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DeWine outlines new proposals to make Ohio schools safer

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine outlined a plan he says are the next steps to increase school safety in the wake of a school shooting in Texas that killed 19 elementary students.

DeWine, who included no expected costs, wants schools to be able to evaluate potential threats and develop responses, as well as improve the physical security of school buildings and campuses.

“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. “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.”

Part of DeWine’s plan goes along with a bill introduced last year that would require some schools to have threat assessment teams. Also, he announced the Ohio School Safety Center will increase its number of regional school liaisons across the state.

The center was created in 2019 and in 2020 added five liaison positions that assist schools in implementing best practices in physical school safety, training and planning.

The proposal also is expected to include a request to the General Assembly to pay for each school building in the state – public and private – to meet the best practices for physical school safety. The state already committed $5 million this year for K-12 safety measures.

“While there is more work to do so Ohioans have peace of mind knowing their children’s focus in school can be on learning and preparing for the future, we have made great strides in emphasizing the importance of good mental health and wellness, while giving law enforcement officers the tools they need to keep our communities safe,” DeWine said.

DeWine is also calling on the Legislature to pass House Bill 383 that increases penalties for repeat violent offenders who do not have the right to possess a gun. The bill, introduced in October, had its third hearing before the House Government Oversight Committee last week.

“My local public safety officials have brought to my attention that a major issue contributing to gun violence in my district and across Ohio is the lack of legal recourse available to keep individuals who violate Ohio’s gun laws in jail,” Rep. J. Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield and the bill’s sponsor, said in testimony. “The bottom line: there are a small number of repeat offenders committing violent crimes in each of our communities. These individuals have already lost their right to own a firearm in the United States. However, their propensity for violence has not stopped them from obtaining firearms illegally and putting others in danger.”

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