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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

145 N Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20530

August 2019 | Volume 12 | Issue 7

As parents throughout our country turn their attention to school supplies, schedules, and other necessities for their children, school safety is at the back of many minds. For law enforcement too, it is a great concern, especially for those who are parents themselves.

It is also an ongoing concern of the COPS Office as we continue our efforts to identify the most effective practices for not only responding to problems, but preventing them—and in so doing, creating an environment in which students can feel safe and families can enjoy peace of mind.

We recently cohosted a forum called Critical Topics in School Safety with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). Speakers from various backgrounds—including parents, teachers, and experts in the field of school safety—discussed a wide range of issues, lessons learned, critical security gaps, and the resources necessary to bridge them.

Through their insights and experiences, we gained a greater understanding of the wide range of school safety concerns, enabling us to enhance the effectiveness of the initiatives we support. Both the COPS Office and the BJA support grant programs funded though the STOP School Violence Act. Among them is the COPS School Violence Prevention Program, which funds a variety of school safety enhancements, including law enforcement training, equipment, and technology.

In 2018, the program awarded nearly $25 million to fund safety improvements in more than 5,300 K-12 schools, improving the security of more than three million students. This year, the COPS office is providing an additional $25 million to fund further safety enhancements. These will include training for law enforcement officers to prevent student violence, metal detectors and other deterrents, technology for expedited notification of local law enforcement during an emergency, and other evidence-based measures that can provide a significant improvement in security.

In addition to hosting forums on student, school, and campus safety, the COPS Office awards funding for school resource officers (SRO) via our COPS Hiring Program (CHP) grants, and for SRO training through a partnership with National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO). 

The COPS Office has also formed the School Safety Working Group. Made up of representatives from national law enforcement organizations, the group seeks to foster ongoing engagement among law enforcement, school officials, and mental health professionals while also identifying promising practices for school safety and security. In the fall, it will publish a guide for schools, school districts, and law enforcement on the 10 steps essential to preventing mass casualty attacks, and responding to them rapidly and effectively.

Numerous other support materials, including guidebooks and publications on topics such as responding to school and campus emergencies, determining appropriate campus public safety staffing levels, preventing bullying, and managing the aftermath of a mass casualty event are also available on the COPS Office Web site under the Resources tab.

The safety and wellbeing of our nation’s schools, campuses, students, and teachers is a high priority for the COPS Office, and we will continue to do everything we can to support practices, programs, research, and other efforts that help local government and law enforcement accomplish this.

– Director Keith

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