Capito, Bipartisan Group Introduce Critical School Safety Legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) yesterday joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act of 2018, legislation that funds school security improvements and invests in early intervention and prevention programs to stop school violence before it happens.
“School violence—in any form—is a real tragedy and occurs too often among children and students today. What’s worse is knowing that many acts of violence in our schools could be prevented if students, teachers, administrators, and law enforcement all had the guidance and training they need to proactively improve school safety,” said Senator Capito. “The STOP School Violence Act will provide resources to help build a coordinated response to school violence and put a stop to these tragedies before they happen."
The legislation authorizes the Department of Justice (DOJ) to make grants for the purposes of training students, school personnel, and law enforcement to identify signs of violence and intervene to prevent people from hurting themselves or others. In addition to prevention efforts, the legislation funds evidence-based technology and equipment to improve school security and prevent school violence. This includes the development of anonymous reporting systems and commonsense security infrastructure improvements. The legislation also provides funds for school threat assessment and crisis intervention teams to help schools intake and triage threats before tragedy strikes.
Following tragedies like Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and now Parkland, the federal government has funded short-term school safety initiatives focused on crisis response, active shooters, and physical infrastructure. While these are important investments, we have not yet seen sustained strategies to stop violence in our schools before it happens. Students, educators, and local law enforcement need the tools and support to take proactive and continuous steps toward improving school safety and security.
“This bill is extremely important in order to keep children attending schools safer,” said Dominick L. Stokes, vice president for Legislative Affairs at the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. “School is supposed to be a safe haven for our children to learn while parents are working. Since 2013 there have been over 300 school shootings. In 2018 we have seen 11 school shooting across the country. This bill with help implement better ways to protect our children at school by adding money and resources to protect them by reauthorizing the grant program for school security.”
The STOP School Violence Act reauthorizes and amends the 2001-2009 bipartisan Secure Our Schools Act to offer DOJ grants to states to help our schools implement proven, evidence-based programs and technologies that stop school violence before it happens.
The bill permits 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.
- Facilitate coordination between schools and local law enforcement.
The bill would authorize $75 million for FY2018 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.
Led by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), other co-sponsors include Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Angus King (I-Maine).
A one pager on the bill is avialable here.
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