COLUMBUS – State Rep. Debbie held a press conference today to announce the introduction of legislation that will increase the required number of school safety drills each year. She was joined by Athens City Council member Michelle Papai; Captain Harvey, Officer Brooks, and Officer Crossen of the Athens Police Department, Athens City Schools Superintendent Carl Martin, and Service Safety Director Ron Lucas. Local school districts and law enforcement first presented the idea to Rep. Phillips, based on the recommendations of the local school safety committee.
“I want to thank the committee members for their good work in developing recommendations to improve safety in our schools,” said Rep. Phillips. “This is one more tool that will help our communities be better prepared to respond to potentially dangerous situations. Communication between school personnel and law enforcement is critically important for preparedness, and I believe that this legislation will help promote communication, and help school personnel and local law enforcement officials to be working from the same plan in the event of a critical incident.”
The bill would reduce the number of required annual fire drills, and increase the number of required safety drills. Improvements in building construction and fire codes have reduced incidences of dangerous fires, and there have been no fire-related school deaths in over 100 years. However, with recent high-profile violent incidents in schools in schools, it is critical that staff and students are prepared in the face of a threatening situation. Currently, schools are required to have 9 fire drills each year. The proposed legislation calls for safety drills and fire drills to alternate each month for a total of 9 drills conducted each academic school year.
While crisis situations are not always preventable, having a safety routine in place will help to maintain a calm environment in the event an emergency occurs. The School Safety Drills bill will soon be assigned to one of the House’s standing committees.