Wharton Wants MPD to Guard Schools When They Merge

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(Memphis) There seems to be controversy over who will be protecting your children once unified schools open in August.

The county commission is spending millions to train new guards for that purpose, but the Mayor says he wants officers at the schools to stay where they are.

When the city voted to merge with county schools the county commission and Shelby County Sheriff’s office became in charge of every aspect of schools including security.

The county commission has approved millions for deputies to be placed in schools, but Mayor A C Wharton says if Memphis Police officers are pulled out of the school it would hurt the intelligence they get in fighting crime.

Memphis Police call it community policing when they have officers at the ground level who know what’s going on neighborhood by neighborhood in the fight against crime.

“What happens in school at 11:30 in the cafeteria boils over into the streets at 3:30,” said Wharton.

Mayor A C Wharton says some of MPD’s biggest informants are actually children and officers learn the most about what’s going on in the city from students in the schools, “I would prefer to keep our city police officers in the city schools because it fits well with our community oriented policing."

The problem is there are no more city schools.

They’re all county schools and county commissioners have approved over two million dollars to hire new school guards.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s officer says some deputies have already been hired and are training work in the unified schools starting next year.

“I don’t think we can guess about that I think we need to know,” said Shelby County Commissioner Sidney Chism.

He says the county can’t take any chances, and they have to plan for guards.

“I think the sheriff can do an adequate job.  If he has to provide officers for the school system in any fashion I think he can do an adequate job,” said Chism.

Chism says it will ultimately be up to the sheriff to decide if he wants to let MPD officers stay on, but if he makes that discussion Chism says the county will need its money back.

“I need an iron clad agreement.  I don’t want today them to be alright with the city officers doing that, and then tomorrow they change their mind,” said Chism.

Chism says it’s his understanding the county and city are in negotiations right now that could possibly leave the MPD officers at schools currently ran by the city if the sheriff approves it.