On March 7, the Secure Schools Alliance (for which SCI Director Dr. Erroll Southers is a board member) distributed a press release supporting the STOP School Violence Act, which if passed would provide resources for early intervention and school safety infrastructure to help schools and communities prevent violence. The full Secure Schools Alliance release follows:
The Secure Schools Alliance (the Alliance) strongly supports the federal STOP School Violence Act legislation (S. 2475) to strengthen the security infrastructure, security technology and life safety systems of America’s K-12 public schools.
The Student, Teachers and Officers Preventing School Violence Act of 2018 (the STOP School Violence Act) would reauthorize and amend the 2001-2009 bipartisan Secure Our Schools Act to offer Department of Justice (DOJ) grants to states, ultimately helping schools implement proven, evidence-based programs and technologies that stop school violence before it happens.
Specifically, the bill would permit grants to fund evidence-based programs and practices to:
- Train students, school personnel and local law enforcement to identify warning signs and intervene to stop school violence before it happens;
- Improve school security infrastructure to deter and respond to threats of school violence, including the development and implementation of anonymous reporting systems for threats of school violence;
- Develop and operate school threat assessment and crisis intervention teams; and
- Facilitate coordination between schools and local law enforcement.
The bill would authorize $75 million for FY 2018, and $100 million annually for the next 10 years, which may be partially offset from a DOJ research program called the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative. Introduced by U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, it is bipartisan legislation with 22 co-sponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“Thanks to Senator Hatch, Congress has made improving school security infrastructure a priority,” said Robert Boyd, executive director of the Alliance. “No intruder should ever be able to enter a school to kill or injure students or staff. We urge Congress to move swiftly on this legislation.”
The Alliance partnered with other groups representing parents, educators, emergency preparedness and industry groups to negotiate language and support the Senate efforts.
“Our focus has always been —and will remain— on school safety, and from our work throughout the country, we know schools desperately need the funding and attention to safety afforded by this bill,” said Michele Gay, executive director and co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools, and member of the board of directors of the Alliance. “Although school safety is a growing concern, our schools lack the resources and support to implement effective measures. While federal assistance alone could never fully address these needs, we feel this bill could make a major impact, and it’s an important first step in ensuring the safety of our nation’s school communities.”
“This is a great step forward, but there is still much to do,” said Dr. Erroll Southers, director of the Safe Communities Institute, professor at the University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy and an expert in homegrown terrorism and critical infrastructure protection. Southers, who’s also a former police officer and FBI SWAT team member added, “Children are our greatest assets, and schools are a part of our critical infrastructure that must be protected.”
“There’s no question that the STOP Violence Act proposed by Senator Hatch will save lives,” added Boyd. “While many state and federal legislators are now racing to create legislation to address deficiencies in school security programs, Senator Hatch was working on this legislation before the tragic events in Florida, and we applaud him for that. The Secure Schools Alliance and our partners are proud to support this critical legislation, which we will call Hatch grants.”