Working The Four Square Deal On SRO’s

Let’s cut through the smoke and mirrors about the Knoxville Police Withdrawal from the School Resource Officer program (SRO’s). And, apparently…there is a big misconception concerning both money, how some school police problems will be handled, and that effect on policing in the community.

First, look at the money. I am not sure of the exact sum, but back when I was working in news, the Knoxville Police Department’s budget allowed well more than $10 million dollars a year to the SRO program. Let’s be conservative about the cost now, and leave it at 10-12 million dollars a year. When Knoxville Police pulls officers from schools, that city money won’t be ‘gifted’ to the Sheriffs Department.

If I had to guess, the money will probably be diverted into social programs within the community in some kind of non-police department effort.
So Knoxville Police Officers currently working as SRO’s will be absorbed into the streets on patrol. That looks good on paper, much like wetting your pants in a blue suit gives you a warm feeling.

Here’s why:
*City police officers will be on patrol, but-

*Since there will be no city officers inside city schools, some kind of law enforcement will have to take calls for service inside the schools.
*That means calls that routinely happen in schools, such as thefts, altercations, suspicious persons, domestic incidents…. all calls for service.. will have to be answered by an officer on the beat.
*So, officers will be added to patrol, to take care of the exact same problems SRO’s were utilized in the school in the first place.

Have you ever heard of the “four square” method of selling you a car? The sales person effectively makes a chart of -four squares: One is the down payment, the second is the trade-in allowance, third is the price of the car, and the fourth square is the cash invested. When you change the amount inside one square… it automatically changes the amount in another.
The City Of Knoxville is apparently getting the old “four square” treatment, and a warm feeling.

I believe the net result will be a reduction in response time to the rest of the city, while beat patrol officers are answering calls that were once handled by SRO’s.
Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler says his deputies will continue to serve as SRO’s in schools. Move another square on the deal sheet, if deputies are re-assigned to city schools.

And my cynical self ads another square on the deal sheet, and that is political currency. Like just about any other news story like this… follow the money, and ask who stands to gain.

I hope I have illustrated how the removal of city SRO’s will create a sum of money to be used in other places. One of the hackneyed words in news and public relations is “stakeholders”…. and I refuse to use it. Instead, look at the dollars, and see what the mayor’s administration will propose to replace the school resource officers.
Note if any political allies might want to propel the decision on city SRO’s in order to possibly win some money for themselves. That will “bear watching” as the city approaches a new fiscal year.

Get to the right square on that deal sheet…see where the money goes, and ask questions about who -really- benefits.

Your comments and criticisms are welcome, my friends.

Look at who stands to gain in service, money, effective law enforcement, and, sadly but again cynically, political currency.

I hope this isn’t a sunshine blowing expedition to make citizens feel good while they get nothing for something.


It’s nearly midnight, and I have been reading some of the comments on the SRO piece. Again, it’s only my opinion. I am relying what I know for sure… Folks…. follow the money.
My memory was jogged tonight, that I wrote a story about how an upper East Tennessee law enforcement agency had received a federal grant to start SRO’s,but after a period of time, the federal money dries up and the department is supposed to support the program on its own.
I’ll try to do some more research on SRO’s.
I believe this is a vital service. I know schools have sworn, armed security guards, but resource officers, I believe, have an opportunity to be proactive in the school, and make a difference… possibly be a change agent in some kids’ lives, and at least, let them see a law enforcement officer in a different setting other than when they are answering a call for service, or arresting someone.
And when seconds count…a patrol officer could be minutes away. And that is an equation nobody should want.
Now… I’ll Osteo-Biflex myself on to bed. !!!


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