Ten new officers graduate KCS School Security

By Ken Leinart

Now they have a stake, a shared responsibility, in the future of Knox County.

Ten candidates were presented their graduation certificates from the Knox County Schools (KCS) Security Division Friday night, Dec. 1, during a ceremony at South-Doyle Middle School.

That shared stake was highlighted by those who spoke during the ceremony.

Knox County Schools Superintendent Jon Ryweyk said he knew it was an “extra” part of the security team’s job. That becoming a part of shaping young people’s attitudes was “not in the job description.

“But it is something I have witnessed with the Knox County School’s security team,” he said. “Our security officers do play such an important role in the education experience for our students.”

Rysewyk said the Knox County Board of Education made a $9 million investment in the system’s security division in the last budget cycle.

He said a lot of that was for physical security measures such as perimeter fencing and upgrading some school security windows.

But, he added, it also included a 12% raise for the system’s security officers. He said that showed a commitment to not only recruit the “best folks but also to retain the officers they have.

“Because of that kind of investment we’re seeing that’s a possibility,” Rysewyk said.

The superintendent told the graduating class, “This may be the most important job you’ll ever have but we take it very seriously. We are raising the next generation. The future of Knoxville depends on what we do in our school system. The kids that walk our halls are the future leaders of this community.”

He said he appreciated those who used their “gifts and talents” to help invest in the schools and students.

Rywesyk said there are three relationships that security officers must have and maintain: administration, students and other security entities.

Rysewyk said security teams work “hand in glove” with school administrations in every aspect. He said security officers are highly trained in every protocol and procedure, as are administrators.

On students: “I think this one is very valuable in education, especially now,” Rysewyk said. “You may be the only the only relationship some of our students have with law enforcement officers.”

He said he has seen their interaction with school staff and students. He said the students “really feel comfortable talking” with them. “That’s such an important part of the future of our society to know there’s a trust level in our folks who wear the badge and are there to protect them,” Rysewik said.

Rysewyk said that at all of the system’s schools, there were either Knox County Sheriff’s Office personnel or Knoxville Police Department officers on site.

“The sharing of intelligence, the sharing of tips, the sharing of strategies is critically important,” he said.

Knox County School System Security Chief Jason Periard said KCS started with a lofty goal “ a little over two years ago,” in raising a security team. With Friday night’s graduation ceremony, the system achieved a 100% staffing goal.

While acknowledging the work of the KCS Security Team staff, the KCS Board of Education and KCS leadership, he also acknowledged those receiving their certificates.

He said that the 10 graduates represent 20% of those who began the eight-week training process.

“Today you join not an organization. You join a family,” Periard said. “We are a family.

“We are a rare breed who choose service and sacrifice over self.”

State Senator Becky Duncan Massey (6th Senatorial District) was the keynote speaker for the graduation.

Past recipient of the Russell B. Kocur Jr. Award, Scott Sutton, presented the 2023-02 Class Award to Richard McNutt, who also served as the 2023-02 Class President.

The new officers who received their certificates Friday night are Johnathan Dyer, Jim Graber, Hunter Hunley, Patrick Leach, Ricard McNutt (class president), Matthew Mugan, Steven Sobel (class vice president), LaAnn Soloman, Jeff White and Cameron Talmage.