On March 23 President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, which, among other provisions, would reauthorize and restore funding for school safety grants administered by the U.S. Department of Justice — a major policy priority for the Security Industry Association (SIA) since 2008.
The new law provides $25 million immediately for school security technology and equipment in addition to emergency communications systems and other coordination with law enforcement to enhance response capabilities. Administered through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), $33 million is authorized annually for the program beginning next year. Overall, the STOP School Violence Act included in the spending measure authorizes a total of nearly $1 billion in funding for DOJ school safety grant programs through 2028.
Addressing the threat to schools demonstrated by recent tragedies at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and Great Mills High School in Maryland requires a holistic approach to bolstering school safety and security, SIA reported in a press release. Modern, effective security infrastructure that can help deter or limit violence is an essential component of any comprehensive school safety strategy. However, federal grant assistance specifically for facility security measures had been unavailable since fiscal 2011.
SIA, along with stakeholders representing the law enforcement and education communities including The School Superintendents Association, the National School Boards Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and other like-minded organizations, worked to support the reviving of this grant assistance, particularly in the aftermath of the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.
“SIA commends the leadership of Senator Hatch, R-Utah, and Congressman John Rutherford, R-Fla., in authoring the STOP School Violence Act, and recognizes the unwavering support provided by the Congressional School Safety Caucus led by Congresswoman Susan Brooks, R-Ind., and Congressman Rick Larsen, D-Wash. who authored reauthorization legislation, the School Safety Act, and has led supporting efforts in the House since 2015. As school systems consider investments to improve security, it is critical that finite resources support effective, affordable and appropriate, solutions,” said Jake Parker, SIA director of government relations.
“As the Congressional Safety Caucus founder and co-chair, I am proud this year’s spending bill included over $2 billion in funding for school safety measures, including the STOP School Violence Act, to provide our nation’s schools with tools and technology needed to keep students and faculty safe so they can learn in a safe environment. I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to provide our children and families the peace of mind they deserve,” noted Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks, R-Ind.
SIA is a cofounder of the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS), a consortium of school security experts that developed threat- and income-based guidelines for schools housing grades K-12 to implement appropriate, layered security measures. Those guidelines are available to help guide school investments at passk12.org/toolkits/.