Cherry: Keeping Our Schools Safe

Posted by: Lydia Kirschner  | Monday, February 18, 2019 1:10 pm

Ensuring students have a safe place to learn and grow is vital. While Indiana is a national leader in school safety, there is more that can be done to protect Hoosier students, teachers and staff. This legislative session, I am supporting proposals for new laws further strengthening school safety.

I voted in favor of House Bill 1004 and House Bill 1225 to help schools improve building security, receive funding for law enforcement and school resource officers, conduct threat assessments and implement app-based response systems.

House Bill 1004 would establish grant funding flexibility for school safety initiatives through the Indiana Secured School Safety Grant Program. Since 2013, $53 million in matching grants have been provided to school districts across the state through this program. The bill would enable more schools, especially small, rural schools, to improve safety measures, increase partnerships with law enforcement and implement new precautions to ensure preparedness in emergency situations.  

Through this proposed law, schools would implement recommendations from a 2018 Indiana school safety report to improve mental health resources for students and strengthen physical security. Schools would conduct at least one active shooter drill each semester to help better prepare students, teachers and staff. Mental health screenings and dedicated counselors would also be more readily available to students. Kids and teenagers experience a lot of mental and emotional changes, and while mental health issues do not directly correlate to violence, screenings would help provide school children with support and identify at-risk students.

House Bill 1225 would provide schools the option of using funds in the Indiana Secured School Safety Grant Program to install mobile apps to help improve communication and fast-action responses. When an emergency arises, these apps are activated, and 911 call centers and all on-duty and off-duty police officers in the area are alerted. The technology helps law enforcement monitor and respond quickly to life-threatening situations, which is key to saving lives. Hancock County schools already utilize this type of response system, while also adding additional school resource officers and acquiring handheld metal detectors. County-wide school safety meetings are also hosted every month at Greenfield-Central High School.

By enacting these policies on behalf of our schools, we can continue providing a safe place for students, teachers and staff to thrive. To learn more about House Bill 1004 and House Bill 1225, visit iga.in.gov. Your opinions matter, and as proposals for new laws progress through the process, let’s stay connected. For questions or input, please call 317-232-9651 or email H53@iga.in.gov.

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State Rep. Bob Cherry (R-Greenfield) represents House District 53,

which includes portions of Hancock and Madison counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.