Bacon: Keeping students safe

Posted by: Victoria Klimczak  | Friday, February 23, 2018 4:12 pm

Students go to school to get an education, and they should not have to worry about senseless violence in their classrooms. Hoosier lawmakers, educators and law enforcement officers have worked and will continue working to ensure the children in our schools are safe and protected.

Schools in our area are focused on being alert, taking any possible threat seriously and maintaining a high level of safety in their buildings. Recently, there was a threat made to a school in Warrick County, and swift action was taken at schools throughout the area to address the situation and prioritize the safety of all students. I applaud the school corporation and the local sheriff’s department for their response to this potential threat. Educators and law enforcement are on the frontlines every day, they know the issues and have ideas about where further improvements can be made. I believe that we at the Statehouse can collaborate with these groups to figure out the best way to assure schools are as safe as possible for our young Hoosiers.

As one safety strategy, resource officers are assigned to schools throughout the state. School resource officers must successfully complete training requirements for law enforcement officers, plus they must receive an additional 40 hours of certified school resource officer training. While these officers can’t be everywhere in the school at once, they can be of help in maintaining security, addressing day-to-day situations, and aiding during a crisis.

Many Hoosiers may not realize Indiana is 1 of only 5 states with a “red flag” law. This legislation was enacted in 2006 to take guns out of the hands of people who are deemed dangerous. Under the law, family members, guardians and law enforcement officers can ask a judge to remove guns from the possession of someone who may be a threat to themselves or others. While the law hasn’t been acted on in the past, it could be used to seize weapons from an individual in the case that a threat is made, preventing an act of violence.

Indiana is also the only state in the U.S. requiring each school district to train a certified school safety specialist. The state provided designated educators training and certification at no cost, and specialists learn effective drills, protocols, laws and more throughout a five-day session. Indiana schools are required to have emergency preparedness plans that are subject to random review by the Indiana Department of Education.

Mental health also needs to be continually addressed. Oftentimes, there are warning signs that can slip through the cracks. This legislative session, one of the top bills on the House Republican agenda is to expand the accessibility of mental health treatment in Indiana. Through legislation like House Bill 1007, we are aiming to provide licensure flexibility and streamline credentialing processes for mental health professionals. This could allow more individuals to enter the profession in our state and begin helping those in need of mental health services.

This is a complex issue, and unfortunately there are no simple answers, but our children and educators need to learn and teach in a safe environment. I encourage you to share your thoughts or comments by calling 317-232-9833 or emailing h75@iga.in.gov.

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State Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler) represents House District 75,
which includes portions of Warrick, Pike and Spencer counties.

A high-resolution photo of Bacon can be downloaded by clicking here.