Bellbrook board names teachers, staff to armed shooter response team

Officials “optimistic” about having third school resource officer in the fall.

Some teachers and staff at Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools are now authorized to use firearms as part of the district’s plan to combat school shooting threats.

The Bellbrook school board approved the measure Thursday, appointing a number of individuals to the district’s Volunteer Armed Shooter Response Team.

“We have done our best to have a multi-layered level of protection for our children, that may be largely unprecedented throughout the state,” board member Kevin Price said.

That “layered” approach to school safety includes active shooter training, classroom door-lock mechanisms, an electronic visitor management system, and suicide and violence prevention initiatives, among others, officials previously told the Dayton Daily News.

In January, the district added a second school resource officer for the 2023-2024 school year from the Bellbrook Police Department, and Price was “optimistic” Thursday that the district would be able to have a third SRO after the passage of the Sugarcreek Twp. police levy in May.

Added to that now is an “unknown number” of teachers and staff behind the scenes that “a would-be evil-doer has to consider,” Price said.

“God forbid anything should ever happen, but if it does, I know I’ve done my best,” Price said.

The board initially approved creating the armed response team in September.

Staff members who volunteer for the role must complete an interview process, pass a background check and mental health screening, complete at least 40 hours of training and pass the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy’s live-fire qualification test. No teachers will be permitted to carry firearms on their person in classrooms.

Under House Bill 99, passed last year, Ohio requires a minimum of 24 hours of training for a school employee to carry a gun in a school safety zone. Bellbrook school officials said their 40-hour standard is equivalent to the training required to serve as an armed court officer, bailiff, or probation officer.

Board President Mike Kinsey said he wanted to “commend and thank” those that volunteered for the role.

“We’ve discussed at length the need for a balanced, comprehensive safety plan, and sincere thank you to all the interested individuals that are willing to volunteer in that capacity,” Kinsey said.

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