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Tennessee teacher body cameras, emergency buttons eligible for safety grants

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(The Center Square) – Tennessee schools can buy emergency body cameras and call buttons for schoolteachers through school safety grants.

Tennessee Sen Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, had sponsored a bill that would provide $300 to fund lanyards with an emergency button that will send an alert and also begin video and audio recording if a teacher is in a dangerous situation due to student behavior.

Rather than passing the bill and approving the funding separately, the Tennessee Department of Education approved allowing the technology to be eligible for purchase using school safety grant funds.

The department plans to notify districts about the eligibility, Pody said.

“This technology has the potential to save lives, and I am so grateful to the Department of Education for streamlining the process of approving the technology for school safety grant funding,” Pody in a statement. “It will improve the response time of law enforcement and EMS to immediate classroom threats such as discipline issues, medical emergencies or active shooters. It will be like having a Ring doorbell on teachers’ lanyards that alerts the appropriate personnel. When teachers press that button, they know help is coming.”

The bill would have capped spending on the devices at $50,000 in funding for each school.

Lawmakers approved over $230 million in the budget last legislative session to place a school resource officer at every Tennessee public school, boost physical security at public and private schools, and provide additional mental health resources for Tennesseans.