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Ohio bill requires 40 hours of training for officers in schools

An Ohio House bill would standardize the qualifications and training for police officers serving as school resource officers.

Introduced before the school shooting Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the training requirements of the bill have come into new focus amid outrage stemming from the reported failure of the Broward County Sheriff’s deputy to confront the accused killer.

The Ohio bill, if enacted as law, would establish the qualifications, training requirements and police powers of school resource officers — none of which are specified in current law, which authorizes schools to contract with police departments to provide officers.

MORE: What is a school resource officer?

Specifically, the bill would require new school resource officers receive at least 40 hours of training through either the National or Ohio Association for School Resource Officers to develop skills in a host of areas, including building security needs.

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The bill would also mandate officer training in “the mechanics of being a positive role model for youth,” Ohio’s attendance laws, and drug-use trends.

Broward County, Fla., Sheriff Scott Israel announced last week the deputy on duty at the high school where 17 people were massacred on Feb. 14 waited outside the building for about four minutes without ever going inside.

When asked what Peterson should have done, Israel said the deputy should have “went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer.”

An attorney for the deputy, Scot Peterson, told the Miami Herald the allegation that Peterson “failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue.”

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School resource officers can also help stop an incident from occurring.

Kettering police officer Edward Drayton, the resource officer assigned to Fairmont High School, said such an incident happened in August, when a Fairmont parent who couldn’t find her gun one morning immediately called police, who contacted school officials before the first bell. Drayton and school leaders quickly found the woman’s son before he got to homeroom and confiscated a gun from his backpack, he said.

In Ohio, SRO training typically costs between $400-$500, according to a fiscal analysis of the bill. The analysis shows school districts and police departments typically split the cost of training, and in recent years a number of local parent teacher organizations have supported the cost as well.

“As a result of the bill, law enforcement agencies and school districts may incur a minimal increase in training costs for new SROs that otherwise would not have completed the required SRO training,” the analysis said.

MORE: How to help at-risk students and know where ‘the line’ is

The Ohio Association for School Resource Officers estimates roughly 70 percent of Ohio districts have SROs, with about 650 SROs belonging to the state association, and another 90 holding membership in the national organization.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Sarah LaTourette, R-Chesterland, and Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson.

The Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio has adopted a two-pronged approach to addressing school shootings: “The first is to have well-trained, commissioned law enforcement officers in schools doing the job police are trained to do,” the organization said.

“The second essential action needed to protect our schools and students is to ensure that the school facilities are more secure,” the organization said in a recent statement after the Florida shooting.

MORE: Teachers with guns? Some Ohio districts arm staff but don’t tell public

Staff Writer Jeremy Kelley contributed to this report.

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