COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday announced plans to spend “a significant amount of money” on efforts to ensure every school building in the state is properly protected against an attack.
The Republican governor said he’s asked the state schools superintendent for an assessment of which schools need such infrastructure additions within the next few days. DeWine did not name a figure but said, “This is not going to be cheap.”
He also did not detail the types of security measures he's talking about, which based on measures some schools already have in place, might range from metal detectors to classroom barricade devices.
All parents in Ohio need to know if their students' buildings, whether public or private schools, meet the highest standards for protection, DeWine said in his first remarks since a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in a Texas elementary school Tuesday.
“When we’re dealing with our children’s lives we must be willing to spend the money we need to spend,” he said.
DeWine also announced plans to “dramatically increase” the number of regional liaisons with Ohio's School Safety Center — currently four — who work with schools on safety and security. The center is still determining how many more will be added, said Department of Public Safety spokesperson Bret Crow.
In addition, the governor announced plans — without specifying a dollar amount — to pay for “comprehensive” training for all Ohio educators to help identify troubled children early on.
In the wake of the 2019 Dayton massacre that killed nine and wounded more than two dozen, DeWine announced his “STRONG Ohio” plan to address gun violence. His proposals include higher penalties for violent felons caught with guns and to ensure that mentally ill people don't have guns if a court deems them dangerous to themselves and others.
Republican lawmakers have refused to vote on such proposals and instead sent the governor bills weakening gun control measures, including a bill making concealed weapons permits optional for anyone legally allowed to carry a gun. DeWine signed that measure into law in March and said Friday he stands by that decision.
DeWine urged lawmakers to pass his proposals, along with a pending House measure that would set standards for training armed school employees in districts that allow it. Messages were left for GOP legislative leaders.
The House bill, which is now in the Senate, would require that school employees who carry guns take the eight hours of training required for a concealed weapons permit under Ohio law, then take 18 additional “general” hours of training and two hours of handgun training.
Meanwhile, a Senate-passed bill would allow for armed employees in schools and require the creation of rules for their training. Earlier this week, Senate President Matt Huffman predicted some version of these bills could pass as soon as next week.
What parents and others want is that, in the event of an attack, “there’s some ability for children to be protected," Huffman, a Lima Republican, said Wednesday.
Asked about tougher gun control measures, the governor said his mission as a leader is to work on proposals that have a chance of passing.
“What I’m not going to do is spend time on things I know this General Assembly will not pass,” DeWine said.
In a release issued by DeWine's office on Friday afternoon, the governor's priorities were laid out in a bit more detail.
- Comprehensive Behavioral Threat Assessment Training for Ohio Educators: The Ohio Department of Public Safety and Ohio Department of Education will provide comprehensive, evidence-based behavioral threat assessment training for all Ohio educators.
- Enhanced Statewide Safety Support for Schools
- Improved Physical Safety in Ohio’s School Buildings
- Enhanced Penalties for Violent Crime: DeWine's office states that "because most gun violence is committed by a relatively small number of repeat violent offenders who do not have the legal right to possess a gun, penalties for violent offenders must be strengthened." House Bill 383 would increase the penalty for violent offenders who continue to illegally obtain and possess firearms.
- Accurate and Complete Background Checks: DeWine called on the Ohio General Assembly to mandate that local court and law enforcement agencies enter all of their warrants and protection orders into the appropriate state and national databases within 48 hours after they are issued.
DeWine also reminded Ohioans about the Safer Ohio School Tip Line, which is a free, statewide resource to anonymously report school safety concerns. Ohioans can call or text 844-SAFEROH (844-723-3764) at any time of day.
“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,” added DeWine.