House Passes Chabot Proposals to Bolster School Security
Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today passed H.R. 4909, the STOP School Violence Act of 2018, by a vote of 407-10. The final version of the legislation is the result of efforts last week between Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Congressman John Rutherford (R-FL) to synthesize school safety proposals contained in separate bills offered by Rutherford and Chabot.
“Our nation’s schools have become soft targets for any would-be killer with a gun,” said Chabot. “We have to do a better job of protecting both students and faculty from these increasingly frequent threats. And today’s action in the House represents a huge step in the right direction. By reauthorizing the COPS Secure Our Schools grant program for next ten years, and more than doubling the funding available for the program, we are helping to give schools and local law enforcement the tools they need to make our schools safer and more secure.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) added: “The STOP School Violence Act was made stronger by Representative Chabot’s work, and our schools and communities will be safer because of it. The tragedy at Parkland has reverberated throughout the country with parents and teachers wondering what can be done to make sure this does not happen again. This legislation provides resources to bolster safety measures at schools so children can learn and teachers can teach without fear of violence. Today’s House passage is due to the great work done by Steve, and we are grateful for his work to help to make American schools safer.”
As passed, H.R. 4909 reauthorizes the COPS Secure Our Schools grant program for 10 years (through 2028) in order to provide states, localities, and tribal governments with the resources they need to take critically important steps to prevent violence in our schools. Additionally, the legislation increases funding for the grant program to $75 million per year, more than double the current level of $30 million annually. The legislation also opens participation in the grant program to private, as well as public, schools, a provision particularly important to Chabot given the number of private schools in the Greater Cincinnati area.
Further, the legislation updates the security measures and activities for which the grants may be used in order to give the Department of Justice, local law enforcement and local school boards the tools they need to better address the evolving threats our schools face. Specifically, the legislation places an emphasis on “evidence-based strategies” that have been proven to help prevent violence. Such security measures include metal detectors, improvements in identifying and treating mental health issues, security training for school employees and students, the coordination of security measures between schools and local law enforcement, the promotion and development of various systems to allow individuals to anonymously report threats of school violence, and the purchase and installation of technology upgrades to more efficiently notify local law enforcement of an active shooter situation.
The COPS Secure Our Schools grant program (reauthorized by H.R. 4909) would work in conjunction with the COPS Hiring Program to make sure that schools have both the security measures and personnel in place to prevent future violence. On Monday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the intention to increase the number of School Resource Officers nationwide through grants under the COPS Hiring Program. The COPS Secure Our Schools grant program could assist in this effort, by giving the Department of Justice the authority to approve proposals to hire retired police officers (as well as other security measures) if it is deemed such steps would “provide a significant improvement in security.”
“I’d like to especially recognize and thank the President of the Cincinnati FOP, Dan Hils, for sharing his common sense proposal to hire retired police officers to provide school security,” added Chabot. “No one is better trained and better equipped to handle a potential school shooting situation than our nation’s men and women in law enforcement, and the same holds true for retired officers. The legislation passed in the House today could go a long way towards protecting our students who are in school to learn, not become victims of violence.”