Sheriff Jim Hammond on Thursday night told members of the County School Board that $4 million is needed to provide School Resource Officers for all of the 79 schools.
He said currently there are 31 SROs in 29 schools, leaving 50 uncovered.
School Board member Rhonda Thurman said she believes the community could come together to provide the necessary funding. "It's something we've got to do," she said.
Ms. Thurman said it would require contributions from not only the city and county but the other municipalities.
During his comments, Sheriff Hammond offered suggestions to help improve school security and safety measures that could be implemented in the public schools that he said could help protect students from acts of violence.
He said, “After the most recent tragic and horrific events that occurred in Florida at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018, our Nation, especially our law enforcement and educational systems, have once again been forced to re-evaluate the safety of our students and how we address violence in our public schools.
“There are many ideas that have been offered from every side of the political system. Nevertheless, I believe the main objective is clear – we must protect our children and harden our schools against violence.”
Sheriff Hammond stated that he believes first and foremost, every public school in Hamilton County should have a fully trained, P.O.S.T certified SRO assigned to each campus. He said the $4 million would be required in order to hire, train, and station enough additional SRO’s to cover the remaining schools in the Hamilton County System.
The sheriff said, “There are some critical decisions that are going to have to be made that could include additional resources and funding by local officials. These decisions may include hardening our local schools, retro-fitting existing schools with upgraded security and surveillance measures, and considering every option on the table.
"Other possibilities to consider include hiring more SRO’s, training students and teachers in safety protocols, hiring private security or military veterans, or the possibility of arming qualified teachers.”
He said whatever decisions are made, it could take weeks and even months to implement the required changes.
In conclusion, the sheriff noted the problems the country is facing as a Nation pertaining to school violence do not stem from a “gun problem” as so many people are now trying to conclude..He said, " What is causing violence in our schools is a People Problem.'
“In order to deal with the problem of school violence that is affecting our nation, we must look at the source… whether that be mental illness, foreign or domestic terrorism, a lack of parenting, or a lack of spiritual and/or moral guidance.”As your sheriff, I am here tonight to say it is imperative that we work together, as long as it takes, to find the best way forward in order to protect our community’s greatest assets, our children.“
One speaker called for the need for full security at the schools, while a student group and activist Franklin McCallie said arming teachers is not a good idea.