What started out as a good deed by a sheriff's deputy ended up with two Williamson County schools being placed on lockdown late Wednesday morning.
According to Chief Deputy Dusty Rhoades, the regular school resource officer at Heritage Middle School was absent due to illness.
In an attempt to help out, a reserve deputy stepped in to help patrol the school.
However, the reserve deputy was not familiar to office staff, and he did not sign in with the front office. That set off a series of events, including a lockdown at Heritage Middle School and a nearby elementary school, as well as a law enforcement response and a notification to parents.
"We were sending everyone there we could until we knew what was at the bottom of it," Rhoades said. "We sent every available unit we had en route down there with Spring Hill PD."
Upon their arrival, authorities were quickly able to determine the man inside the school earlier was a legitimate deputy reserve.
Authorities said confusion began after the uniformed reserve deputy waved to office staff, but did not check in to tell them who he was.
Since they were unaware who the man was, school personnel called the main office, which in turn notified the Sheriff's Department.
"He didn't sign out. That was our fault; he thought the front office staff was busy. When they didn't see his signature and see him, [a] lockdown [was put in place]," Rhoades explained.
Parents at both of the Williamson County schools were alerted of the incident.
An automated call from Williamson County Schools Communications Director Carol Birdsong said, "I'm calling to tell you we had the opportunity to practice our lockdown procedures at school today, while a sheriff's deputy was visiting. You may have been contacted by your child. Please know that your child is safe. We will continue to practice drills as part of our school safety plan."
School officials said all reserve deputies will be required to sign in and out of schools.
Chief Deputy Rhoades says the reserve deputy will not be reprimanded and that this was a learning opportunity to make the system safer.
Williamson County is one of the few counties in Middle Tennessee that has approved a budget to eventually have SRO's in each school.
Wednesday, May 22 2013 7:21 PM EDT2013-05-22 23:21:11 GMT
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