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Parent luncheon focuses on school safety, security


The Farragut High School Parent Connection luncheons resumed for the New Year with a discussion about “Safety in the Schools.”

Sgt. Carl King and officer Eric Kern of the Knox County Sheriff’s Department presented specific safety procedures, offered advice and requested parental involvement at the luncheon held at Fox Den Country Club Thursday, Jan. 13.

Kern said the Knox County Schools Police Unit was organized April 26, 1999, six days after the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

“The tragedy at Columbine brought school security to the forefront,” Kern said.

Kern, who has been with the sheriff’s department for eight years, has been assigned to both Farragut and South-Doyle high schools. He said school security issues are reviewed on an individual basis and a safety plan is put into place based on the needs of the school.

“We are a presence in the school and that is important,” he said. “We are also trained to handle emergency situations by neutralizing and resolving a threat.”

Kern said 28 officers cover the 85 schools in Knox County and that many of the officers are assigned to two and three elementary schools. They hope to have five additional officers on duty in February. The department receives grants from the county government for additional training and materials.

King, who has been with the Sheriff’s Department for 13 years, was a D.A.R.E. officer for Farragut Intermediate School. King said that he believes parental involvement is a “strong deterrent” to teenage children misbehaving in the schools or getting involved in illegal activities either on or off campus.

“About one percent of the kids in the county are getting into trouble with drugs or alcohol both in and out of schools,” King said. tinue to get into trouble

Noting that bullying is a big problem in the schools, the officers said this behavior often times leads to violent actions.

“Alcohol and marijuana are prevalent in the schools,” Kern said. “And parents, keep a close watch on your prescription medication because some kids are bringing pills into school and selling them for as much as twenty five dollars apiece.”

King said each high school is subjected to a random K-9 drug-sniffing dog several times a year.

“We set up a schedule in July before the school year and no one knows with the exception of the principal when we will stop by and do a random check of cars in the parking lot and lockers,” King said.

The officers described lock-down procedures and cautioned parents to stay away from the school and listen to their television and radio stations in case of an emergency.

“We have a code system in place and relay information to the media,” King said. “An emergency system works best when parents remember to let the school safety officers and the school staff do their jobs. We won’t let anyone get in the way of keeping the kids safe.”

The officers are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information about the school safety officers, call the Knox County Sheriff’s Department at 215-2444.

 

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