HAMILTON, Ohio - Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones unveiled a plan Thursday afternoon to provide trained, armed personnel inside schools by looking for teachers or substitute teachers who are either retired officers or have gone through police academy training to be sworn in as deputies.
Jones' initiative was crafted with the help of retired Mason police officer Scott Miller, who has been sworn in as a Butler County deputy with the intention to safeguard any school in Ohio, but also serves as a substitute teacher.
Miller was forced to retire when he was injured after being hit by a vehicle two different times while on the job, and decided to be a substitute teacher following his retirement so he could remain in public service. Miller said at the Thursday afternoon press conference that he is willing to put his life on the line for any child.
"No child should be fearful of going to school," Miller said.
Sheriff Jones said he knows of three schools that would be interested in this initiative, but would not name the schools. Jones said he is willing to swear in other teachers or substitute teachers that are also retired officers or those with police training as deputies for this purpose with just a background check.
"Something is better than nothing, but this is better than that," Miller said.
The sheriff called the initiative a "fresh idea, outside the box" proposal.
Sheriff Jones said he hopes the proposal will be readily accepted in Butler County, and believes it can be easily applied throughout Ohio and nationwide.
Arming personnel in schools has become a debated topic since the mass shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that claimed the life of 20 children.
This initiative comes on a day when Ohio is kicking off the first of five regional sessions to train Ohio educators to respond to school shooting situations .
The attorney general and the Ohio Department of Education are partnering on the free training for teachers and administrators. Police officers also were invited.
More than 200 people registered for the first sessions, scheduled Thursday in Columbus where Attorney General Mike DeWine will be on hand.
The state says planning for the training began after the school shooting in Chardon, Ohio that left three students dead last February. It says the December massacre at Sandy Hook created a surge in interest and accelerated scheduling of the sessions.
More training events are planned, including one in Cincinnati, over the next few weeks.
Springboro schools in neighboring Warren County recently took steps toward allowing faculty and staff to carry arms inside the school , with their school board voting to have their policy committee take a deeper look at creating rules under which firearms could be carried, including what level and kind of training would be required for staff to carry firearms to class.
"If a would-be shooter knows that they aren't likely to succeed, and that there is a high probability that they will encounter someone with a weapon inside the school, I think that's a real deterrent," said Jim Rigano, a Springboro schools board member.
Recommendations have also come from Ohio Attorney General DeWine and Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters to consider allowing school resource officers (SRO), teachers and staff members to carry guns on school grounds came on the heels of the Sandy Hook mass shooting.
Critics have argued that arming teachers or persons inside schools will only make the environment potentially more dangerous.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday unveiled a gun control package that included signing 23 executive orders aimed at curbing gun violence. The president's executive actions included ordering federal agencies to make more data available for background checks, appointing a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and directing the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence.
9 On Your Side reporter Tony Mirones contributed to this report.
Some information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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