RIVERSIDE, Ohio (WDTN) – Dozens of Mad River Local Schools employees will have access to firearms this upcoming school year.
The district approved armed security response teams last year and plans to implement their new measures on Monday, the first day of school.
The armed response team includes 32 employees who had to pass an interview process and training program.
“Our armed response team is a blend of different staff members that are full-time,” said Mad River Local Schools District Superintendent Chad Wyen.
Wyen says the armed response team went through a 26-hour training course. “They have been trained through the FASTER Saves Lives training. It is hands-on and they actually have to qualify just as an Ohio peace officer would.”
The response team and Wyen will have access to locked security boxes with a firearm inside. The boxes will be placed strategically throughout all of the eight buildings that make up the school district, according to Wyen.
2 NEWS reporter Maytal Levi asked, “What prompted the district to go in this direction in terms of security?”. Wyen replied, “We just need an additional layer for schools safety. Especially with our proximity to Wright Patterson Air Force base. We do have a school building in base housing and that’s not common in Ohio.”
Wyen also says there have been school shootings too close to home like the one in January at West Liberty-Salem High School and one in February of last year in the Madison Local Schools District.
“The reality is that could happen here. I’m not comfortable with that and I don’t ever want that to happen here,” he said.
Levi asked, “What would you say to someone concerned about a student finding one of these locked boxes with a firearm inside?”. He replied, “The likelihood of a student finding a box is slim to none and to be honest as a parent with two students in the district, I’m not concerned at all.”
Wyen says he did recieve a few concerns from a parent and teachers, but says as a whole the feedback has been positive.
“We have a large military population in Mad River and a large Appalachian population and those two communities are a little more accepting of a situation where you have a response team in a school building,” said Wyen.
The armed response team is expected to train twice a year with local law enforcement and will have access to a shooting range for target practice.
Mad River is the first school district to implement an armed security response team in Montgomery County.