Nothing is more important than protecting our kids from harm. Unfortunately, the horrific school shooting in Connecticut and the tragedy in our own state last year in Chardon remind us how difficult that task can be.
Creating the safest possible learning environments for our children can only be accomplished by working together. For the Attorney General’s Office, that means partnering with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), other associations, and law enforcement throughout the state on initiatives, trainings, and other measures. For local law enforcement agencies, it means working with their communities’ teachers, administrators, parents, and school boards.
Safety planning offers an excellent opportunity for ongoing conversations between local law enforcement and their schools. As you know, all Ohio schools must file school safety plans with my office. All but a small percentage have complied, however the quality of those plans varies widely.
Ensuring that the plans are comprehensive and reflect best practices should be a constant process involving all segments of a local community, particularly law enforcement. I encourage you to reach out to your schools to offer insight and assistance. My office’s School Safety Task Force developed guidelines for the plans that can serve as a valuable resource. They are available at www.OHLEG.org
Through a partnership between my office and ODE, the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) will offer a new course for educators across Ohio. The free course, Active Shooter Training for Educators, provides guidance on responding to an active shooting and taking preventive measures. I suggest teams of local law enforcement and school officials attend together to enhance planning and communication.
OPOTA also offers free Profile of an Active Shooter and Single Officer Response to Active Shooter trainings to law enforcement. All of these courses will be listed at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/OPOTA
as they are scheduled.
We think of first responders as law enforcement and fire departments. But when there is a school emergency, educators really are the first responders. We need to adopt a holistic approach to prepare them for any threat they may face and to ensure our schools have effective plans to guide their response to emergencies.