Ohio Begins Training School Staff On Active Shooter Situations

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File photo(Photo: Google Images)
File photo(Photo: Google Images)

The Ohio School Boards Association this summer begins training school principals and other staff how to respond to an active school shooter.

Schools are already required to file emergency response plans with the Ohio Attorney General, and the additional training is designed to prevent violent deaths.

The active shooter training is partly a response to the Newtown, Connecticut shootings of elementary school students in December of 2012. Ohio School Board Association spokesman Richard Caster calls Newtown a “defining moment”

“What happened with educators, where basically you’re talking twenty first and second graders, just innocent targets. That’s what I think had the most impact and really hit the vulnerability, especially at an elementary school in that kind of situation,” Caster says.

Caster says the Newtown shootings showed response times to school shootings is critical. Caster says an armed resource officer is one solution. But, Ohio has more than 3-thousand public school buildings and putting a police officer in each building is expensive.

So school districts are now looking to staff.

“That’s why you had discussion over the last couple of years here in Ohio and across the country about a trained, armed staff member,” Caster says.

“It becomes controversial and sometimes emotional. The whole idea is the quicker someone can get to the problem and mitigate it the more lives you are going to save. And that’s kind of where we are today.”

The first class in active shooter training offered by OSBA drew 20 school staff from a handful of districts around Ohio. Columbus police SWAT team commander Paul Ohl told the group police policy has changed to allow the first officer on the scene to engage the shooter.

“It makes the mind of the active agressor, active shooter, switch from being an aggressor, which is a very offensive term to defensive and he becomes the hunted as soon as he knows that law enforcement is responding.”

The school staff training is done over two days. Caster says the weakest link in any active shooter response plan is what he calls the “human factor,” the belief that it cannot happen at any given school.