COLUMBUS - Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones says armed officers should be required at all Ohio schools and colleges, public and private.
Jones made the suggestion Thursday in a letter to Gov. Ted Strickland and state Rep. Courtney Combs.
The sheriff asked for a new state law requiring "mandatory armed law enforcement presence at all schools" in light of Monday's massacre at Virginia Tech.
"This approach will not come without a price tag. It will not be a guarantee that a school shooting won't ever take place," Jones wrote. "But it can be a step toward promoting the safety of all Ohio students."
Combs, R-Fairfield, said he told Jones on Thursday that he would consider sponsoring a bill to train officers or teachers who volunteer to carry weapons to protect children in schools.
"It needs to be debated," he said in an interview. "There probably will be a lot of debate."
Keith Dailey, a spokesman for Strickland, said the sheriff's letter arrived late Thursday, and the governor had not reviewed it.
Dailey said he had no immediate reaction to Jones' suggestion.
The armed guards could be law enforcement officers or even teachers, administrators and faculty trained and deputized as "Peace Officers" by the state, Jones suggested.
Jones claimed the measure would be "an effective deterrent to a repeat of the Virginia Tech events."
One issue would be cost, Combs said, "But we go back to the old adage, 'What's a life worth?'"
Combs thinks an armed officer could make a difference as a deterrent in a high school. If someone knew there was an armed, trained person in the school, "it may deter you from going in there to do something."
Combs said most schools already are posted as "no-gun" zones, but if someone is willing to kill, a "no-gun" zone is meaningless.
Among the legislator's other concerns: Any armed officer or teacher would have to volunteer for such duty and would have to be trained.
Combs said he thinks a bill can be introduced by the end of next month, and debated in committee in the fall.