Carroll: Volunteer constables providing security on school campuses

Published 4:30 pm Friday, August 19, 2022

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Elizabethton Star
Bob Carroll has been a constable in Carter County for more than 40 years, but he’s never volunteered to work on a school campus until this fall.
Carroll and nearly a dozen other constables have formed a volunteer network to provide security patrols to Carter County school campuses without full-time school resource officers.
“When the Sheriff (Dexter Lunceford) determined he didn’t have enough School Resource Officers to be in all the schools, he decided to put the four he had in the high schools,” Carroll said. “That left all the elementary and middle schools in Carter County without an officer …
“We (constables) got together and talked about it and said ‘we can’t have this,’ so we decided to volunteer as outside security.”
In a matter of about 48 hours, Carroll said the constables worked with Commissioner Julie Guinn and director of schools Dr. Brandon Carpenter to put together the plan.
The constables — all of whom are retired from other careers — provide a visible security presence on the campuses, patrolling entries and parking areas during the school day. “We get there about 6:30 a.m. and stay until the last bus leaves, about 3:30 p.m.,” Carroll said.
The constables are licensed law enforcement personnel and are armed, Carroll said. They do not seek to provide security inside the school buildings but instead are focused on providing outside security and preventing unauthorized people from entering the campuses.
“The first day we were there, the principals and teachers could not thank us enough, because they felt so much safer,” Carroll said. “It’s been a tremendous response from parents, grandparents, teachers …”
While the positive feedback is encouraging, Carroll said the volunteer constables are motivated by their desire to serve the citizens of Carter County — particularly its children.
“They deserve to have a learning experience and they deserve to have the feeling of being safe while they’re there,” he said.
Lunceford’s last day in office is Aug. 31, and Sheriff-elect Mike Fraley takes office Sept. 1. Carroll said the constables will continue to provide the volunteer security through the transition.
“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing now until the sheriff gets people hired to replace us,” he said.

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