Not long after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, I was approached by many parents regarding necessary changes in school safety. One of whom was Shane Bates, an Independence police officer, who wished he could volunteer a few hours a week in his children’s schools as an armed security guard.

Armed security in public schools is not uncommon. Many urban and suburban school districts have paid, full-time law enforcement officers, especially in high schools. Soon after I spoke with Officer Bates, I contacted Summit County Sheriff Steve Barry, and held a meeting with him, Officer Bates, and Lt. Doug Smith. Lt. Smith then wrote a report on what would be needed on the local level for them to help our schools and students.

In his detailed report, Lt. Smith named his initiative the Law Officers Volunteering in Education program, which cleverly becomes the acronym LOVE. As discussions came to fruition, I was finally able to introduce House Bill 215 last month, a bill that has received bipartisan support. More importantly, this will come at no cost to the schools.

LOVE permits active and retired law enforcement officers to volunteer as security up to nine hours a week in schools. They will be able to sign up with the sheriff of the county in which they wish to volunteer. Once approved, their names will be disbursed to local school districts, which will be able to contact them for scheduling purposes.

As an incentive, I have proposed allowing these volunteers to be eligible for a $500 tax credit for their dedication to our schools.

I believe that programs like LOVE can work to protect our children while encouraging commonsense initiatives for safety. Foreseeing and eliminating violence in our schools can be a community-based course of action. I’m happy to have introduced a law that was inspired by those in Green and that also helps to protect the well being of our young students.

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