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Henderson County Deputies Lunching In Schools

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

HENDERSON, Tenn.- In light of the deadly elementary school shooting in Connecticut last month, schools across West Tennessee have tried to step up security within their buildings but Henderson County Sheriff's Department officials said they have found a way to put deputies in their schools without it costing anything extra.

Even though their resources are thin, there are nine schools within Henderson County that deputies said they will protect. Henderson County Sheriff Brian Duke told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that he is encouraging his deputies to increase their presence by eating lunch in the cafeteria with the kids.

"I want to do everything that we can possible can to ensure we've done our part," said Sheriff Duke.

Sheriff's Deputy Brian Vineyard said he does not mind spending his lunch break with the school children. He has been with the sheriff's department for 4 years and said protecting the children is one of his most important duties.

"The kids love it. The smiles on their faces, it's amazing. It's an amazing feeling," said Deputy Vineyard. " Building relationships with these kids will be one of the most important things that comes out of it that and protecting this school. "

Sheriff Duke said deputies will also be increasing their patrols and walking through hallways when they are patrolling near a school and not responding to a call. So far, Duke said his deputies have loved the change in atmosphere.

"It's a good break from what they normally deal with everyday," said Sheriff Duke.

Deputies said eating with the children is just another they can protect and serve. The lines are long but deputy Vineyard said he does not mind waiting.

"It's fun eating with the kids, I had chicken nuggets, some beans, applesauce, oranges and a roll," said Deputy Vineyard. " It was pretty good, I liked it. I ain't going to lie."

Two of the nine schools in Henderson county have a school resource officer. Sheriff Duke said having school resource officers in every school is a goal they would like to achieve in the future.

Right now, deputies will either bring their own lunch or pay for the school lunch out of pocket. Duke said this is a collaborative effort to making sure the children in Henderson County stay safe.