U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) announced support of the bipartisan he Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act of 2018. They joined Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bill Nelson (D-FL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Udall (D-NM), Dean Heller (R-NV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Doug Jones (D-AL), and Angus King (D-ME) in announcing legislation that funds school security improvements and invests in early intervention and prevention programs to stop school violence before it happens.
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, we have not yet seen sustained strategies to STOP violence in our schools before it happens. Our students, educators, and local law enforcement need the tools and support to take proactive and continuous steps toward improving school safety and security.
“Students should not only feel safe at school, but they should be safe at school. We can go a long way in stopping school violence by making our schools less vulnerable to violent attacks and training our teachers, school administrators, and law enforcement in threat assessment and early intervention techniques. I’m glad to join Senator Hatch and this bipartisan group in a bill that will do exactly that,” Grassley stated. “This is a commonsense bill that will better protect our schools from future tragedy and save lives.”
“Our children’s safety, well-being, and future must always come first,” Ernst said. “This bipartisan bill will provide our schools with additional resources to prevent senseless and tragic violence. The STOP School Violence act will empower our states and local communities to take the steps they deem necessary to deter future threats and ensure our students, teachers and faculty can focus on what is most important at school – learning and growing.”
The 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 ten years, which may be partially offset from a DOJ research program called the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative.