STEWART COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – School starts in just a few weeks for most kids in Middle Tennessee, and a new school year is bringing new changes to school safety.
Weeks after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, details from that day have been released. Officers waited in the hall while the shooter was firing his weapon as someone was searching for a key to the classroom. That detail has now caused one Middle Tennessee sheriff’s department to make a change.
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It all starts with a key – a master key to be exact.
“All the outside doors, they have a master key so that once they get in the school, they can get into any classroom also,” explained Stewart County Sheriff Frankie Gray.
On Monday, the Stewart County Sheriff’s Office announced what it calls the “key to safety.” The department is now equipping all deputies and School Resource Officers for the district with a new tool to protect students against intruders: a master key to every school in the county.
“Officers are going straight to the threat. They know what to do; we have upgraded several things,” the Sheriff said. “We want to make sure that if, ever forbid, if we have an incident in school and we have to get there and there’s a problem, we don’t want a delayed time of trying to get into a door. Maybe people can’t buzz us in, maybe we need to get another door.”
The move comes in direct response to the Uvalde shooting, which left 19 students and two teachers dead.
Since then, school districts and law enforcement agencies have been taking another look at safety procedures, pointing to Texas as an example. The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety said officers were waiting for a classroom key, even though the door was unlocked.
Over in Warren County the school district announced new funding is giving them the opportunity to purchase the device, “Nightlock Lockdown,” providing an extra layer of security to prevent intruders from entering the door once it is activated.
“If you can’t protect your kids, as a law enforcement agency, as a school, as a parent, as a society, that’s what’s the world coming to,” Gray said.
The Stewart County deputies will also now each have a map of each of the four schools in the county to give them the best point of entry, in case they need to breach the school.