COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– Days after one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced new measures for student and teacher safety.
On Tuesday, an 18-year-old gunman stormed Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and killed 18 students and two adults. Children in the fourth-grade classroom made calls to 911 while nearly 20 officers were in the hallway. After more than 45 minutes, agents used a mastery key to open the door and killed the gunman.
“We continue to pray for the families who have lost their children; there’s nothing in the world more difficult than losing a child,” DeWine said in a news release on Friday.
“It is important to identify early on someone who is having problems in order to intervene and get them the help they need. We must do more to strengthen our schools’ physical security, and we must ensure school personnel have the proper training and support to keep themselves and their students safe. While our work continues, I commend Ohio’s school officials, who have worked very hard over the last few years to prepare, prevent, avert, and avoid tragedies.”
Here is his plan:
Comprehensive Behavioral Threat Assessment Training for Ohio Educators: The Ohio Department of Public Safety and Ohio Department of Education will provide comprehensive, evidence-based behavioral threat assessment training for all Ohio educators. This training will help schools comply with H.B. 123, sponsored by Rep. Gayle Manning during the last General Assembly, which requires some schools to have threat assessment teams. Threat assessment models help schools and teachers uniformly evaluate troubling student behaviors, develop plans for intervention, and connect students in need to services.
Enhanced Statewide Safety Support for Schools: DeWine announced that the Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC) will increase its number of regional school liaisons across the state. Governor DeWine created the OSSC in 2019 and added five school liaison positions in 2020. These liaisons assist schools in implementing best practices in physical school safety, training, and planning in each of the Ohio Department of Education’s 16 State Support Team regions. The expanded team will also assist schools and law enforcement with conducting annual security and vulnerability assessments to ensure security practices are up to date.
Improved Physical Safety in Ohio’s School Buildings: Every school building in the state, public and private, should meet the best practices for physical school safety. DeWine will work with the Ohio General Assembly to invest more funding to assist school districts with enhancing the physical safety and security of their schools. This funding will be in addition to previous capital investments in Ohio schools which included $5 million to fund K-12 safety measures.
Enhanced Penalties for Violent Crime: Because most gun violence is committed by a relatively small number of repeat violent offenders who do not have the legal right to possess a gun, penalties for violent offenders must be strengthened. DeWine today called on the Ohio General Assembly to swiftly pass House Bill 383, sponsored by Representative Kyle Koehler, which increases the penalty for violent offenders who continue to illegally obtain and possess firearms.
Accurate and Complete Background Checks: DeWine has used his executive authority to ensure more of the information necessary for accurate background checks is entered into the federal background check systems. Since forming a task force to study the issue in 2019, the number of warrants entered into the National Crime Information Center database has increased by more than 1,000 percent. Despite this progress, legislative change is needed to ensure background checks are accurate. DeWine called on the Ohio General Assembly today to mandate that local court and law enforcement agencies enter all of their warrants and protection orders into the appropriate state and national databases within 48 hours after they are issued.