Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that he issued an executive order creating a specialized division of Ohio Homeland Security (OHS) devoted exclusively to the safety of Ohio’s students and schools.He held a press conference August 21 to announce the new Safety Center.
As the new comprehensive, statewide office in Ohio focused exclusively on enhancing the safety of our schools, the Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC), will assist local schools and law enforcement in preventing, preparing for, and responding to threats and acts of violence, including self-harm, through a holistic, solutions-based approach to improving school safety.
“Given that schools are often targets of violence, school safety proposals are a prominent part of STRONG Ohio, my 17-point plan to reduce violence with dangerous weapons and increase mental health treatment,” said Governor DeWine. “Having one office where the staff solely focuses on keeping our students safe and our schools secure, will allow analysts to nimbly assess threats, proactively address potential issues, and expertly train and support school faculty in a more streamlined manner.”
Mirroring national trends, Ohio has experienced several incidents of violence in schools over the past seven years, including shootings at Chardon High School in 2012, Madison Junior/Senior High School in 2016, and West Liberty-Salem High School in 2017. In addition, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth and young adults aged 10-24 years.
The OSSC will be headquartered at the OHS offices within the Ohio Department of Public Safety in Columbus and will continue the current work of OHS staff to annually review approximately 5,500 school emergency management plans and offer free risk and threat assessments to schools throughout the state.
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