Congressman Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) introduced two bills and is working on another to help local schools, students, and law enforcement officials address community and school safety concerns.

The bipartisan Mental Health and Public Safety Partnership Act establishes a national pilot program to place on-site social workers in qualified police departments around the country, mirroring the work being done in South Jersey. The Modern School Threat Reporting Act creates new grants for states to create a mobile application (app) that allows students and teachers to report threats to local law enforcement. This bill mirrors the state law in Florida championed by school safety advocate, Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed in Parkland. 

“In many towns across the country, there is a gap between mental health and law enforcement services that needs to be filled. Fostering relationships between law enforcement officials and social workers will better serve our communities and enhance safety throughout our communities,” Congressman MacArthur said. “My home of Ocean County has already taken steps to address this need. The On P.O.I.N.T. program, which creates a partnership between Ocean Mental Health Services and the Stafford Township Police Department, has been successful in connecting local law enforcement officials with mental health professionals. Streamlining communication between these two entities will allow them to better serve communities and understand the deep-rooted causes of problems some families face at home or students face at school.” 

The On P.O.I.N.T. (Proactive Outreach In Needs and Treatment) program in Ocean County provides police officers and social workers in our community the opportunity to work together to better understand how to assist families dealing with mental health related issues. The program has proven results in helping those in our community with mental health issues.

In response to the horrific shooting in Parkland, the state of Florida enacted a law creating a reporting app to allow people to anonymously report suspicious activity in schools and the community to law enforcement. MacArthur’s bill, The Modern School Threat Reporting Act, builds on these efforts and incentivizes states to create an app of their own, which has been an initiative championed by Andrew Pollack, whose daughter, Meadow, was lost on that tragic day in Parkland. The legislation requires that applications for the grant must include a plan to deter misuse of the app, including ways to prevent students from using it to bully others.

“After the tragedy in Florida, students and those in the greater Parkland community came forward about previous signs of mental instability and the intentions of the perpetrator. Creating an avenue to anonymously report threats to local law enforcement will promote community safety and may prevent another one of these horrific events from occurring,” said Congressman MacArthur. “These innovative and modern tools will help states with their specific needs and bolster ongoing efforts to secure schools and create an effective relationship between schools and law enforcement agencies.”

MacArthur is also working on new legislation that will expand the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, also known as the Clery Act, to high schools receiving federal funds.