This week, members of the East Tennessee media will have the chance to watch as some of Knox County's new school resource officers learn such important skills as Drug Recognition, Verbal Conflict Management and Crime Scene Preservation. Officers from the newly-expanded security force are in the middle of an intense, six-week program that will prepare them for the coming school year.
In March, the Knox County School Board was given permission to hire 58 armed resource officers to supplement a force of 41 currently being supplied by the Knoxville Police Department and the Knox County Sheriff's Department. The expansion of the security force came months after a deadly school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 children and six adult staff members were fatally shot by 20 year-old gunman Adam Lanza.
Knox County Public Schools' recently-hired Chief of Security Gus Paidousis says the new officers are expected to provide security, but also "become part of that school community and be role models." He says the fact that the officers are carrying weapons is "very, very secondary and it will become almost a non-issue as the school year progresses."