(Dayton, TN) – On the heels of another school shooting, the Rhea County Commission voted unanimously in favor of supporting the proposal by Sheriff Mike Neal and Director of Schools Jerry Levengood to hire four additional School Resource Officers.
The additional school resource officers will ensure each of the seven schools in the Rhea County School System will have one officer and two at the high school.
“It’s one step closer in our process of protecting our children and making our schools safe,” says Neal. “It’s nice that we had a 9-0 vote with everybody on board.”
The additional officers will cost an estimated $170,000 but proponents of the measure say it’s a no-brainer.
“You can’t put a price on a child’s life, so whatever it costs to get these children protected is what we’re trying to do,” states School Board Chairman Perry Massengill.
Director of Schools, Jerry Levengood says it’s the best layer of protection we have.
“I appreciate the sheriff cooperating with us and us cooperating with them. It’s a joint effort between us, the Sheriff’s office, the School Board, and the County Commission. It means a lot to me for sure,” insists Levengood.
While this is the most important layer of protection, Neal and Levengood assures us it’s not the only one.
“We do drills throughout the year, and we do extensive training throughout the summer when there’s no school in session,” says Neal. “We do lockdown drills at every school.”
“We spend more time training for school situations as far as team training than anything else.”
With two officers assigned to the high school and one at Rhea Middle, there will now be a total of three officers on the county’s largest campus.
Sheriff Neal insists keeping our children safe is an ongoing effort and one which he and his department are 100% committed.
“We’re gonna continue to upgrade our security by working with the school board and school superintendent. Enhanced surveillance systems are in place and efforts are underway to make them more effective.”