Ohio buys two ‘shoot houses’ to train armed school employees

view original post

COLUMBUS, Ohio — State public safety officials will use two mobile “shoot houses” to help train armed school employees and other first responders who might find themselves dealing with a school shooting.

The Ohio Controlling Board, a panel of state lawmakers and governor’s office employees, on Monday approved spending $78,000 to buy the two shoot houses from Kontek Industries. The North Carolina based company touts its products as allowing law enforcement to conduct realistic indoor training scenarios by using interlocking walls and doors to recreate specific hallways and rooms.

The Ohio Mobile Training Team, an agency tasked with helping schools assess their security readiness that was created under a 2022 law signed by Gov. Mike DeWine, will incorporate the two shoot houses into the advanced-level training it offers to law enforcement, as well as to school employees who are going through the process of getting certified or recertified by the state to carry guns at school, state officials said.

The 2022 law more broadly made it easier for school districts to arm their employees by allowing them to carry guns after going through 24 hours of training, rather than the 700 hours required of police officers. The bill picked up steam following a 2022 massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers.

Republican lawmakers and other supporters said the change would allow for a quicker response than waiting for police, especially in rural areas, while Democrats and other opponents called the proposal dangerous and criticized Republicans for blocking gun-safety measures that DeWine had proposed following a mass shooting in Dayton in 2019.

Sixty-seven school districts in 36 Ohio counties have opted to arm employees through the state program, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Schools are required to submit rosters of armed staff to state officials, although the number of staff and their identities are not public record. Many of the districts that have submitted rosters are in rural areas.

But three are in the Cleveland-Akron area: Parma City Schools in Cuyahoga County, and Maplewood Career Center and Streetsboro City Schools in Portage County.

Here is a list of all the school districts that have armed staff through the program.

Andrew Tobias covers state politics and government for cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer

———

©2024 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit cleveland.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.