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School safety tops sheriff's priorities
Dec 27, 2012 4:00 pm
The recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., brought school safety to the forefront of the national agenda. Like in other counties and cities throughout the country, Wilson County officials are focusing their attention on preventing a similar tragedy locally.
Sheriff Robert Bryan said recently he didn't know if a school resource officer could have prevented what happened in Connecticut, but having an armed officer on the campus would have given those 20 student victims a fighting chance.
"An SRO would have been a heck of an obstacle," he said, adding he plans to meet with the director of schools and the Wilson Emergency Management Agency to see what other steps can be taken to improve campus safety.
Wilson County Schools already have SROs assigned to middle schools and high schools, but the Newtown shooting has officials considering adding SROs in Wilson County’s elementary schools also.
Bryan said he plans to address the issue in the coming year.
“The main thing right now, especially after the past few weeks, is to focus on the SRO situation in elementary schools,” said Bryan.
To Bryan, that focus ties in with the department’s overall focus – “protecting Wilson County and giving the taxpayers the protection they deserve.”
Although the department faced significant changes in 2012 with the retirement of longtime Sheriff Terry Ashe and Bryan’s appointment to the position, Bryan said the department handled the transition well and continues to make progress with some of the county’s pressing issues.
“We’ve had a serious problem with prescription drugs,” said Bryan. “As we’ve been doing for this whole past year, we’ve been focusing on that, trying to cut down on the drug problem.”
Bryan said he also plans to focus on the county jail in the near future.
“We’re going to have to work with the state prison system and see if we can’t get some of these inmates out of here,” said Bryan.
While the jail is not overpopulated right now, Bryan said he wants to take steps to prevent it from becoming so.
Collaboration will be key for any of Bryan’s plans, though.
“We need to work together with these other departments – work with the city police jurisdictions and work with the state police jurisdiction,” said Bryan. “We’re all in this for the same thing.”