An incident at Science Hill High School this week once again demonstrated the importance of having school resource officers on campus. As Press staff writer Becky Campbell reported in Wednesday’s paper, two city schools went on lockdown and a Science Hill High School senior was arrested after authorities discovered a loaded .22 handgun inside his trench coat.
Benjamin Schon Neis-Eldridge, 18, 304 Shenandoah Drive, was pulled from class Tuesday after Johnson City Police School Resource Officers Tony Ward and Bud Williams were told the teen looked suspicious in the buttoned-up coat.
School resource officers are often the first and only line of defense when it comes to dealing with danger on campus. That was certainly the case last year when Sullivan Central High School’s resource officer stood between the school’s principal and a man who entered the school waving a handgun. That same resource officer, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Deputy Carolyn Gudger, also helped the principal escape to safety before other responding deputies shot and killed 62-year-old Richard Cowan of Kingsport.
Law enforcement officials say Gudger was instrumental in keeping Cowan confined to one area of the school and defusing what could have been a potentially dangerous situation for students and teachers.
Time and time again, school resource officers have professionally handled potentially dangerous situations in local schools. One such case occurred back in 2006 when an alert school resource officer disarmed a 17-year-old student who had brought a handgun to David Crockett High School.
Whether they are walking the hallways of the local high school or riding a county school bus, these resource officers are helping to keep our children safe. It’s often tempting during tough budget times for elected officials to consider cutting these positions. That would be a mistake.
Tuesday’s incident at Science Hill best demonstrates why school resource officers are tax dollars well spent.