(STL.News) – The Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) announced nearly $50 million in school safety funding through its School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP). SVPP provides up to 75 percent funding for school safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools and school grounds. As part of this grant announcement, $500,000 was awarded to the Alexandria City Public Schools and $500,000 was awarded to the Chesterfield County Public Schools.
“These awarded grants will provide a necessary resource to schools during these unprecedented times,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Schools should be a welcoming place where students shouldn’t have to live in fear, and these grants will help to ensure that. I want to thank DOJ for their continued commitment to prioritize the safety of our communities, from our youngest children to our oldest citizens.”
The Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Act of 2018 (STOP School Violence Act of 2018) gave the COPS Office authority to provide awards directly to states, units of local government, Indian tribes, and public agencies (such as school districts and law enforcement agencies) to improve security at schools and on school grounds in the jurisdiction of the grantee through evidence-based school safety programs. The 160 awards can be used for coordination with law enforcement; training for local law enforcement officers to prevent student violence; metal detectors, locks, lighting, and other deterrent measures; technology for expedited notification of local law enforcement during an emergency; and other measures that provide a significant improvement in security.
“With the new school year underway, the safety of our nation’s students remains paramount,” said Phil Keith, Director of the COPS Office. “Although this school year may look different at the start, now is the ideal time to make preparations to enhance school safety for when all of our children are back in the classroom.”
In addition to the school safety grants, the COPS Office School Safety Working Group, which is composed of representatives from eight national law enforcement organizations, has identified ten essential actions that can be taken by schools, school districts, and law enforcement agencies to help prevent critical incidents involving the loss of life or injuries in our nation’s schools and to respond rapidly and effectively when incidents do occur. The Ten Essential Actions to Improve School Safety are applicable to school shootings as well as to other areas of school safety, including natural disasters and traumatic events such as student suicide. Adopting policies and practices based on the recommendations in this publication can help make school communities safer and save lives.
The COPS Hiring Program is a competitive award program intended to reduce crime and advance public safety through community policing by providing direct funding for the hiring of career law enforcement officers. In addition to providing financial support for hiring, CHP provides funding to state, local, and tribal law enforcement to enhance local community policing strategies and tactics. In a changing economic climate, CHP funding helps law enforcement agencies maintain sufficient sworn personnel levels to promote safe communities. Funding through this program had been on hold since the spring of 2018 due to a nationwide injunction that was lifted earlier this year.