WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Law enforcement leaders from across Tennessee have a new strategy to strengthen security in schools.

The school violence and safety summit Thursday was co-sponsored by Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association and
Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police. Sheriff Dusty Rhoades hosted the event at the Williamson County Public Safety Center in Franklin.

Their focus was on a collaborative approach to improved safety and responses to school violence.

The keynote speaker was Michele Gay, who’s child Josephine Gay was in the Sandy Hook School tragedy on December 14, 2012. She’s co-founder of an organization called Safe and Sound Schools, where she advocates for improving safety and security in schools and communities across the country.

“The importance of having first responders discussing school violence and safety is a tribute to their concern for the safety of children across the great state of Tennessee,” Gay said.

Also in attendance was the U.S. Department of Justice COPS Office Assistant Director Dr. Matthew Schiender and Mo Canady, Executive Director of the National Association of School Resource Officers.

There were 110 sheriffs and chiefs attending the summit and they initially recommended development of resources to appropriately respond to active shooters. Another key finding was the need for state and local funding to support the training and equipping of local law enforcement to prepare for acts of violence against children.

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“Local law enforcement agencies are the first responders to all violent acts in local communities and it is critical we demonstrate to the public we are deeply concerned about school violence and safety and taking steps to be better prepared to respond to all incidents,” said TSA Executive Director Retired Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe.

The Summit resulted in the TSA/TACP identifying several key outcomes, including:

  • Identifying steps to break down information and training silos to encourage
  • more collaborative efforts;
  • Broad discussion on legislative needs and potential funding opportunities;
  • Discussed several possible physical site security improvements;
  • Discussed the underutilization of innovative technology solutions as they
  • relate to improved school safety;
  • Discussion of key preparation steps based on lessons learned from acts of
  • violence in schools across the country