HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (WZTV) — Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) refuses to put armed security in any elementary school. This at a time when school districts across the country are doing the opposite.
The new employee at Indian Hills elementary school has more than a little gray. That’s because Mark Reid has been in law enforcement for more than 30 years. He is now the eyes and ears and protector of every soul in the building.
“I’ve been doing it long enough to almost see things before it happens. You know, I can tell when something’s getting ready to be bad. So it’s a big benefit. I guess for being an older officer in a school.”
SRO Reid is Christian County’s commitment to school safety.
Indian hills principal Sara Johnson already considers him indispensable.
“I don’t want to do this job without him. I’ll tell you that. He brings us peace and not that he can fix and do everything. But knowing that he’s here and can handle situations that come up like that. It gives this principal peace of mind. It really does,” said Johnson.
The uniform Reid wears is hardly a typical law enforcement attire. It’s intentional and custom-designed for elementary school.
“We wear a super soft uniform, really when we’re in schools on purpose. My shirt looks exactly like the rest of me is just a soft uniform. I really don’t have a big gun belt on. Don’t have handcuffs show,” said deputy Reid.
FOX 17 News spent a day following Deputy Reid around campus. It was eye-opening. He is a popular person here–and fits like a glove.
“They love officer Reid,” said Johnson. “Any day during lunchtime, you can see him in there. Some days he’ll take napkins and make flowers out of them and put them behind his ear or make stuff for them. He’s about building relationships. And he’ll tell you, he doesn’t want the kids to see him as something bad or he’s out to get them. He’s not. He's there to build relationships, be there for him, and help anyway that he can.”
Remember, this is the situation Metro Nashville Public Schools has completely rejected.
Schools director Adrian Battle thinks that having an officer Reid in an elementary school is actually bad for the kids. Ask them about SROs and they refer you to her only public comment on the subject.
“We don’t want to criminalize children’s behavior,” said Battle in August.
That is not an accurate depiction of what SRO Reid does in his elementary school.
“There's never any situation where they see me as a negative role model,” Deputy Reid said. ”I don’t do discipline. I don’t tell them to take their hoods off their heads. That’s not what I’m here for. I’m here strictly to make sure they’re safe.”
And take a look at that for a second, every door checked every hour, cameras checked constantly, a car outside is highly visible. What calculated shooter would test Indian Hills?
“They’re going to go to a softer target than this,” said Reid. “Because I like to think this is a pretty hard target even though I’ve got a bunch of doors. It’s a hard target because you’re here. Yes. If you come in here this school is small enough that I’ll know immediately because I’m either watching you or I’m walking, and I can hear everything in these halls.”
In the aftermath of the Covenant shootings, FOX 17 News asked MNPS again: Are you going to put armed security in elementary schools?
“We do not have any immediate changes to our safety protocols at this time. We are continuing to work closely with the Metro Nashville Police Department, which runs the SRO program for MNPS, to review our plans and protocols. If there are any recommended changes or updates, we will coordinate that with the Board and appropriate stakeholders and communicate that out to families, staff, and stakeholders alike.”
FOX 17 News will continue to pursue this story as more and more stakeholders demand SROs in Nashville public schools.
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