East High Rape Allegation Puts Spotlight On School Security

(Memphis) There was a time when every high school in Memphis, like East High School, had a specific police officer assigned to that school, walking the hallways.

When an 18-year-old said she was raped in the stairwell at East High on Wednesday,  no police officer or sheriff’s deputy was around.

Two Shelby County School Security officers are assigned to East High. No Memphis Police officer or Sheriff’s Deputy is assigned to the school.

“I feel like they should have more security and more police security inside the school for the kids. Maybe if police were there, this wouldn’t have happened,” said Ada Dowell of Frayser.

Under the new security plan, Shelby County deputies are only at certain city schools that already have Memphis Police assigned to them.

East isn’t one of them, and neither is Carver High, Frayser, Kirby or Sheffield High. They’re under the sole guard of Shelby County School Security.

The school system won’t discuss where the two officers assigned to East were at the time of the alleged rape, but say “the officers are familiar with the school community, having worked there for several years and through the transition.”

School board member Kenneth Whalum predicts school security will be the next big problem, especially when positions are being cut.

“Custodians, cafeteria workers, guidance counselors all those persons are not police officers, but they are certainly watchful eyes over the students,” said Whalum.

He says educators are going to have to address the personnel shortages in a system that may have taken on more than it was ready for.

The final decisions on how school security will be handled between local law enforcement and the school district’s own force is still being worked out.

The 16-year-old suspect from East High has been charged with aggravated rape.

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