All Bristol, Tennessee, schools will have school resource officers beginning in the 2022-23 school year.
The city council voted to fund two additional officers during their meeting Tuesday night. Previously, each school did not have a dedicated officer, so officers had to split time between schools. The 2022-2023 school year starts in August.
We are committed to the partnership with our schools in providing the most safe and secure environment possible. - Matt Austin, Bristol Tennessee Chief of Police
Response to recent news
On May 24, 2022, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos fatally shot nineteen students and two teachers, and wounded seventeen other people, at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, United States. Earlier in the day, he shot his grandmother in the forehead at home, severely wounding her.
Many people, including community leaders in the twin cities of Bristol, have been looking for solutions to mitigate such an act in our local schools. Bristol Tennessee City Council members chose to fund School Resources Officers for all schools in the city. This prevents officers from having to move between schools, leaving a few of the schools uncovered at times.
The move seems to be in contrast with the desires of the Biden administration. The residents and parents of Bristol, Tennessee, appear to be pleased with the move and believe this is the right choice for our community - regardless of what the state or federal governments may choose as the preferred path.
Monday, June 6, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 97, directing accountability measures for school safety and an evaluation of training for Tennessee law enforcement. The order also establishes additional resources to support parents, teachers, and law enforcement in an effort to improve school safety.
“Parents need to have full confidence that their children are safe at school, and thankfully, Tennessee has built a firm foundation with our practical approach to securing schools, recognizing crisis and providing confidential reporting of any suspicious activity. This order strengthens accountability and transparency around existing school safety planning and assures Tennessee parents that our efforts to protect students and teachers will continue.” - Bill Lee, Governor of Tennessee
For more information on the Executive Order, you can find the news release with more details here.
Bristol residents, including D.E. Davis, say they believe the solution is due diligence. Davis says there are plenty of laws on the books, and the criminals are the ones who do not abide by them. Other Bristol residents interviewed had the same sentiment, and none believed additional laws would help the situation.