School board green-lights "security" force feasibility study

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Memphis City School board green-lighted a feasibility study Monday to determine what it would take for the district to establish its own security force.

Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash said the idea to replace Memphis Police with in-house security came long before him - two administrations ago, to be exact. Still, he believes schools should be in charge of their own security.

School Board Commissioners approved a resolution Monday requesting that Cash conduct a school security feasibility study to look at the cost and impact of phasing out Memphis Police on school campuses and replacing them with school security officers.

"Going with a reduced force is perhaps less costly because they're newer officers and don't have all the labor issues associated with the MPD," Cash said.

He originally proposed to establish a school peace force, but state law doesn't allow school security to arrest and transport offenders.  Now, the school system is looking to establish and security force instead of a peace force that would replace Memphis Police officers currently patrolling school campuses.

Under Monday's resolution, Memphis Police would still arrest and transport offenders, and security officers would discipline on campus.

School Board President Martavius Jones said the district is not trying to find a way around current laws.

"If this was an effort to circumvent the law," Jones said, "we've been doing it for 20-plus years, so it's not an effort to do that."

Jones says an internal security force does not eliminate checks and balances and says the increase in reporting of incidents on school campuses proves his point.

"I think you have administrators who are probably scared considering they can face criminal prosecution if they're not enforcing these things."

The district has 94 officers. 38 of them are Memphis police officers. Administrators say hiring internal security would help put 38 more officers on the streets.

Superintendent Cash promised, "We'll make it a win-win at the end of the day.  I can assure the community that."

Meanwhile, a bill is in the Tennessee State Legislature to give MCS security officers the power to arrest and transport offenders.

The feasibility study, which will be done in house and won't cost anything, should be complete by March 30th.

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