March 5, 2018

Cassidy, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan School Safety Legislation

Washington, DC—U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), today joined Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Udall (D-NM), Dean Heller (R-NV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Doug Jones (D-AL), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Angus King (D-ME) in introducing the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act, bipartisan legislation to fund school security improvements and invest in early intervention and prevention programs to stop school violence before it happens.

“Schools and law enforcement need more resources to prevent violence and keep children safe,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Students should be focused on learning, not fearing for their safety. This bill makes schools more secure and saves lives.”

The legislation is supported by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and the Secure Schools Alliance, and authorizes the U.S. Department of Justice to make grants for the purposes of training students, school personnel, and law enforcement to identify signs of violence and intervene to prevent people from hurting themselves or others. In addition to prevention efforts, the legislation funds evidence-based technology and equipment to improve school security and prevent school violence. This includes the development of anonymous reporting systems and commonsense security infrastructure improvements. The legislation also provides funds for school threat assessment and crisis intervention teams to help schools intake and triage threats before tragedy strikes.

Following tragedies like Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and now Parkland, the federal government has funded short-term school safety initiatives focused on crisis response, active shooters, and physical infrastructure. While these are important investments, students, educators, and local law enforcement need the tools and support to take proactive and continuous steps toward improving school safety and security. The STOP School Violence Act reauthorizes and amends the 2001-2009 bipartisan Secure Our Schools Act. It would authorize $75 million for Fiscal Year 2018, and $100 million annually for the next 10 years, which may be partially offset from a DOJ research program called the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative.

“By providing critical resources to schools to strengthen their security infrastructure and train teachers, administrators, and law enforcement officers to intervene, we can save countless lives,” said Hatch. “As I noted on the Senate floor last week, putting these kinds of critical resources closer to students in Utah has led to incredible success, stopping 86 attacks in schools since 2016. I believe we can replicate that success on a national level with this commonsense, noncontroversial proposal.”

“The tragedy in Parkland was the direct result of a failure to communicate between law enforcement, the F.B.I., and Broward County Schools,” said Rubio. “The Stop School Violence Act, which was designed by Sandy Hook Promise, would help fix these shortcomings on a national level by driving collaboration between law enforcement and schools to help identify and stop dangerous and violent individuals before they act. This law has broad bi-partisan support in Congress. We should pass it as soon as possible.”

“Those tasked with protecting the lives of our schoolchildren should have access to the latest evidence-based safety training,” said Cornyn. “Preparing students, staff, and law enforcement to stop violence before it happens is critical for ensuring our schools are safe places to learn, and this legislation would help broaden the reach of these lifesaving programs.”

“I applaud Chairman Hatch for his leadership on this school safety legislation,” said McConnell. “Americans are united in wanting schools to ensure the safety and security of our children. We use a variety of security measures to protect workplaces and government buildings across America. We ought to be able to do the same to protect our children. I look forward to the Senate considering this legislation.”

“Students should not only feel safe at school, but they should be safe at school. We can go a long way in stopping school violence by making our schools less vulnerable to violent attacks and training our teachers, school administrators, and law enforcement in threat assessment and early intervention techniques. I’m glad to join Senator Hatch and this bipartisan group in a bill that will do exactly that,” said Grassley. “This is a commonsense bill that will better protect our schools from future tragedy and save lives.”

“This bipartisan legislation would provide tools and resources to law enforcement, teachers, and students to help prevent acts of violence in our schools before they start—but, it’s just one part of the solution,” said Klobuchar. “I believe we also need to pass a number of other safety measures related to guns, including universal background checks.”

“Thanks to the hard work of my friends Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden and their organization Sandy Hook Promise, this is a solid bill that’ll help schools recognize the signs of troubled young people and get them the help they need. But even they would tell you that stopping there would be a failure. If we are going to do something meaningful about these school shootings, we need to support programs that work, but also address how easy it is for kids to get their hands of powerful weapons,” said Murphy.

“This bipartisan bill arms teachers and students with knowledge and resources to stop school violence before it starts,” said Blumenthal. “Preventive measures like training teachers and students to recognize warning signs, and developing anonymous reporting systems are critical to ending school shootings and ensuring student safety. We must take every step possible to protect our children from gun violence.”

Here it is: “Providing our schools with the necessary training, technology and equipment is important to ensure our students and faculty have the necessary tools to help prevent school violence,” said Nelson. “What happened in Parkland last month must never happen again and this bill, like many other bipartisan proposals I’ve supported, is a commonsense measure that will help advance the conversation and congressional efforts around school safety and comprehensive gun reform.”

“We need to take action to protect our schools and stop the next Parkland or Aztec shooting from ravaging another American community,” said Udall. “This bipartisan legislation will provide key resources to schools and law enforcement to identify warning signs, strengthen school safety infrastructure, and take other concrete steps to stop school violence. I’m also glad to see that this bill includes important provisions to ensure that Tribes and Bureau of Indian Education schools have the tools they need to keep students and teachers safe in Native communities. This legislation is just one piece of a larger effort we must undertake to protect our communities from violence, including enacting common-sense measures to keep guns out of the hands of those who seek to hurt innocent people.”

“Every child deserves to feel safe in the classroom, and this bill is a positive step toward assuring Nevada’s kids – and their parents – that we are committed to supporting a coordinated effort to stop school violence,” said Heller. “This bill provides critical federal resources to implement early intervention programs, strengthen school security, and help train students, school personnel, and local law enforcement to identify threats and preempt attacks. I thank Chairman Hatch for his leadership, and I look forward to working with him to send this legislation to the President’s desk.”

“No student should be afraid to go to school and no parent should be afraid to send them,” said Stabenow. “The commonsense measures in this bill are the first of many steps we need to take to keep our children safe.”

“We can’t witness so many horrific shootings at schools and accept that we can’t do more to prevent them,” said Heitkamp. “The STOP School Violence Act is a bipartisan proposal that would help make schools safer by providing additional resources and funding based on evidence based proposals, and it’s part of an important conversation about common sense ways to protect our kids and keep our communities safe.”

“School violence—in any form—is a real tragedy and occurs too often among children and students today. What’s worse is knowing that many acts of violence in our schools could be prevented if students, teachers, administrators, and law enforcement all had the guidance and training they need to proactively improve school safety,” said Capito. “The STOP School Violence Act will provide resources to help build a coordinated response to school violence and put a stop to these tragedies before they happen.”

“Now is the time for Congress to work together to advance commonsense solutions that will make our schools and communities safer,” said Baldwin. “I’m urging my Congressional colleagues to support this bipartisan investment in early intervention and prevention, and to work together to find common ground on gun safety reforms to protect our children and save lives.”

“There is no one, simple fix for addressing acts of violence, but a focus on prevention is an imperative. In the aftermath of tragedy, we find ourselves looking back, identifying the signals for help that were overlooked. We need a more proactive approach to address the growing violence that we see in our society,” said Murkowski. “This legislation aims to help schools implement evidence-based programs that stop school violence before it happens. By equipping individuals with the tools, knowledge, and skills needed to identify warning signs, as well as implementing anonymous reporting systems for how to notify the proper authorities with potential threats, we are taking a step in the right direction. By being proactive, we all can be part of the solution and keep our students and teachers safe.”

“We must make sure schools have the resources they need to train law enforcement, students and faculty to detect signs of violence, and make sure the appropriate steps can be taken to stop it before it occurs,” said Brown. “This is one commonsense step we can take right now to boost safety in communities everywhere, and it must be part of a comprehensive, bipartisan conversation about other steps we can take to prevent these tragedies.”

“We have no higher responsibility than to protect our children,” said Jones. “This commonsense legislation is a first-step towards ensuring tragedies like Parkland, Florida are prevented by providing faculty and law-enforcement with the tools they need to identify warning signs and stop attacks from happening in their schools.”

“It is essential that we take steps to secure our schools so that students are protected and have a safe environment in which to learn,” said Collins. “This bipartisan legislation would help local communities fund new training, reporting systems, and security infrastructure to help enhance school safety.”

“Our children’s safety, well-being, and future must always come first,” said Ernst. “This bipartisan bill will provide our schools with additional resources to prevent senseless and tragic violence.  The STOP School Violence act will empower our states and local communities to take the steps they deem necessary to deter future threats and ensure our students, teachers and faculty can focus on what is most important at school – learning and growing.”