeting the minimum training standards for SROs could open up the county to “extreme civil liability”
“This is a problem that’s been going on a long time,” Hankins said.
The state also said if someone other than a trained officer is armed on school property they are in violation of a felony weapon law.
“I’m telling you it’s got to come to an end,” Hankins said.
Director of Greene County Schools David Mclain said though he sees a need for the SROs, he doesn’t know how the school system will come up with the estimated $240,000 to pay for them.
Right now the school system is paying $138,000 for the salaries of the security guards.
Hankins said because state law requires certified SROs to be full time employees of the sheriff’s department with full benefits, the cost for four SROs would add about $100,000 to that cost.
Mclain said the school system is looking in to how to pay for these officers.Copyright 2016 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.