Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has unveiled a technology-driven initiative aimed at enhancing school safety and crisis response.
The initiative, which allocates $4 million in grant funding, intends to equip school districts with advanced crisis-response technology that establishes a direct link between educational institutions and law enforcement agencies.
The grant program seeks to expedite emergency responses and bolster crime prevention efforts across the state, and comes on the heels of another statewide program launched in 2021 by Governor Mike DeWine, which awarded $215 million to thousands of schools for safety upgrades.
“When a crisis is unfolding, school administrators need tools that can quickly inform law enforcement of potential threats,” Attorney General Yost stated in an announcement. “This grant will equip our school buildings with tools that reduce response times when minutes matter the most.”
The new grant program, initially piloted last year, offers a lifeline to Ohio’s schools, enabling them to invest in various cutting-edge safety technologies.
These technologies include systems that provide immediate camera access to responding law enforcement, silent panic alarms, gunshot-detection technology, license plate reader alerts for vehicles belonging to registered sex offenders and alert systems warning of wanted dangerous individuals.
Each school district in Ohio has the opportunity to apply for a maximum of $30,000 in grant funding, which can be utilized for one or multiple buildings within a district.
Importantly, schools that applied for the pilot program are strongly encouraged to reapply, as the state is committed to further enhancing security measures and protecting the well-being of students and staff.
The grant application window opens on October 1, 2023, and runs through November 30, 2023.
Interested schools can submit their applications through the Ohio Grants Portal, with the submission date being a significant factor in the evaluation process. Schools are advised to apply early to increase their chances of securing this vital funding.
Recipients of the grants will be notified in January 2024, and grant payments are anticipated to be disbursed in early 2024.
Dr. Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, said it was important to both acquire the technology and invest in proper planning and staffing to make the most of this opportunity.
He also highlighted the significance of training staff and fostering situational awareness.
“We have to focus on the people side, training our staff, situational awareness, because those are the things that will make you or break you both in prevention and responding to an incident,” Trump said.