Aug 3, 2022 - News

Police promise enhanced school presence

Illustration of police lights shown through the shape of a police hat.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Police presence at Nashville’s public schools will be more pronounced than ever going into the new school year Monday.

  • Chief John Drake announced yesterday that overtime officers would be stationed at all public elementary schools for several hours every day starting next week, with other on-duty officers scheduled to visit the campuses as well.
  • A long-term plan calls for phasing in 70 new, unarmed "safety ambassadors" for elementary schools who are trained in emergency response and equipped with a radio tuned to a police frequency.

Why it matters: The new school security plans were developed in response to the devastating school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 elementary school students and two teachers earlier this year.

  • Drake and schools director Adrienne Battle told reporters they hope the plans will reassure local students, parents and staff.
  • Battle said the plan offers "an appropriate balance between the desire for added security and safety in collaboration with the police department while not risking the criminalization of childhood behavior."

State of play: School resource officers will rotate among middle schools so that an officer is present for hours at a time during every school day.

  • Each of the district's 13 comprehensive high schools will have at least two full-time officers assigned to them.
  • Police also said magnet schools would see a "coordinated presence."

Between the lines: The added security measures, including police overtime and safety ambassadors, are expected to cost $5 million to $6 million, Drake said.

  • Police spokesperson Don Aaron tells Axios the department would look for funding to reimburse the overtime. The ambassadors would be school employees under the plan.
  • Drake said he sent a letter to retired officers encouraging them to apply for the part-time ambassador jobs.

What he's saying: "This is phase one," Drake said. "We'll keep looking to make things even better and safer for our kids."

  • "I have a grandson that's actually starting public schools. He's my heart, and I want to make sure he and all students have that protection."

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