MOUNT CARMEL — Mayor Larry Frost assured a group of concerned citizens Tuesday that there will continue to be a police presence at Mount Carmel Elementary School in the mornings and afternoons and occasionally throughout the day, despite rumors to the contrary.
But Police Chief Mike Campbell, who has been the Mount Carmel Police Department’s main presence at the school for the past 15 years, won’t be able to continue that duty on a daily basis.
Frost told the group at the end of Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting that since Campbell was appointed chief in January, his additional responsibilities make it impossible for him to cover the schools every day.
The group, which included some parents, told the BMA they had heard rumors that city police officers were to be pulled off of school patrol.
“I don’t know how that (rumor) got started,” Frost said. “That’s not true. We will always, as a city, protect that school, especially the traffic in the morning and the traffic in the evening (as school dismisses).”
Mount Carmel Elementary School is one of four schools in the Hawkins County system that isn’t funded to receive either a full-time or a part-time school resource officer (SRO) in the proposed 2013-14 county budget.
Those four schools were chosen due to their proximity to municipal police officers.
The Hawkins County Board of Education and the Budget Committee of the County Commission have each said they will work to find funds to place an SRO in the four remaining schools next year.
Members of the group told the BMA that Campbell has been an excellent school patrol officer for the past 15 years and that he has a personal relationship with students.
The students “adore” Campbell and look for him when they come to school, one parent told the BMA.
“Chief Campbell will be up there sometimes, but his primary job is to this city,” Frost said. “There will always be officer close at hand here. We’re right below the school.”
Frost added, “We will always have officers at that school. It might not be Mike Campbell. It can’t be the chief up there every day. He has many hats he wears. I’d like to say, ‘Mike, go up there and stay at the school eight hours a day,’ but I can’t do that.”
In other business Tuesday the BMA:
•Approved the first reading of an ordinance amending the personnel policy to state that city employees who are required to have a driver’s license as part of their job must report to the city immediately if their license is suspended or revoked. Vice Mayor Paul Hale said the city’s insurance provider suggested the new wording to protect the city.
•Approved the first reading of the $500,000 budget ordinance to cover the road paving projects that were approved by the BMA at the July meeting.
•Agreed to participate in the Tennessee Municipal League Risk Management Pool “Driver Safety” loss control matching grant, which will pay the city up to $8,000 with a required 50 percent match. The funds are available to all city departments to provide a safe and hazard-free workplace.
•Approved the fire department membership applications of Mike Darter and David Dean.