Blount Gets No Increase in School Resource Officers

By: Stephen McLamb
By: Stephen McLamb

Maryville, Blount County (WVLT) - Three more Blount County Sheriff's Deputies have left the department within the last week.

The officer shortage could force Sheriff Jim Berrong to make a tough call regarding school resource officers in your schools.

WVLT Volunteer TV’s Stephen McLamb met with the sheriff Wednesday.

You'll remember last year, Sheriff Berrong said funding cuts prompted him to have to cut the number of SROs in schools nearly in half.

But as more officers frustrated with pay, leave...

The sheriff says he's got a tough choice to make before school starts for some Monday.

After a lack of funding, Blount County school resource officers decreased last year from 21 to ten to twelve, leaving some schools like Montvale Elementary without a full time officer. With deputies leaving for better pay, Sheriff James Berrong says they're trying to hold it to that level this year.

"It's not going to improve any at this point and time. We're trying our best just to maintain that level as we speak,” Sheriff Berrong says.

Meanwhile school kids are getting ready for school not knowing if they'll have a resource officer or not.

"I would like to see at least one school resource officer in all schools,” Both of Dawn Denman's children went to Montvale Elementary where they lost their officer last year. He may have been gone but not forgotten.

"Officer Hurst,” says Zachary Denman.

“What was it like having him around?” McLamb says.

“Good. We felt safe all the time with him,” Zachary.

But this year, Zachary is headed to Heritage Middle, where he'll be smaller and younger than most. "It will probably be a lot more fights than in elementary, more violent stuff."

But when the SRO was pulled, Zachary never got to go through the fifth grade DARE Program which has his mother concerned as he enters middle school.

"So he didn't get to participate in any of that, you know, what he may be faced with going into middle school and things to do and ways to combat that," says Dawn.

So the big question now is will Blount County Schools start out with ten to twelve or just eight because of the recent departures from his force.

Sheriff Berrong says it's like trying to rob Peter to pay Paul.

He says he hopes to know by Friday.

And we will let you know on Volunteer TV and VolunteerTV.com as soon as a decision is made.


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