Coshocton schools move closer to arming staff with guns

COSHOCTON COUNTY, Ohio - Three Coshocton County school districts may soon arm staff members with guns to preemptively protect students in the event of an active shooter situation. 

River View Local Schools, the Coshocton County Career Center and Coshocton City Schools have been working with the county sheriff's department to train staff members and implement policies for them to carry firearms in the schools while class is in session, according to reports from the sheriff's office. 

“Our number one priority is student safety, and we must be prepared to respond immediately to active shooter situations," said Coshocton City Schools Superintendent David Hire. "The extensive and on-going training will ensure that we are ready for any such emergency, and we will not have to wait for additional first responders in the event of a critical situation. It is unfortunate that we have to consider these types of options to protect our students and staff, but the reality is that we must be prepared."

Several staff members from each district volunteered to be trained and licensed to carry firearms, said officials from the sheriff's department. The employees, whose identities have been withheld by authorities, were required to go through conceal and carry classes with the intention of training them to potentially carry a gun in a school setting. 

Following the conceal and carry training, the staff members participated in the FASTER (Faculty/Administrator Safety Training & Emergency Response) training. Each staff member was required to pass a qualification test and sheriff's officials say ongoing training through the sheriff's office will be mandatory in order for them to be permitted to carry a gun in school. 

The Sheriffs Office Special Response Team will provide the staff members with training intended to focus on tactics that would be used in an active shooter scenario. Officials say the training they will provide is more specialized than what an average school resource officer would receive. 

“With many school districts in Ohio already moving forward with arming select staff, we felt it [is] very important for our community that your Sheriff’s Office be directly involved from the beginning of this endeavor," said Coshocton County Sheriff Timothy Rogers. "We needed to ensure that the highest standard of training and expertise be given to the participants in order to best protect our children in the climate we now find ourselves in. I applaud our local school districts for taking a proactive approach in this very serious decision.”