RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Anytime you mention guns in schools Paducah, Columbine, and Sandy Hook may come to mind.
Many school districts across the Mid-State are doing everything possible to reduce the number of guns from even making it to school campuses – and it’s working.
Fifteen to 20 years ago there were more reported cases of students bringing guns to campuses, but now with zero tolerance policies in place, the numbers are slowly dwindling.
The posted sign outside area schools sends a clear message – dangerous weapons are prohibited.
“A lot of school systems now have zero tolerance; they don’t allow weapons of any kind to be brought on campus,” said Rutherford County Schools Coordinator for Safe Schools Joshua Kubly.
In Rutherford County, the last reported guns on school campuses occurred at Riverdale, Siegel and La Vergne high schools.
But take a look at the latest numbers, only two guns were confiscated from students during the 2016-2017 school year.
“None of the weapons that have been found on campus the past couple of years at least it wasn’t determined they were intending to us it on campus,” Kubly said.
School Resource Officers also play a pivotal role.
Rutherford County was the first county in the state to have SRO’s.
They started with five in 1993.
After the Sandy Hook School shootings, the number was increased to over 50.
“The officers try to break down the barriers between the stereotypical law enforcement officer that kids either see or have been told about their parents and let them know they are not out to arrest everybody they are out to help people more than arrest,” said Capt. Barry Hendrixson. “An SRO feels if he arrests one of their kids they’ve failed in doing their jobs.”
And it’s that relationship between SROs and students that’s helping to prevent guns from making it to campus.
“Students feel comfortable in coming and talking with schools resource officer if they hear a student may be bringing a weapon on campus,” Kubly said.
Metro schools have also seen a drop.
During the 1996-1997 school year, there were 16 gun found on campuses.
Last school year there were only six.
This seems to be a trend at most Middle Tennessee School districts.
“The guns were found because students went to their SRO and said I don’t want anything to happen to you, or my friends here, but I want you to know a subject brought a gun to school,” Hendrixson said.
Rutherford County Schools don’t do random searches for weapons. They must have reasonable suspicion, which is why they rely heavily on students if they see something to say something.