COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) — Governor DeWine has announced Ohio’s next steps for enhancing the safety of Ohio’s students, teachers and school personnel.

The priorities outlined are focused on helping school officials evaluate potential threats and develop appropriate responses, as well as improve the physical security of school buildings and campuses, according to a May 27 release.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety and Ohio Department of Education will provide comprehensive, evidence-based behavioral threat assessment training for all Ohio educators. Threat assessment models help schools and teachers uniformly evaluate troubling student behaviors, develop plans for intervention and connect students in need to services. 

DeWine also announced that the Ohio School Safety Center will increase its number of regional school liaisons across the state. Governor DeWine created the OSSC in 2019 and added five school liaison positions in 2020.

These liaisons assist schools in implementing best practices in physical school safety, training, and planning in each of the Ohio Department of Education’s 16 State Support Team regions. The expanded team will also assist schools and law enforcement with conducting annual security and vulnerability assessments to ensure security practices are up to date.

To combat gun violence, DeWine called on the Ohio General Assembly to swiftly pass House Bill 383, sponsored by Representative Kyle Koehler, which increases the penalty for violent offenders who continue to illegally obtain and possess firearms. 

DeWine has also used his authority to ensure more of the information necessary for accurate background checks is entered into the federal background check systems. Since forming a task force to study the issue in 2019, the number of warrants entered into the National Crime Information Center database has increased by more than 1,000 percent. Despite this progress, legislative change is needed to ensure background checks are accurate.

He called on the Ohio General Assembly today 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 Ohio’s free, statewide resource to anonymously report school safety concerns. Ohioans can call or text 844-SAFEROH (844-723-3764) at any time of day.

After hearing about the need for more accessible mental health services for students on college campuses, Governor DeWine led the nation with a $13.5 million investment to expand mental health services for higher education students. 

Enhancing School Security Governor DeWine developed the Ohio School Safety Center within the Ohio Department of Public Safety to be a comprehensive, statewide office focused exclusively on enhancing the safety of Ohio schools. The center maintains and promotes the Safer Ohio Schools Tip Line (844-SAFEROH) and assists schools and first responders in preventing, preparing for, and responding to threats and acts of violence including self-harm. Staff also proactively scans social media and websites to identify threats against schools. Governor DeWine created the Ohio School Safety Working Group consisting of experts in the fields of public safety, education, mental health, emergency management, and others. The group meets quarterly to discuss school safety issues, trends and local needs. 

Additionally, DeWine created the Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program to provide funding to local law enforcement agencies to help them implement new violent crime reduction strategies in their communities.  

DeWine also directed the Ohio State Highway patrol to assist local law enforcement with “surge operations” designed to interdict gun violence and repossess stolen or illegally possessed guns.