Grundy County High School resource officer now must get permission to retrieve security camera footage

Grundy County High School resource officer now must get permission to retrieve security camera footage

November 22nd, 2017 by Rosana Hughes in Local Regional News

The Grundy County High School sign is shown in this 2011 staff file photo.

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

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Amid reports and investigations of an attempted aggravated rape at Grundy County High School and the vandalism of a school board member's vehicle, the school's resource officer no longer has access to retrieve security camera footage without permission from the principal.

Jessie Kinsey, director of schools for Grundy County, said the monitors were moved from the resource officer's office to the principal's office for two hours but were later put back.

"Instead, we are purchasing additional [monitors] for the principal's office," Kinsey said in an email.

She said the monitors were initially moved because the resource officer's office is the only place where monitors are located, but the resource officer is not always at the high school, as he is contracted to work at all seven of the county's schools. So when something happens and the principal would need to review footage, she would have to go to the resource officer's office.

Sheriff Clint Shrum said the resource officer is regularly assigned to the high school, but does cover incidents at other schools when needed.

On Tuesday, Kinsey said the resource officer has "full access to view the cameras" and can view the footage in real time. However, if the resource officer wants to download or rewind footage, he must ask the principal to do so.

Shrum said the resource officer has never had to ask the principal to retrieve footage before this incident. He and Kinsey will be meeting on Nov. 28 to discuss the change in the resource officer's access to the monitors.

"All of this nonsense could have been easily avoided if there had been communication before the surveillance system had been altered," Shrum said in a text message.

The move, which came days after a school board member's truck was vandalized, raised concerns among community members on Facebook late Friday night and into Saturday.

After a Nov. 13 workshop meeting to discuss what was going on with the money and funding to hire a new football coach, Chris Grooms found his truck's headlights had been spray-painted black, the word "rapist" had been spray-painted on the passenger-side door and cooking oil had been poured into his gas tank.

That meeting was called after Grooms brought up evidence suggesting the school's football money from game tickets, concessions and a T-shirt stand may not have been handled properly.

No suspect was listed in the vandalism report, but the resource officer was said to be looking through the high school's surveillance footage to see if authorities could identify a suspect. Four days later, his access to retrieve footage without permission was revoked.

Grooms is a member of the oversight committee appointed to ensure investigative transparency as the system looks into an incident involving five Grundy County High School students recently charged with attempted aggravated rape.

Those students are accused of attempting to rape a 15-year-old teammate with the metal handle of a dust mop in the school's football fieldhouse sometime before 6 a.m. CDT on Oct. 11.

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at rhughes@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @Hughesrosana.


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