(STL.News) – The Department of Justice announced it has awarded more than $85.3 million to bolster school security — including funding to educate and train students and faculty — and support first responders who arrive on the scene of a school shooting or other violent incident.
“These federal resources will help to prevent school violence and give our students the support they need to learn, grow, and thrive,’ said Attorney General William P. Barr. “By training faculty, students and first responders, and by improving school security measures, we can make schools and their communities safer.”
The 2018 STOP School Violence Act authorized the Department of Justice to create a series of grant award programs under a School Violence Prevention Program. This year, the Department made 215 awards to schools, districts and other jurisdictions throughout the United States.
The South Dakota Department of Public Safety was awarded grants for the following: $500,000 for School Violence Technology and Threat Assessment Solutions for Safer Schools Program, $998,240 for a State School Safety Center, and a $500,000 for a School Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training Program.
“The Department of Justice is committed to school safety,” said U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons. “These new federal grants will help to secure our schools and keep our children protected and safe.”
Additionally, the Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) awarded the South Dakota Attorney General’s office $714,268 as part of the COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force Program Awards.
“We are also pleased to announce this substantial new grant to help our drug task forces combat the opioid crisis,” continued U.S. Attorney Parsons. “Every life is precious. This new funding will help us dismantle drug trafficking organizations and relieve the misery they inflict on our communities.”
The Bureau of Justice Assistance, within the Department’s Office of Justice Programs, and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services manage the programs and administer the grants, which include funds to:
Develop school threat assessment teams and pursue technological solutions to improve reporting of suspicious activity in and around schools;
- Implement or improve school safety measures, including coordination with law enforcement, as well as the use of metal detectors, locks, lighting and other deterrent measures;
- Train law enforcement to help deter student violence against others and themselves;
- Improve notification to first responders through implementation of technology that expedites emergency notifications;
- Develop and operate anonymous reporting systems to encourage safe reporting of potential school threats;
- Train school officials to intervene when mentally ill individuals threaten school safety; and
- Provide training and technical assistance to schools and other awardees in helping implement these programs.