A spot check of a couple of area schools shows administrators feel secure with resource officers on or near their premises. In response to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, which claimed the lives of 20 children and 6 adult staff members, Buckeye Firearms Foundation launched an emergency response training program in Ohio for teachers, administrators, and other school staff.
The nonprofit program has to date provide high-level training to more than 400 teachers and administrators from 152 school districts in 63 of Ohio’s 88 counties over the last three years. One of those counties was Scioto.
“We don’t do it as a district,” Washington-Nile Superintendent Jeff Stricklett said. “We have individual teachers that have taken the training, but that’s just for their own personal (use).”
Stricklett said the district made a move that has given the physical plant more security.
“Right now we have our resource officer (Scioto County Sheriff’s deputy),” Stricklett said. “We’ve got a very good situation. We partnered with our township and we actually house the township deputy over here at our elementary school for $1 a year. They didn’t have a home for him so to speak so we have a desk for him. He has his paperwork. Of course he’s on call but he’s here every morning and throughout the day. So right now we feel comfortable with having Mr. Drake here.”
Joe Eaton, program director for FASTER (Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response) said the response from Ohio educators has been more enthusiastic than he could have ever imagined.
“When we first announced that we planned to train teachers in armed response and emergency medical aid,” Eaton said, “some people said teachers would never sign up. But within days of announcing the program, we had 600 apply for training. In weeks, it soared to over 1,000. Today we have nearly 2,000 faculty members from all over Ohio waiting in line for a chance to get this training. And more are contacting us every day.”
The response for Scott Dutey, superintendent of the Portsmouth City School District said to his knowledge none of his teachers has taken the training, but when asked for his opinion, it was obvious it is something he has thought out.
“I can see the advantages to it,” Dutey said. “Particularly if you’re in a rural district where the response time for law enforcement would be lengthy.”
Dutey said he is aware that the Rock Hill School District has had some teachers trained and that they do carry.
“I can understand why because it would be 30 to 45 minutes before law enforcement personnel would ever get to their facility. In those kinds of situations, I get it,” Dutey said.
Dutey, like Stricklett, said his situation is different from the really rural districts.
“We already have a school resource officer (Portsmouth Police officer) and we meet regularly with the police department and have conversations and we know what kind of timeline we’re looking at if there ever was an emergency. I am not at that point for us yet. Not that we wouldn’t and haven’t had conversations,” he said.
The program is funded by thousands of small, individual donations to Buckeye Firearms Foundation; a 501(c) (3) charitable educational organization based in Ohio and the sister organization to Buckeye Firearms Association. Classes are provided at no cost to school personnel or school districts. To date, no tax dollars have been spent on that training.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.