Rep. Cera supports school resource officers legislation

COLUMBUS, Ohio — State Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, announced his support for House Bill 318, which passed out of the House Wednesday.

The bipartisan legislation outlines the duties of school resource officers and provides funding to train officers and provide school safety programs for Ohio schools.

Cera noted that while school districts are increasingly looking to SROs as an added level of protection for students and teachers against violence, the role of a “School Resource Officer” is not clear under current Ohio law. In some instances, the term is used to describe unarmed, private security, while in other cases it is used to define a police officer assigned to a school. HB 318 will provide a clear definition regarding SROs’ role at Ohio’s schools and outline necessary qualifications and training.

“There is an immense responsibility that comes with keeping our kids safe,” said Cera. “House Bill 318 ensures that our schools are employing properly trained resource officers to handle emergency situations, evaluate building security issues and effectively communicate with students, teachers and staff members to build Rapport.”

HB 318 would require SROs to complete an approved training program, with an additional 40 hours of instruction specific to performing in school environments, including classroom management, de-escalation techniques and a focus on communication skills to facilitate positive student interactions.

Cera introduced an amendment that passed unanimously in the House Finance Committee to require the Facilities Construction Commission to send a report to the General Assembly outlining cost effective ways to add physical security changes and identify possible upgrades to Ohio school buildings.

“Working collaboratively with our school leaders, SROs can make a lasting, positive impact in our schools. This bill is a vital tool to help keep our children and loved ones safe,” said Cera.

There are over 30 states without clear guidelines for SROs. Cera believes that Ohio can be a leader in providing a framework and definition of an SRO with the passage of this legislation.

The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.