U.S. Representative Steve Rothman, (D-Fair Lawn), has represented New Jersey’s 9th Congressional District since 1997 and sits on the House Appropriations Committee
In recent weeks, Americans have witnessed more school shootings-in Colorado, Wisconsin, Missouri and Pennsylvania. Every time these tragedies make headlines, there is a call for action. While there are many steps that we can take, there is already a federal law and funding available to help keep our local schools and our schoolchildren safe.
In 2000, along with my friend Congressman Henry Hyde (R-IL), I authored Secure Our Schools – a federal matching grant program for the purchase of school security equipment and for the security training of local school personnel. The bill passed the House and Senate and was then signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 28, 2000.
Secure Our Schools is administered by the Office of Community Oriented Policing (COPS) in the Department of Justice. These grants help towns cover the cost of school safety measures, such as metal detectors, locks, lighting, and other crime prevention tools. They also fund security assessments, training for students, teachers, and administrators, coordination with local law enforcement, and other actions that significantly improve school safety.
Since its first year of funding in 2002, $50 million dollars has been distributed to 48 states under the Secure Our Schools program. More specifically, 756 local law enforcement agencies and municipalities have partnered with over 1,300 schools nationwide to participate in this program to ensure the safety of their local schoolchildren.
In New Jersey, nearly 80 Secure Our School grants have been awarded to our law enforcement agencies and school districts. Those grants were worth over $6 million and helped secure 160 schools.