Hamilton County Schools to invest $950,000 to put security officers in every school

Hamilton County Schools is investing $950,000, and hopes for an additional $1 million from the Hamilton County Commission, to put security officers in every school building.

The Board of Education voted to approve the plan during its meeting Thursday.

The district will appropriate $950,000 for the initial hiring and training of new security officers. It will then petition the Hamilton County Commission to appropriate $1 million from its fund balance for the hiring and retaining of additional security officers for the 2022-23 school year.

In the following years, the district will appropriate a recurring $1.8 million from its general fund.

The proposal passed 7-0 Thursday night with school board members Tucker McClendon, of East Ridge, and Jenny Hill, of North Chattanooga, absent.

"I think this is a no-brainer," school board member James Walker, of Birchwood, said. "We need that resource, that support. I can get behind it 100%, and I guarantee the community is behind it."

Once hiring is complete, the district will have 45 security officers and 76 school resource officers and security officers combined, Jim Corbin said, student security coordinator for Hamilton County Schools.

A school security officer differs from a school resource officer in that they are not actively employed by law enforcement.

"Most of my people are retired law enforcement officers," Corbin said, adding that it makes it easier to hire from a recruitment standpoint.

Just like school resource officers, security officers are armed. But one difference is they are not legally allowed to make arrests, Cobrin said. However, they may detain and use force.

Over the past few years, the district has been updating its security measures, including an investment of about $5 million to re-engineer school entrances.

Hiring and recruitment will begin immediately, district officials said Thursday.

Contact Carmen Nesbitt at cnesbitt@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @carmen_nesbitt.