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Farragut Primary, Intermediate schools in KCSD’s ‘Cops in Schools’ rotation

Officer Jeff Riddle of the Knox County Sheriff’s Department talks with some children during his rotation at Farragut Primary and Intermediate schools.- Tracy K. Morgan/farragutpress
As of Feb. 2, all Farragut schools have access to school officers, assigned by the Knox County Sheriff’s Department.

The Cops in Schools program, run by the sheriff’s department, recently hired 10 school officers to rotate among the 25 elementary schools in Knox County, grades K-5, which includes Farragut Primary and Farragut Intermediate schools.

Beginning with the 2002-03 school year, the sheriff’s department placed an officer at Farragut Middle School. Officers have been assigned to all Knox County high schools for approximately three years, according to Ashley Carrigan, sheriff’s department grants manager.

Carrigan explained that the newest program is funded by a three-year grant from the Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services Office. She pointed out that Knox County currently has two grants for Cops in Schools.

Each of the grants is approximately $1.2 million, which is then divided over three years.

“We had officers in the high schools, and then the first cops grant put 10 officers in the middle schools, and this one will put 10 officers in the elementary schools,” Carrigan added.

Each school officer has been assigned to two to three schools, and rotates between these schools on a full time basis.

The officers will be engaged primarily in mentoring activities, helping to identify at-risk children at an early age.

In addition, the officers are encouraged to interact with students on an individual basis, as well as in groups.

The officers will also assist principals at the elementary schools in developing plans and strategies to prevent and/or minimize dangerous situations that may occur on campus.

KCSD Officer Jeff Riddle has been assigned to patrol Farragut Primary, Farragut Intermediate and Hardin Valley Elementary schools.

Riddle believes his job is to ensure the safety of every person inside the school, which includes students, faculty, parents, and visitors.

“I want to bring back the belief that school is a safe place,” Riddle said.

FPS principal Emily Lenn described Riddle’s mission as one of protection for the school. She pointed out that he would not be directing traffic or teaching classes routinely.

“We are pleased to have this support from the sheriff’s department,” Lenn said. “He patrols the areas, both in his vehicle and on foot on the property. We can call him if we need assistance with specific concerns.”

Before accepting the assignment as a school officer, Riddle worked for seven years as the D.A.R.E. officer at Farragut Intermediate School.

FIS principal Robert Frazier said he is happy the school will continue its work with Riddle.

“Officer Riddle has an excellent relationship with the boys and girls, and the teachers here at our school,” Frazier said, “and I am sure he will continue to be an asset.”

In addition, Frazier expressed appreciation to Sheriff Tim Hutchison for securing the grant that will be used in service to the boys and girls in Knox County.

Hutchison said, “We are looking forward to expanding our partnership with the schools this year. It’s such a great opportunity for law enforcement and the community to work together to protect our kids.”

FIS assistant principal Kay Wellons pointed out the importance of young students seeing policemen as “good guys” whose job is to help the community and its citizens.

“I believe these officers who have been assigned by the sheriff’s department to various schools will be able to establish relationships with students, parents and staff,” Wellons said. “And show that policemen definitely care and want to help and interact with the community and its citizens before there are problems or any major concerns or issues,” she added.

Riddle said he is well prepared to deal with any law enforcement issues, including custody disputes.

“I want to maintain safety in the school just by my presence . . . I hope that seeing my car, seeing me in the hallways, will somehow be a deterrent,” he said.

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