A principal’s concern about home visits to potentially disgruntled parents had the Bradley County Law Enforcement committee discussing possibilities Tuesday.
Hopewell Elementary Principal Tim Riggs said he would like to have the option of taking the school’s resource officer with him on visits to homes where it is obvious he will not be welcome.
“When I need to make a house call to parents who I don’t know well, I would like that opportunity for the SRO to go with me,” Riggs said. “The SRO knows the family, most often. I’ve heard the argument, ‘Just call a street officer’ ... they don’t know our families.”
Riggs said he did not have any problems with the SROs.
“As far as the program itself, I feel very blessed,” Riggs said.
Committee member Terry Caywood brought the issue to the committee’s attention for something to be worked out for school principals in this situation. Caywood said he had talked to Riggs and wanted the request to come to the committee.
School resource officers are required to stay at their assigned school as much as possible to ensure the safety of students. The only time on-duty SROs are not at the school is when they are in court. Sheriff Jim Ruth said this happens infrequently. Riggs commented that SROs operate under strict guidelines. Riggs said he would like the officers to have the option to leave the school during their lunch break.
Sometimes SROs are called on to testify in court about an incident to which they responded. When possible, the department shifts people from other areas to stay at the school.
Ruth said SROs do not even leave the school for training during the school year. Any additional required training is completed during the summer.
Committee member Jeff Yarber said the Sheriff’s Office might be able to plan something with a patrol officer in the neighborhood to go with a principal.
“I intend to keep the SRO in the school,” Ruth said.
Ruth said he felt the request could have been worked out without going to the committee.
Committee member Charlotte Peak-Jones and chairman Brian Smith said they were sure Bradley County Sheriff’s Office Capt. W.G. Campbell and the principals could work something out.
“It is a whole lot easier if you plan it for the next day or two, rather than in 15 minutes,” Campbell said.
Campbell said something could be worked out to help the principals when needed. Planning will be the key.
Yarber said scheduling may become challenging if every principal requests an officer for the same day.
Riggs said not all principals visit students’ homes when there are issues. A visit to a child’s home would most likely be after a truancy issue where the parent could not be contacted by other means.