NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Images of the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School, and the highly scrutinized police response, rocked the nation.
“We don’t want that to happen in Tennessee and gosh,” Governor Bill Lee said while taking a deep breath, “we don’t want that to happen in Tennessee.”
On June 6, 13 days after the Uvalde school shooting, Governor Lee issued an executive order to enhance school safety across the state.
“Primarily, what it does is pull together the departments of our state government that are connected to school safety. So, the Department of Safety, the Department of Education, and others like Emergency Management to develop a plan,” he said.
Those departments have spent the last few weeks reviewing feedback requested from local law enforcement agencies and school districts.
“They have met every other week regularly,” Governor Lee explained. “We are creating a plan that provides accountability, that provides transparency, so parents know what’s happening in the schools.”
News 2 asked if the public would ever see the recommendations that come out of the interagency communications.
“In a couple of weeks, we’re going to have a first report that will primarily be about the numbers and what we have found,” Governor Lee responded. “This is a strategy to do an assessment really to see exactly where we stand, what schools are actually implementing the practices, and then, we build from there.”
Governor Lee explained this order adds to the work that started in 2019 when an additional 213 SROs were placed through a grant program. At that time, he also doubled the state’s annual investment in school safety funding which was used for improvements to building security and violence intervention programming.
Seven weeks after the order was issued, News 2 asked, “What actually is going to be implemented day one when kids walk into school?”
“We have spent a great deal of time around the state training law enforcement,” Governor Lee responded. “We’ve also engaged our highway patrol with the local schools to know the superintendent, to know the principal, to know the particular school they’re associated with. We’re developing a strategy for random checks of things like locked doors so that we know that schools are in fact following the protocols that we’ve put into place.”
While Governor Lee is encouraged by the additional preventative steps to keep students safe in Tennessee, he says the work is far from over.
“This is something that we will never stop doing. We start with what we’ve done a couple of years ago. We accelerated this summer, but this is going to be a never-evening strategy toward making our schools safer and safer for our children.”