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Published: Wednesday, 11/8/2006

Committee working on uniform action plan for school emergencies

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

In an emergency situation, it would not be a conducive use of time if a law-enforcement agency would first need to learn about a specific school district's crisis response plan.

And it could be confusing if a code for one district were mistakenly used as a code for another.

The solution would be to develop a uniform response plan, which is just what Ottawa County authorities are attempting to do.

Three representatives from the Ottawa County sheriff's office - including Sheriff Bob Bratton - recently met with county school district superintendents to discuss a uniform response plan that would be implemented by law-enforcement agencies throughout the county with the support of the sheriff's office.

"Superintendents, the sheriff, police chiefs, and student resource officers are working together to come up with a consistent plan of action," Ottawa County Capt. Steve Levorchick said. "This way, we respond to all schools in Ottawa County the same way."

Though all school districts have a crisis plan in place, aspects could differ from those used in other county districts.

"It would do no good if Genoa uses a code yellow, and Oak Harbor uses a code red, and Woodmore uses a code green, and they all mean the same thing," Genoa Superintendent Dennis Mock said. "So we thought, 'Can we get together and look at all the building plans and come up with some commonality so all law enforcement and school personnel are all on the same page?'•Even though we've revised them individually, we want to revise them on a county basis too."

To devise the best crisis response plan that the county should have in place, Captain Levorchick said a subcommittee of about 10 people, including superintendents and law-enforcement personnel, was formed.

While no deadlines have been set, the intent is for the plan to be compiled as quickly as possible and tested on a regular basis, sheriff's office authorities said.

Captain Levorchick said a recently passed Ohio Senate bill outlining the mandatory testing of security plans for schools helped county officials speed up their intention to create a uniform crisis response plan, which had been discussed in the past.

"The bill jump-started us again to get the ball moving a bit faster," he said.

Testing the security plans for the schools will be monitored by local law-enforcement agencies and the sheriff's office.

The local police chief of each jurisdiction will monitor and report when the drills have been completed to ensure the plan is tested regularly and that any new issues that arise are addressed, sheriff's office authorities said.

The ultimate goal, sheriff's office officials said, is to ensure the schools are as safe as possible.



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