COLUMBUS - More than 250 educators and law enforcement officers statewide learned how to protect students from gunmen in their schools Thursday at a shooter training course in Columbus.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine hosted the course in conjunction with the state's Department of Education.
"The fact that we are all here is a sad day for me," said Michael Nutter, superintendent of Green Schools in Summit County. But Nutter knows it's necessary adding, "You entered this field to help kids. This is just another phase of education."
The training also taught participants how to identify a troubled youth before a crime occurs and formulate a coordinated response plan.
"This is a mental health problem, and we have to approach it as a mental health problem," said DeWine to reporters after addressing the training's attendants.
Preparations for the course, which will be held in eight other regional locations across the state in the next two months, began after last year's school shooting in Chardon. However, demand for the training increased significantly after December's shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
"Educators are the first responders in all of these incidents," said training instructor James Burke of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.
For more than two hours, Burke analyzed school shootings nationwide – from Columbine to Virginia Tech to Chardon to Success Tech.
The father of four said communication among teachers, coaches and police officers is paramount to preventing serious security incidents.
"No one comes together to talk about what they've seen until after the shooting," said Burke.
Tony Carr, who is the assistant principal of Edison Middle School in Perry Township, said times have changed. But he's committed to doing what is required of an educator today.
"If they don't feel safe and they don't feel secure, then the learning environment isn't going to help them," said Carr.
The courses do not include firearm training. Educators can sign up for the course through the STARS program on the Ohio Department of Education's website. Law enforcement officers can register on the Ohio Attorney General's website.