AC Sheriff Russell Barker On Police In Schools

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, STATEMENT FROM ANDERSON COUNTY SHERIFF RUSSELL BARKER – After hearing the news yesterday that Knoxville Mayor, Indya Kincannon, has withdrawn from the agreement to provide police for schools, I began reflecting on how fortunate we are in Anderson County. First, the decision to remove law enforcement from the schools is beyond comprehension. The safety of our educators and students should never be the scapegoat for the political posturing we witnessed yesterday. We are talking about our most vulnerable members of society and such amazing educators falling prey to politics. Differences of opinions will always exist, but never did I think it would jeopardize the safety of a school system.

That brings me to Anderson County. We are blessed beyond measure. Anderson County is full of leaders, both county and municipal, who value the safety of our schools. Additionally, the leaders of the Anderson County Schools, Clinton City Schools, and Oak Ridge City Schools have proven year after year that school safety is their top priority. Are there differences of opinions? I’m sure. But we all share the same vision when it comes to protecting our students and educators. Since September 2018, my administration has worked hand-in-hand with our school leaders, Board of Education, County Mayor, and County Legislative Body to provide better safety for our students and teachers. As a result of this work, our School Resource Officer unit has grown from 9 to 15. Since 2018, the County Commission and the state of Tennessee has awarded funds to us and the schools to add 6 SRO’s which took us to 15. This was made possible because of a shared vision amongst all of us to make our schools safe. I would be remiss to not mention the amazing work the late Joe Forgety did to make our schools safe. He was a fierce champion for protecting
everyone in the county.

I am disappointed in Mayor Kincannon’s decision to put politics over safety. For the sake of those involved, I pray that she changes her mind. For Anderson County, rest assured that the health, safety, and welfare of our students and teachers will always be a top priority. Our office is 100% committed to protecting our schools and will never let politics or opinions get in the way of that. It is an honor to serve the people of this great County.

Russell Barker

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