Yennie envisions full-time security position for Sullivan schools

Rick Wagner • Feb 1, 2013 at 12:06 PM

BLUFF CITY — The head of Sullivan County’s school system plans to propose hiring a new full-time school security position for the school system, in addition to any existing or added school resource officers.

Director of Schools Jubal Yennie said the full-time security position would make sure school system employees are trained in security, as well as act as a liaison with the sheriff’s office.

Yennie said training school employees in behavioral threat analysis would be implemented by the full-time security person.

For instance, he said teachers, cafeteria workers, janitors and others likely will get the same kind of training as police officers who learn how to instinctively look for signs someone is carrying a weapon.

Yennie said the idea is rooted in two things he said he learned at this week’s Tennessee School Safety Summit Tuesday in Franklin. Systems nationwide are looking at school security in the wake of the murders of 26 people Dec. 14 by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

“Public schools are very safe places,” Yennie said. “(And) SROs (school resource officers) are a resource. They are not the only resource.”

The Board of Education Jan. 7 went on record favoring a school resource officer in all 20 school facilities in the system, not just the four high schools.

Yennie, speaking at a BOE work session Thursday night at Sullivan East High School, also gave the school board an update on the school security task force he recently appointed,

In addition, Yennie said he is to meet today with Don Reimer, manager of the Shooters Edge firing range in Piney Flats. Reimer has proposed the business help train volunteer “school marshals,” employees of the school system, although that is a general idea that Yennie, Sheriff Wayne Anderson and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam do not embrace.

Yennie said having new plans specific to an active shooter in a school building is not necessarily a main game plan, although he said mandatory active shooter drills soon will join the mandatory fire drills and lockdown drills in Tennessee schools.

He said one of the speakers at the statewide summit, a man in charge of school security in New York City, said that system does not have a specific plan for another Sept. 11, 2001-type terrorist attack more than 11 years after the fact.

“There are a whole bunch of events you can’t even dream of,” Yennie said. But he said previous fire drills in a school a few blocks away from ground zero of the Twin Towers helped get the students out of that building safely.

In addition, Yennie said comprehensive security and emergency planning among all emergency agencies is a must. Yennie, school system safety supervisor Evelyn Rafalowski, Sheriff Wayne Anderson and Chief Deputy Lisa Christian attended the summit.

Yennie said another issue is finding a way for school and law enforcement to get information from people who know or suspect an incident may be about to occur.

As for the task force, Yennie said he plans to have some of its members hold public panel discussions on best practices at community meetings and then get input from the public. All told, Yennie said he hopes to have security plan changes, or at least proposals, in 30 to 45 days.

BOE member Robyn Ivester suggested all SROs in Sullivan County park their deputy vehicles in front of the school buildings, and fellow member Todd Broughton said that the appearance of those or constable vehicles would act as a shooter deterrent. He suggested the school system see if constables could become more active in schools.

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