Statewide school security assessment underway in Tennessee

Tennessee

In the wake of the Texas shooting, Tennessee’s Homeland Security and Safety Commissioner said the first-ever state review at all 1,800 schools statewide is well underway. 

“We have been training the trainers,” Commissioner David Purkey told News 2. 

He led a working group put together by Governor Bill Haslam to address the school safety after the shootings earlier this year in Florida. 

“The working group came up with three priorities. Number one is do a vulnerability assessment of all schools in Tennessee,” said the commissioner. 

The Homeland Security Department training focuses on local educators and law enforcement from each school. 

“It’s best for local governments to do this. They know their schools best,” added the commissioner. “They will put eyes on the school themselves. They will look at the vulnerability of those schools–facility assessments, what may be lacking, what equipment may be need.” 

The security review will also help determine which schools statewide will need more student resource officers (SROs). Some schools around the state, especially in rural areas, do not have SROs. 

A final priority of the governor’s working group was the development of a 24-hour app for students to reach out about any suspicions in school privately. 

“We have several options for the app in place. One of them is an app we already use in the Department of Homeland Security,” added the commissioner. “We are going to demo that app to state government leaders, I believe, next week.” 

The recommendations for the security upgrades are expected before the start of the school year in August. 

The General Assembly followed Governor Haslam’s proposal and put aside 35 million dollars for school security improvements in the coming year. 

School districts will be given grants pending the outcome of an application for their requested upgrades. 

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