Deputy Dustin Evans is responsible for helping keep two Dickson County middle schools safe.
As soon as he gets to campus in the morning, he starts monitoring cameras and securing the perimeter.
“These door numbers are visible from the inside and outside, so if an emergency were to happen, our teachers in the classrooms can pick up their phones, call dispatch and say, ‘I’m in classroom 127; the threat is outside door 24,'” Deputy Evans explained as he pointed out the door numbering system.
Deputy Evans also walks the hallways doing door checks. There are two other “very important” parts of his job.
“A lot of dodgeball; that’s always fun,” Deputy Evans said. “[During] lunches we do a different kind of music; I’ll be the DJ one day. They don’t like my style of music obviously, but we have a good time with it.”
Deputy Evans is naturally a fun-loving person. He did go viral with a lip-syncing video, but there’s a reason behind the playful stuff. It helps build relationships with students, so they feel comfortable coming to him with safety concerns.
“I always felt safe when we had an SRO in high school and that’s kind of what I’m bringing here,” Deputy Evans said. “I want the students to feel safe and know that hey, they’re a person too, they can help me.”
There’s no doubt recent school shootings have affected how SROs do their job. Deputy Evans has sought out additional active shooter training and said he is constantly visualizing how he would react to a threat.
“There is a lot of hurt in my heart because we want our students to come to school and feel safe,” he said. “This isn’t an environment where they should be in fear every day.”
There are about 50 cameras on the campus of William James Middle School, one of the two schools Deputy Evans patrols. He can see all the cameras in real time on an iPad he carries around with him while walking the halls.
“In this day and age, it’s about secured entrances and making sure that you keep people out of your buildings if at all possible,” said Dickson County Director of Student Services Steve Sorrells. “School resource officers have been with us for a good while, but to put them in elementary schools, 20 years ago you wouldn’t have thought of or fathomed.”
But it’s happening. The Dickson County Commission voted this month to put an SRO on every campus. Sorrells said it’s an important part of their safety strategy.
“The closer they are to the students, the more preventive they become in making sure that things don’t happen,” Sorrells said.
Also new this year, “Stop the Bleed kits,” are part of the new normal for schools. What isn’t new is the mission of every SRO.
“I want to make sure that our students go home safe,” Deputy Evans said. “I want to make sure that our students are safe here; we don’t want to have an incident here and we’re trying to prevent that.”
On top of placing an SRO on every campus, Dickson County Schools are planning more safety upgrades with the help of extra federal and state funds.
Both Congress and the Tennessee state legislature boosted funding for school safety in this year’s budget.
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