“Guaranteeing a safe and secure environment in which to learn – free from violence – is critically important for our students.”

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – The state of Florida recently announced funding of School Violence Prevention Program across multiple counties in Florida. Two Tampa Bay area counties made that list.

U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announced Thursday that four school districts in the Middle District of Florida (MDFL) have received a total of $1,316,375 from the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP). Nationally, the COPS Office SVPP awarded nearly $50 million in school safety funding. SVPP provides up to 75% funding for school safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools and school grounds.

The two Bay area districts include the Hernando County School Board ($499,054); and the School District of DeSoto County ($150,000).

“Guaranteeing a safe and secure environment in which to learn – free from violence – is critically important for our students,” said Lopez. “These funds will assist our partners in creating and enhancing systems and procedures to reduce threats and violence in our schools.”

“With the new school year underway, the safety of our nation’s students remains paramount,” said COPS Office Director Phil Keith. “Although this school year may look different at the start, now is the ideal time to make preparations to enhance school safety for when all of our children are back in the classroom.”

The Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Act of 2018 (STOP School Violence Act of 2018) gave the COPS Office 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 in the jurisdiction of the grantee through evidence-based school safety programs.

The four awards announced Thursday can be used for coordination with law enforcement; training for local law enforcement officers to prevent student violence; metal detectors, 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.

You can view the full list of SVPP awards here.

In addition to the school safety grants, the COPS Office School Safety Working Group, which is composed of representatives from eight national law enforcement organizations, has identified 10 essential actions that can be taken by schools, school districts, and law enforcement agencies to help prevent critical incidents involving the loss of life or injuries in our nation’s schools and to respond rapidly and effectively when incidents do occur. The Ten Essential Actions to Improve School Safety are applicable to school shootings as well as to other areas of school safety, including natural disasters and traumatic events such as student suicide. Adopting policies and practices based on the recommendations in this publication can help make school communities safer and save lives.

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