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New program gives more training to officers in charge of keeping Indiana students safe

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 23, 2014)– A new program was designed to give additional training to officers who are working in schools across Indiana.

The Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police spent nearly two years coming up with this program at the request of its members.

It was approved by the law enforcement training board and the Indiana Department of Education. The course is a 40-hour class. People who complete the class will get both their school resource officer certification and their school safety specialist certification.

“Hopefully the program covers everything that an officer is going to need to know when he or she is charged with the care of the children in the building,” said Executive Director Michael Ward.

According to Ward, last year Senate Bill 1 of 2013 was approved. He said if a school system applies for a grant, their SRO’s (school resource officers) have to take a 40-hour class. In Indiana, any officer who would like to become an SRO must be certified/trained. Ward said the course they are offering would comply with that and/or it could serve as an option for officers who need to be trained.

To register for the IACP course, it costs $500. The money raised through registration fees is used for the foundation.

“In today’s age (and) with the safety of our children at such a high level of concern, the program is (a) necessary component for ensuring the safety of Indiana children,” Ward said.

Ward said their 40-hour course teaches SRO’s a number of various tools like dealing with a natural disaster, an evacuation or counseling students. This course will start being offered this summer. The course is also available for any law enforcement officer in the state that would like to sign up for it.

Fishers Lt. Mike Johnson overseas the school resource unit for his department and Hamilton Southeastern Schools. He said their school corporation has eight resource officers, who keep 21,000 students safe.

“There are a few different hats the officers wear. Once they’re in the schools, then it becomes more about building relationships and being a resource for the kids,” Lt. Johnson said.

Johnson said their job is to walk the halls of the school and spend time interacting with students besides teaching. He said he supports more training.

“I’m a big advocate of trying to get a school resource officer trained on best practices because there are so many things that we do,” Lt. Johnson said.

School Resource officers or officers who would like to become SRO’s are not limited to only taking the IACP course; there are a number of agencies offering training programs in the state.