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County officials unveil school safety initiatives

Staff Reports • Mar 13, 2018 at 11:28 AM

The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, Wilson County Schools and the Lebanon Special School District announced plans Tuesday to enhance school safety throughout the district. 

In the wake of recent school shootings in Kentucky and Florida, the numbers of student threats have spiked both locally and nationally. Officials said while few of those threats have been deemed credible, local agencies felt it was important to establish a more comprehensive reporting system for complaints.

The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office has created a “Concerned Citizens Report,” along with a specialized database to help track and manage all future incident reports. Any time a report is entered into the system, a text message and email will automatically be sent to a school resource officer supervisor for review.

Wilson County is one of a few counties in the state to have at least one school resource officer in each public school, including multiple officers at high schools.

Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan said the centralized database will not only provide for more thorough record keeping of each case, but will also prevent incidents of suspected violence from slipping through the cracks.

“In the past, some parents have been filing complaints at the school level, while others have been contacting law enforcement directly. Both are fine, but with the number of complaints that we’re seeing, it’s really important to have solid, timely record keeping, particularly in those cases where we believe something has occurred, but don’t have sufficient evidence to file criminal charges,” Bryan said. “Also, a periodic security assessment of each school is vital for ensuring that our students and staff have the safest environment possible.”

The department will also launch a school safety committee, comprised of teachers, parents, Youth Services staff and members from the District Attorney’s office. The group will meet quarterly to address specific concerns from the community and identify new safety initiatives.

“School resource officers already play a vital role in all of our schools, and these new measures will only enhance that,” Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright said. “The reality is there are limits on what our school administrators are capable of investigating. That’s why it’s so important that law enforcement be directly involved whenever there’s even a suspicion that a student could pose a serious threat.”

“The Lebanon Special School District truly appreciates the partnership with the sheriff’s office and the proactive involvement of the SROs,” Lebanon Director of Schools Scott Benson said. “The forward thinking of Sheriff Bryan and his staff to involve the schools and the community through the reporting system and safety committee is another tool we can all utilize in providing a safer culture for our students.”

To report a threat or suspicious activity, you can go to wcso95.org/schooltip, which will be sent directly to law enforcement. Filling out the form is considered an official report to law enforcement, therefore any intentional false information reported will be considered a violation of state law and may result in being charged with a crime.

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