BCI drones, videos available to schools

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced June 20 increased efforts by the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) to aid educators and law enforcement in preparing for and reacting to a potentially violent school incident.

“Schools should be safe, nurturing places for children to learn and grow. Ensuring that students and teachers are protected during the school day is an important responsibility for all Ohio communities,” DeWine said “Although the Attorney General’s Office does not have oversight or authority over Ohio schools, I have always believed that it is important to use the resources of this office in any way we can to help Ohio’s kids.”

Plan aerial photographs

BCI currently has six drones that are used primarily to document crime scenes and assist in missing persons cases. BCI is now offering the use of the drones to take free aerial photographs of school buildings for inclusion in school safety plans.

Ohio law requires that each school in Ohio have a school safety plan on file for law enforcement to aid authorities in responding to an emergency.

“When law enforcement responds to a school emergency, they must have as much information about the school as possible,” DeWine said. “Right now, school safety plans must include floor plans, but I believe that aerial photos will be an effective tool to help law enforcement plan for and respond to a violent incident.”

The addition of aerial photographs to school safety plans is encouraged, but not required for schools. Local law enforcement, in coordination with school administrators, can request that BCI agents take aerial photographs of schools in their area by calling 855-BCI-OHIO (224-6446). BCI will upload the photos to the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG) to be included with school safety plans.

Cedarville, Greeneview and Xenia schools said they already have aerial photos as part of their school safety plans.

Active shooter response

DeWine also released a video series for school administrators and teachers entitled “Active Shooter Response: An Educator’s Guide.”

The series of 25 videos are being produced by OPOTA and provide guidance on how educators and law enforcement can work together to prepare for and react to a violent school incident, such as a school shooting. Ten of the 25 videos were published today and can be found at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/SchoolSafety. The remaining 15 videos will be released later this summer.

The videos are an update to the educator training offered by OPOTA beginning in 2013. Nearly 15,000 educators were trained on how to intervene with students who could pose a danger and how to respond in a crisis situation. A total of 98 sessions were held across the state, and training DVDs were also provided to every school district in Ohio.

“We updated this training and published it online so that teachers and administrators can access the videos at a time that is convenient for them,” DeWine said. “The short videos are meant to be conversation starters for schools as they update their school safety plans and prepare for the new school year.”

The videos released today include: “Planning with Law Enforcement,” “Coded Language,” “Lockdown,” “Lockout,” “Shelter in Place,” “Evacuation,” “Calling 911,” “Duties of Responding Officers,” “Reunification,” and “Recovery.”

Additional videos to be released later this year discuss how to help someone who has been injured, the requirements of school safety plans, and things to consider when developing a plan.

An accompanying companion workbook provides summaries, definitions, discussion points, and next steps for each video to aid presenters who wish to share the videos with a group.

Because each district and school is different, schools should be careful to ensure that their school safety plans consider the information presented in the videos series and make choices that are best for their school and community.

Use of the videos by school personnel is not required, but it is encouraged. It is also suggested that law enforcement, parents, and older students watch the videos as well.