On a vote of 14-4, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday passed U.S. Sen. Mark Warner’s bipartisan CAMPUS Safety Act, which would consolidate federal campus safety efforts into the National Center for Campus Public Safety.
The Center would be authorized to issue grants to institutions of higher education and other nonprofit organizations to strengthen training and research initiatives and improve collaboration. In addition, K-12 schools would have access to resources provided through the Center.
Currently, campus public safety officers are the only first responders without a comprehensive federal support resource to share best practices, research and training.
“The CAMPUS Safety Act creates a one-stop shop for quality research that will allow us to share best practices from around the country,” Sen. Warner said in a news release. “In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre and violence at campuses across the country, we should be able to take commonsense steps to make sure we are providing the safest possible campus environment. This legislation will help keep our students safe and will not create any new spending or add to the deficit. I’m encouraged to see such strong bipartisan support for this bill in the Judiciary Committee today, and look forward to building more support as it heads to the Senate floor."
The CAMPUS Safety Act has passed the House of Representatives in previous years under the leadership of Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA-3) and has been introduced in this Congress by Fairfax Station Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA-10) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7). The legislation will now move to the full Senate for a vote.
Joe Samaha is president of the VTV Family Outreach Foundation. “The Center will afford colleges and universities much needed resources to help better protect their campuses from violence,” he said. “Today’s bipartisan action moves us one step closer and gives me hope that the lives of those lost at our nation’s educational institutions, including my daughter Reema on April 16, 2007, will have a lasting meaning in protecting future students and educators.”
“How many times do we have to look at tragedies such as Virginia Tech or Newtown before we make a commitment to the safety of our campuses?” asked Anne Glavin, Chief of Police at Cal. State Northridge and President of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. “I cannot look at the parents of a victim of campus violence and say we cannot afford to work to make your children safer. We all can do more, should do more and that includes this modest federal commitment. It just makes sense.”
In addition to the campus safety provisions, the bill would also reauthorize the Secure Our Schools grant program which will help provide for security-related capital improvements at K-12 schools, such as classroom locks, lighting, fencing, reinforced doors and other deterrent measures.