The newly formed School Resource Officers Unit at the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Office welcomed their first round of SROs on July 26. They were officially sworn-in by the Honorable Douglas Collins. They include: Devon Gillett; Samuel Swatzell; Mark Holbert; Justin Wenger; Jim Ballenger; Dustin Frost; Holly Hartness; Megan Littrell and Travis Edwards.
According to HCSO Captain David Cribley, following the announcement by Governor Bill Lee that a grant would be available to support the placement of a certified SRO in every public school, Sheriff Chad Mullins made the decision that the County would establish and maintain the unit. With the backing of Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain and the Hamblen County Commission’s approval, the grant application was submitted to the state and immediately approved. Through the grant, the HCSO was awarded funding for 18 SROs.
Captain Cribley noted that 14 of the 18 SROs will be in place by the beginning of the school year.
“We already had two SROs in the school system; we have three individuals from within the department transferring to the SRO Unit and we have hired nine new ones.” he added. “At present we are in the process of testing for the remaining four.”
Although the grant provides $75,000 per SRO, the funding for each officer will need to include their salary, benefits, training, equipment and other related costs, annually.
“Starting a new Unit is costly,” Sheriff Chad Mullins stated. “Although $75,000 is a substantial amount of money, it doesn’t come close to what is required to get these SRO’s established, trained and into the schools to protect our kids.”
Sheriff Mullins added, “We are honored to accept the challenge and the responsibility for the SRO Unit, but the county couldn’t cover the start-up costs without the support of The Hamblen County Board of Education and the City of Morristown.”
For the next two fiscal years, both entities will contribute monies to assist with the costs, apart from the SROs’ salaries, associated with establishing the unit.
Captain Cribley said as a parent, he is pleased about having a full-time law enforcement officer within each of the Hamblen County Schools.
“We have worked tirelessly to get our SROs in place so parents, teachers and students can start the new year feeling safe. Our SROs are excited about their new roles within the school system and are anxious to meet their students and faculty members.”
Captain Cribley encourages students, faculty and parents to get to know their SROs and speak freely with them on any concerns they may have.