Congressman Roger Williams introduced The School Violence Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2019, which would establish federal grant programs for public schools to identify security risks and fix them and would appropriate $200 million for each of fiscal years 2020 through 2030.
Of those $200 million, $75 million will be made available for grants for independent facility security risk assessment; and $125 million willl be made available for grants for hard security improvements.
To be eligible to receive a grant, a public school must submit to the COPS Director an application, containing such information as the Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Director) may require:
- the size of the school
- a comprehensive report on the financial state of the school, including any Federal, State, or local funds used in the school’s budget; and
- a certification to the Attorney General that the school is unable to cover the cost of an independent facility security risk assessment without the grant awarded under this section.
The COPS Director, in awarding a grant, can give priority to applications of public schools that have experienced an event in which an individual inflicts deadly harm or attempts to inflict deadly harm against multiple individuals and can receive additional funds. The COPS Director may also give priority ti schools who have a higher tier of vulnerability score according to the most recent independent facility security risk assessment.
Schools may use the grant to make hard security improvements identified as necessary by the most recent independent facility security risk assessment. For instance, in the case that a panic alarm is not installed or operable according to the independent facility risk assessment, use the grant for the installation of at least 1 panic alarm for use in a school security emergency, including a non-fire evacuation, lockdown, or active shooter situation, which alarm:
- Must be directly linked to the local law enforcement agency that is closest in proximity to the school
- Must immediately transmit a signal or message to such law enforcement agency upon activation
- Must not be audible within the public school building
The COPS Director, in consultation with school safety experts, including school resource officers, may issue guidelines, which will include a 4-tier scale for assessing security vulnerabilities of schools in independent facility security risk assessments. Tier 4 will indicate the highest level of vulnerability.
The factors to be considered in determining a school facility’s level of vulnerability include:
- the amount of violence occurring on campus involving deadly weapons, including knives longer than three inches, firearms, and explosives
- the number of trespassers who have gained access to campus in the last 3 years
- the ability of a school to carry out an active shooter drill
- the state of existing school security related infrastructure
Two Texas school districts held a press conference to discuss new school safety legislation, according to a news report.