New legislation would establish basic training requirements and duties

COLUMBUS – State Reps. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) and Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland) announced today the introduction of House Bill 318, legislation that would create standard training requirements and establish basic responsibilities for school resource officers.

“Under current law, school districts can choose to hire school resource officers and establish certain requirements for them,” said Rep. Patterson. “That leaves Ohio with potentially a different set of requirements and duties in each school district, which could cause confusion for teachers and law enforcement. We believe it is important to establish basic requirements at the state level to minimize uncertainties and keep our children safe.”

While Ohio currently allows individual school districts to hire school resource officers to provide security and safety services, state law lacks guidelines for hiring them. State law also does not contain a definition for a school resource officer, something the legislators address through their bill.

“The 2012 tragedy in Chardon still weighs heavily on all our hearts. This is one substantive action we are able to take as a state to ensure that schools have the proper resources and training to respond to these threats in the best interest of their students,” said Rep. LaTourette. “A standard for school resource officers will ensure continuity throughout the state, encourage more districts to hire them, and ultimately help prevent any further unnecessary deaths.”

Should HB 318 become law, school resource officers would have to complete 40 hours of training approved by the Ohio Peace Officer’s Training Commission. The training must include instruction regarding skills, tactics, and strategies including:

  • School campus design, school building security needs and characteristics.
  • The nuances of law enforcement functions conducted inside a school environment, including understanding the psychological and physiological characteristics consistent with the ages of the students in the assigned building or buildings, de-escalation techniques, and behavior management strategies.
  • The mechanics of being a positive role model for youth, including informal counseling techniques.
  • Classroom management techniques to provide law-related education to students and methods for managing the behaviors sometimes associated with educating children with special needs.
  • The laws regarding compulsory attendance, as set forth in Chapter 3321 of the Revised Code.
  • Identifying the trends in drug use, eliminating the instance of drug use, and encouraging a drug-free environment in schools.

The idea for the legislation, which has the support of the Ohio School Resource Officers Association, came to the lawmakers from the Coach Hall Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing school violence. The organization bears the name of Chardon High School Football Coach Frank Hall, who confronted and chased away 2012 Chardon High School shooter T.J. Lane.

Hall’s foundation believes that there will be a growing need for uniformity as more school districts opt to hire school resource officers.

HB 318 is currently awaiting assignment to a House committee.

Bipartisan push to standardize school resource officer training looks at consistency, student safety