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New SROs reporting for duty

Johnson County Schools’ newest protectors are presented by Deputy Mark Gladden at the Johnson County School Board October meeting. These Security Resource Officers (SROs) will be stationed at every school in the county. Photo by Meg Dickens.

By Meg Dickens

Johnson County Schools received the School Resource Officer (SRO) grant on August 9, 2019. Johnson County provided a 25 percent local match on the grant. Funds for this match come from the Sheriff’s Department, which provides uniforms, patrol vehicles, and other necessary equipment for these deputies. Sheriff Tester and Deputy Mark Gladden were proud to introduce the new officers at the October school board meeting.

“This is a really important program,” said Chairman Howard Carlton. “We will have an SRO in every school in Johnson County.”

Codty Newman is Roan Creek Elementary School’s new officer, while Robert Norris will care for those at Doe Elementary.Justin Arnold joins the team as Laurel Elementary School’s new officer, and Tamara Bare will protect Mountain City Elementary. Chris Lipford is Shady Valley Elementary School’s new deputy.Michael Murphy and Mark Gladden are deputies at Johnson County Middle School and Johnson County High School, respectively.

SROs are becoming more prevalent. In 2018 the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) trained approximately 2,200 officers. As of this September, the organization has trained more than 2,500 officers.According to the SRO grant documentation, “SROs are duly sworn and authorized law enforcement officers assigned to a school setting.” By law, SROs must receive 40 hours of specialized training during their first year of duty and an additional 16 hours annually. Active shooter training is an important part of SRO training.

“We thank Sheriff Tester for all the support he’s given us,” said Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox. “We are always looking for ways to provide the safest environment for our students and staff.“

Find out more about the Johnson County School Board and its meeting schedule at The board will have two meetings in November. One will be on November 4 to discuss the current status of former transportation director, Barry Bishop. The board’s regular meeting has been rescheduled to November 7 because of a TSBA meeting.