Last week, U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., showcased the “Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act.”
Introduced at the end of January, before the Parkland shooting, the proposal “would create a grant program to train students, teachers, school officials, and local law enforcement how to identify and intervene early when signs of violence arise, create a coordinated reporting system, and implement FBI & Secret Service-based school threat assessment protocols to prevent school shootings before they happen" and “would boost school efforts to develop violence prevention programs and coordinate with law enforcement to improve school.”
The bill has more than 25 cosponsors with U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., as one of the original cosponsors. Rutherford’s proposal would reauthorize the 2001 Secure Our Schools program and send $50 million to schools around the nation for school safety.
Rutherford, who served as sheriff of Duval County before being elected to the House, explained why he backed the proposal.
“As a career police officer and sheriff for 12 years in my hometown of Jacksonville, I know first-hand the importance of communities working together with their law enforcement agencies to keep people safe,” Rutherford said. “This bill invests in early intervention and prevention programs in our local schools, so that our communities and law enforcement can be partners in preventing violent events from happening. We need to give students, teachers, and law enforcement the tools and training they need to identify warning signs and to know who to contact when they see something that is not right.
“I know from my law enforcement experience that security requires a multi-layered approach. Our bill supports one very important layer of security for our schools. The best way to keep our students and teachers safe is to prevent violence from ever entering school grounds,” Rutherford added. “As I used to tell my community in Northeast Florida when I was sheriff: I don’t want to be the best first responder to a mass casualty event. I want to stop these horrific events before they ever occur.”
Rutherford and Deutch have rounded up most of the Florida delegation to back the proposal as Republican U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart, Matt Gaetz, Brian Mast, Bill Posey, Tom Rooney, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Dennis Ross and Democratic U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel, Al Lawson, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson are backing the bill.
At the start of last month, the House Judiciary Committee sent the bill to its Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee. So far, there is no Senate version.