SIA, ESA Express Support for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

The Electronic Security Association (ESA) and the Security Industry Association (SIA) are part of a community of security professionals unified by the mission of keeping people and property safe. Following inexplicable and senseless school security tragedies that occur far too often in this nation, most recently in Uvalde, Texas, we commit ourselves to support reasonable initiatives to protect young children who simply deserve a safe place to learn. We recognize that that there is not a single solution to preventing incidents of school violence, but our nation clearly needs to do more.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is one such measure that deserves support in Congress.

Our members support a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to bolstering school safety and security. Modern, effective security infrastructure is just one of many essential components to a comprehensive approach to school safety – but it’s a critical one. When other prevention efforts fail, measures that address security vulnerabilities can help deter, limit and enhance the response to school violence.

We all agree that schools should be the safest places children can be – safer than any other environments outside of their homes. Yet many schools still struggle with the cost of meeting security needs, as well as effectively implementing the right policies and procedures that are critical to the effectiveness of any security measure. People, process, training and technology are complementary components of an effective school security and violence prevention strategy.

Among its provisions, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act would increase assistance to schools investing in security improvements through the STOP School Violence Act by providing an additional $100 million for School Violence Prevention Program grants administered by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) over the next five years. This vital program continues to receive far more qualified applications than can be awarded with existing funding. This legislation proposes a 40% increase over current funding levels, which will help address critical needs identified by school districts. As part of a coalition of parent groups and organizations from the education, public safety and solutions provider communities, we have long advocated for bolstering assistance through DOJ school safety grants.

We also strongly support the inclusion of the Luke and Alex School Safety Act within this bipartisan measure. Named in honor of Luke Hoyer and Alex Schachter, two students killed in the 2018 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the Luke and Alex School Safety Act codifies the multiagency clearinghouse of school safety best practices and resources provided at SchoolSafety.gov, bolstering this work and ensuring it continues to grow and improve. This clearinghouse provides critical resources for implementing balanced, holistic school safety programs across a range of topics from mental health to school climate and emergency planning. Within physical security, SchoolSafety.gov includes the PASS Safety and Security Guidelines for K-12 Schools developed by the nonprofit Partner Alliance for Safer Schools. We strongly recommend that all schools and districts download and use these free guidelines as they develop, evaluate and seek the necessary funding to implement school safety programs.

In our view, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act takes meaningful steps that address both threats and vulnerabilities in our nation’s schools and communities. We urge Congress to swiftly pass this legislation, which will make our schools safer and ultimately save lives.

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    May / June 2022

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