Ohio police departments awarded grants for school anti-drug programs

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Police departments across Ohio have been awarded grants to keep safety and anti-drug programs in schools. Toledo got the second biggest chunk of that change.

The Toledo Police Department provides eight school resource officers for Toledo Public Schools and Washington Local Schools. Police said the grant plays a big part in keeping them there.

From when the day begins, to the final bell, students and staff at Woodward High School can count on police support.

"This day and age, I think it's vitally important. When it first started, people were worried of the criticism of what it meant," said Emilio Ramirez, Woodward High School principal.

School resource officers were placed in Toledo high schools about 20 years ago. Ramirez said reservations faded, but now it is hard to imagine school without one.

"It helps with the relationship with our parents and our kids, and I think it gives kid a good view of what police do," explained Ramirez.

But SROs cost money and Toledo Police just landed $111,000 to keep them around.

"I'm glad it happened so we can continue to work together. I think it's a good collaboration," said Ramirez.

The Ohio attorney general announced a $3.8 million drug use prevention grant. The money was divided up among 190 law enforcement agencies. Toledo got the second most after the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

"Without this grant, it'd be very hard to fund this program. They're like heroes in my book. They do a really good job. It's not a grant that everybody can do," said Sgt. Joe Heffernan with the TPD.

The grant money is meant to educate young people on the dangers of drug use. It pays for SROs and Drug Abuse Resistance Education. TPS no longer has DARE, but officers provide programming to students.

"Get the kids understanding at an early age just how devastating drugs can be," said Heffernan.

SROs present to students not only at high schools, but feeder schools as well.

"Not only is she here to help support, but educate the kids," said Ramirez.

Funding for the grants comes from the driver's license reinstatement fees collected from convicted drunk drivers.

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