On Friday, Hamilton County Sheriff Austin Garrett, joined by Tennessee Senator Bo Watson, County Mayor Weston Wamp, and Soddy Daisy City Mayor Steve Everett, announced his intent to expand the HCSO’s School Resource Program to include all local charter schools within Hamilton County.
There are currently eight charter schools in Hamilton County, two of which, have been recently staffed by School Resource Officers from the Soddy Daisy Police Department. It is Sheriff Garrett’s goal to have the remaining (6) charters schools staffed shortly after the beginning of 2024.
This expansion of the School Resource Program into our local charter schools is possible due to a new Statewide School Resource Officer (SRO) Program Grand funded by Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly. The grant provides funding to local law enforcement entities to place one full-time, POST-certified SRO in each K-12 public school and public charter school in Tennessee. Local law enforcement agencies are eligible to apply for funding not to exceed $75,000 per year, per SRO, per school for which they are responsible for providing SRO services.
“The HCSO is grateful to Governor Bill Lee, Senator Bo Watson and members of our local legislative delegation for their leadership in making this important grant possible for our local public and charter schools,” Sheriff Garrett stated. “Their commitment, along with support from County Mayor Weston Wamp and our local Hamilton County Commission, has been instrumental as we expand our current program.
“As elected officials and moreover as a community, the safety, education, and well-being of our children should be our most important mission. This grant allows us to better serve the needs of our kids and will help ensure they have a safe, productive place to learn. This important step, made possible by a collective effort of local and state leaders, embodies our agency’s motto, ‘One Team One Mission’.”
In addition to expanding the School Resource Program to include charter schools, Sheriff Garrett also announced for the first time since 2019, the HCSO School Resource Deputy Unit will be fully staffed to cover the public schools within our coverage agreement with the Hamilton County Department of Education by the end of the fall semester of 2023. This was made possible in great part to our agency’s enhanced recruitment efforts and the historic pay increase we implemented at the beginning of my first term in September of 2022.
“As state leaders we advocated for this funding and established legislation to support these positions; however, I commend the local municipalities that stepped up to help fully fund these positions and ensure charter schools were not left out,” Sen. Watson stated. “As a community, we all play a part in strengthening public safety, and protecting students across Hamilton County is one of the most important things we can do together.”
“In Hamilton County, we are committed to every student having access to a quality education, and that begins with the safety of students and educators. I applaud the State of Tennessee and Hamilton County Sheriff Austin Garrett for aggressively taking action to keep our schools safe,” stated Mayor Wamp.