WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King today joined a bipartisan group of their Senate colleagues 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.
“It is essential that we take steps to secure our schools so that students are protected and have a safe environment in which to learn,” said Senator Collins, in a news release. “This bipartisan legislation would help local communities fund new training, reporting systems, and security infrastructure to help enhance school safety. This is one of many sensible steps we can take right now to protect our communities, along with legislation I have introduced to help prevent terrorists from purchasing firearms, crack down on straw purchasing, and strengthen background checks.”
“No child should have to go to school and fear for their safety,” Senator King said. “While there is certainly work more to be done – like passing legislation to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists and strengthening our current background check system – this is an important step forward. By helping communities be proactive in their training exercises and security infrastructure, we can help ensure students across the country are safe and secure so they can learn in a healthy school environment.”
The legislation authorizes the Department of Justice 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, the government has yet to establish 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.
Specifically, Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Act of 2018, or the STOP School Violence Act, reauthorizes and amends the 2001-2009 bipartisan Secure Our Schools Act to offer Department of Justice 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:
- Training to students, school personnel, and local law enforcement to identify and 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.
Joining Senators Collins and King in support of the bill are Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y.), 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.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).