New focus on security, from the classroom to the courtroom

The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer last week appointed Justice Maureen O’Connor to head a new statewide committee to address court safety and security. The report says Moyer and O’Connor attended a national summit on the issue.

From the story:

    O’Connor, who formerly headed Ohio’s Security Task Force as lieutenant governor and director of public safety, served as a panelist.

    She said the new Ohio Advisory Committee on Security & Emergency Preparedness will focus on identifying best practices for courthouse security, sharing that information and implementing the practices.

    Moyer, chair of the summit, said that although Ohio has been a national leader in securing its courtrooms, he appointed the advisory committee because work still needs to be done in assessing the security practices of Ohio’s courthouses, standardizing practices across the 88 counties and securing resources necessary to keep courtrooms safe.

Court and classroom safety is a subject that has drawn increased attention in recent weeks, in the wake of several high-profile shootings in places where guns are banned. A difficult lesson was learned by the nation in the Red Lake High School tragedy, where all the “feel-good” safety precautions on the world were unable to stop a determined killer.

Back here in Ohio, it’s not just the Supreme Court taking a fresh look at safety – Ohio schools have a lot on their mind as well.

Click on the "Read More..." link below for more.

  • Toledo: Police Plan Massive Presence After Threat Found in School
      Students will be allowed to stay home on Tuesday without penalty after Maumee High School administrators found a threat written on a bathroom wall. Principal Larry Caffro says he wants as many students as possible to come to school, but will allow them to stay home if their are afraid.

      When they get to school, students can expect to see five or six officers patrolling the grounds of the school. Inside the building, there will be two student resource officers. There's normally one. "We're leaning toward the fact it's a prank. But again, we always have to take something like this seriously. If it's not a prank we need to be ready," says Principal Larry Caffro.

      Last Friday, administrators found graffiti in a second floor girl's restroom. It contained a gang reference, a drawing of a gun and the words "Maumee High School shooting 4-26-05". Administrators called police, who started an investigation.

      School officials say they're not taking any chances after the fatal shooting at Columbine High School a few years back, and a recent massacre in northern Minnesota.

  • Dayton: Fourteen-Year-Old has Gun in School
      There were some scary moments for students at one Miami Valley school Thursday morning. Officials found an unloaded gun on Dunbar property.

      Police have taken two students into custody. They say they are now looking for a magazine clip to the gun that was found.

      Police got the call early Thursday morning. They say administrators got information from a student who saw another student, a fourteen year old boy, with a gun inside the school. Police took the juvenile down to the juvenile detention center. They recovered the gun but it was not loaded. They got a tip from another student that there was a fifteen year old boy in the school who may have been hiding the ammunition. They did not find the magazine clip on him. That fifteen year old has also been taken down to the juvenile detention center.

      Police say they are taking this very seriously. Having a gun in the school is very dangerous. And investigators are now trying to figure out just how that fourteen year old got the gun.

  • Dayton: Local Authorities Prepare for School Shootings
      With school shootings becoming a common headline in the news, local authorities prepare for the worst. Wednesday, the Riverside Police Department held training exercises at the former "Mad River Middle School."

      In the past, officers would wait for the S.W.A.T. team to respond to a school shooting threat. But local departments are changing their protocol and their skills to react immediately in a disaster situation. “We're not going to wait any more like Columbine and have a lot of loss of life happen because of people waiting. We're training officers to be able to go inside and take care of the situation,” said Matthew Sturgeon.

      The exercise is part of ongoing training. Next month the department will hold another mock school shooting training exercise, including the students and school employees.

    No matter how much training, no law enforcement team will be able to respond as fast as trained, armed teachers would be able to. If five kids die instead of ten, because SWAT came quicker, will it make anyone feel any better?

  • Students, teachers in Lorain feel unsafe
      The city schools have not done enough to protect students, a safety task force reported Monday.

      The panel reached the conclusion after surveying 200 high school students and finding that more than one in four feel "unsafe" or "not very safe." Thirteen percent of teachers surveyed expressed similar feelings.

      But teachers and students had strikingly different views of what the threats are. While students see fighting, guns and drugs as the biggest security problems, teachers listed disrespect.

      Eleven percent of students - but no teachers - said weapons were the worst problem. Twelve percent of teachers - but no students - identified inconsistent rules as the trouble.

      "The reality is the schools are out of control and unsafe," said Police Chief Cel Rivera, a task force member. "We're challenging the school board to adopt workable policies to make everyone safer without creating a prison-like setting."

      The task force recommended:

    1. A permanent safety committee of staff, parents and community members.
    2. A full-time administrator appointed to overhaul safety and crisis plans.
    3. A stricter dress code for teachers and students.
    4. Use of portable metal detectors.
    5. Security cameras in hallways and parking lots.

    How tragic that this “safety task force” has come up with nothing that would work to stop a Red Lake/ Columbine style attack.

    Why does it have to take a tragedy for people to realize that there is a difference between feeling safe and being safe?

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