PORTLAND, Maine: The Department of Justice today announced nearly $126 million in funding to advance school safety under the STOP School Violence Act. The Maine Department of Education, Maine School Administrative District 30, covering the Town of Lee in rural Penobscot County, and the City of Bangor are among the grant recipients.
The grants, awarded by the Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), will help institute safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools, support school violence prevention efforts, provide training to school personnel and students, and implement evidence-based threat assessments.
“The Justice Department has no greater responsibility than protecting Americans from harm,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Schools must be safe places to learn, and today’s investment of more than $125 million under the STOP School Violence Act will help ensure that they are.”
The Students, Teachers and Officers Preventing School Violence Act of 2018 (the “STOP School Violence Act”) gives the Justice Department the authority to provide awards directly to states, units of local government, Indian tribes, and public agencies (such as school districts and law enforcement agencies) to improve security at schools and on school grounds through evidence-based school safety programs. It also provides grants to ensure a positive school climate by helping students and teachers recognize, respond quickly to, and help prevent acts of violence.
The 78 BJA annual awards, totaling almost $74 million, are intended to support training and education for school personnel and students on preventing violence against others and themselves, including anti-bullying training and specialized training for school officials to respond to mental health crises. Funds also help develop and implement multidisciplinary threat assessment or intervention teams and design technology solutions such as anonymous reporting systems, hotlines and websites.
The COPS School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) provides up to 75% of the funding for school safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools. The 153 SVPP awards, totaling almost $52 million, are statutorily obligated to be used for coordination with law enforcement; training for local law enforcement officers to prevent student violence; locks, lighting and other deterrent measures; technology for expedited notification of local law enforcement during an emergency; and other measures that provide a significant improvement in security.
The Maine Department of Education received a BJA award of $1,991,780. These funds will be utilized to enhance the development and implementation of Behavioral Threat Assessment teams in school districts across Maine. MSAD 30 received a BJA award of $266,963 and an additional SVPP award of $171,815. These funds will be used to deliver two evidence-based anti-violence training programs – the Sandy Hook Promise “Know the Signs” program and Youth Mental Health First Aid – to staff, administrators, and students. The City of Bangor received a BJA award of $30,749 to enhance the effectiveness of Behavioral Intervention Teams.
“Promoting the development and implementation of strategies to ensure safe and positive learning environments for Maine students is a priority for this office,” said U.S. Attorney Darcie N. McElwee. “I congratulate the Department of Education, MSAD 30, and the City of Bangor and look forward to supporting this critical work.”
“The Maine Department of Education is committed to protecting the safety of Maine students both inside and outside of school through restorative and proactive practices,” said Jonathan J. Shapiro, Director, Maine School Safety Center. “With this BJA grant, we will continue our highly sought-after Behavioral Threat Assessment Training Program, which trains staff to prevent school violence and identify supports needed to keep students positively engaged with their school community. We will also be able to expand additional programs that are dedicated to suicide awareness and prevention, and services for at-risk students. We thank all our partners at the local, county, state, and federal level for their ongoing support and partnership in our efforts to keep Maine students safe.”
The full list of SVPP awards can be found here. A list of BJA awards, as they are made, can be found here.
The COPS Office is the federal component of the Department of Justice responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. The only Department of Justice agency with policing in its name, the COPS Office was established in 1994 and has been the cornerstone of the nation’s crime fighting strategy with grants, a variety of knowledge resource products, and training and technical assistance. Through the years, the COPS Office has become the go-to agency for law enforcement agencies across the country and continues to listen to the field and provide the resources that are needed to reduce crime and build trust between law enforcement and the communities served. The COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 135,000 officers.
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.