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FOCUSED ON SAFETY, STUDENTS

February 13, 2019

 

By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT

Rutherford County Schools

 

Ensuring students have safe and secure learning environments has been a priority of Director of Schools Bill Spurlock since taking the job last July.

 

To that end, he has recently expanded the Safe Schools Administrator position into a full-time role and hired long-time school law enforcement veteran David Crim.

 

After 21 years with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office — most of which was spent as a School Resource Officer — Crim recently retired from law enforcement to take the school district’s newly expanded position.

 

“It’s simple,” Crim said. “Students can’t learn if they don’t feel safe or if they, in fact, are not safe.”

 

During his most recent stint at Oakland High School — where he worked since 2010 — Crim was promoted to sergeant. He was also part of multiple committees and led the safety team, which oversaw safety drills at all Rutherford County schools.

 

It was a good segue when he decided to leave the Sheriff’s Office and take a position with RCS.

 

Because of Crim’s history with law enforcement, he will be able to communicate and work in close collaboration with the Sheriff’s Office “for the safety of everyone” as Spurlock tasks Crim with redefining the role of School Safety Administrator.

 

Crim will not only be onsite in the event of an occurrence to work alongside school administrators and help through the process — as he was when Siegel recently experienced a natural gas leak near the school — but he will take a visible proactive role as the district continues to enhance safety measures.

 

Crim will work with all 47 principals — soon to be 49 when two new schools open in August — to identify needs specific to each facility. The focus will be on individualized solutions to complex problems, Crim said.

 

“I’m going to be in schools,” Crim said. “I’m going to be looking at what I can do to help principals or an assistant principal. I’m going to be listening to teachers. I may listen to parents and see what we can do for each school.”

 

He added, “I need honest, open opinions of what we have and we don’t have, what they need and I will bring that back and compile. … My thing is to help assist and suggest ideas that are based on my knowledge.”

 

With safety procedures, Crim will represent the district and serve as a direct liaison to Director Spurlock.

 

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Crim was born and raised in Tampa, Florida.

 

He attended the University of Florida for two years before transferring to and graduating from the University of South Florida.

 

After graduation, in 1982, he took a job with Whirlpool Financial Corp.

 

After seven years in Tampa, in 1989, he moved to London for three years, where he worked as a European credit manager responsible for accounts in 17 countries. He then spent a couple years working on a project in Rutherford County.

 

During that time, he met his future wife, Murfreesboro native Candy Eaton, but not before being transferred all over the world.

 

In 1994, he was transferred to Argentina for a year. He returned to the States, married Eaton and this is where, according to Crim, his story gets “kind of weird.”

 

“My official location for work was in Michigan,” he explained, “but I was in India for a year. She stayed (in Murfreesboro) because I got over there, and I didn’t want her to go. It was a really dodgy place to live. You had to have a lot of support to live there and we didn’t have that.”

 

Eventually they found themselves in China and then Hong Kong before returning to Rutherford County and, after 15 years of working in corporate finance, Crim made a major career change and took a job with the Sheriff’s Office in December 1997.

 

As part of his training he spent time observing and working with the SRO division at Oakland High, Central Middle and Smyrna Middle schools. In the summer of 1998, he was approached about joining the SRO program.

 

He spent three years at Oakland High before coming to the realization he “wanted to do some time on the road, while I was still young enough, so I went back to the road and did all the cop stuff.”

 

By stuff, he’s referring to serving as a sniper on the Rutherford County S.W.A.T. team.

 

In 2005, he returned to working as an SRO.

 

He spent three years at LaVergne High School and then three years at Central Middle, at which time he developed the Operation Integrity Program.

 

Crim described the now-defunct Operation Integrity Program he conceived and ran for two years at Central Middle School as an alternative to alternative school for students with behavioral problems.

 

“It was a second chance for them to get some discipline, some trainings and physical training,” he recalled. “It was a whole program, a whole concept of behavior and physical training.”

 

Each student would earn points for good behavior and turning their homework in on time.

 

During the final period of the day, participating students would meet with Crim.

 

They wore yellow T-shirts with Operation Integrity emblazoned across the front.

 

“My vision was to expand that to other middle schools,” Crim said. “It really is a deal for middle school. It doesn’t really work as well at the high school level. (In middle school) they’re still young, but old enough to understand (the lessons he shared with them).”

 

He would take at-risk students on field trips to visit everything from the county jail to a local emergency room.

 

It was an opportunity for students to avoid being remanded to one of the alternative schools.

 

“It was a second chance for a kid,” said Crim, who added, “It was a program that I would love to see again someday.”

 

That was a decade ago.

 

Central Middle was transformed into Central Magnet School. Crim was transferred to Oakland High School and Operation Integrity was phased out.

 

But looking back at his more than two decades with the Sheriff’s Office, he’s most proud of his work with that program and namely the impact it had on the kids who participated.

 

In fact, one particular student went on to graduate from Holloway High School, where each graduating senior identifies someone who had a positive impact on their life.

 

“I got the rose on that one,” Crim said. “She brought it to me and I’m sitting back in the audience and she goes clear up to me in the back, finds me and gives me that rose. I couldn’t even talk. I was so touched and it was awesome.

 

“We still keep in touch today. She’s got three kids and she’s working. It really made a difference in her life.”

 

It was memorable.

 

More importantly, it was meaningful.

 

It is the same impact Crim hopes to have with Rutherford County Schools as the third chapter of his ongoing career.

 

“I am very focused on the kids,” Crim concluded. “I always have been.”

 

PHOTO / KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT