Legislation that could potentially place full-time security in every elementary, middle and high school in the U.S. was formally introduced in Naples by its sponsor, Florida Sen. Rick Scott.
In a special ceremony at the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Scott formally introduced his School Guardian Act, initially outlined last month following a shooting at a Nashville school.
The legislation creates a block grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice to support the hiring of one or more law enforcement officers to provide full-time security at every K-12 school in the country.
The bill looks to improve school safety with increased law enforcement and security measures following the multiple-fatal shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 and is endorsed by Stand with Parkland, the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Florida Police Chiefs Association.
“Following the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, five years ago, we worked hard to make significant changes and establish measures to increase law enforcement in schools,” Senator Rick Scott said.
“Thanks to this work, and the landmark legislation we passed, every public school in Florida has an armed police officer, sheriff’s deputy, or an individual who has completed the rigorous training to keep our students safe from harm. The recent shooting of innocent children and educators in Nashville showed us that we need to do better to keep our schools safe, and that starts by bringing effective ideas like our Guardian Program to every school across our nation. These brave individuals are willing and able to step up and protect our kids and teachers from those who wish to do them harm.”
The act will also:
- Create a block grant program administered by the U.S. Attorney General to provide federal funding to support the placement of armed law enforcement personnel at every K-12 school in the nation. This would be funded by reallocating currently unused portions of the $80 billion appropriated to the IRS in the Inflation Reduction Act.
- These block grants would be administered at the state level by a state’s chief law enforcement agency;
- All K-12 schools (both public and private) are eligible to participate in and benefit from this program; and
- Unused/unobligated portions of the block grant must be returned to DOJ by the state at the end of each fiscal year.
- Set forth reporting requirements from each state to the DOJ as well as an annual report from DOJ to Congress documenting the number of law enforcement officers hired using grant monies, as well as the total amount of unused funds returned by the states in the prior fiscal year, disaggregated by state.
“No family should have to go through the indescribable heartbreak of having their child or spouse murdered at school. It is essential that parents feel comfortable sending kids to school every day. Knowing their children are protected from danger with a specially selected and highly trained officer standing guard as this bill provides will help do that for all America’s families,” said Tony Montalto, president of Stand With Parkland – The National Association of Families for Safe Schools, one of several Parkland representatives attending.
“On behalf of Stand with Parkland, we are proud to endorse Senator Rick Scott’s School Guardian Act to help put trained law enforcement officers in every school. After the tragic shooting at Parkland, we worked closely with then-Governor Scott to make effective changes like this to keep Florida’s schools safe, and we’ve continued this fight to bring change across the nation.”
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