Barbara Boxer introduces school-safety bills

Even as one of California’s U.S. Senators was busy today introducing a new federal assault weapons ban bill, the other was introducing three bills to strengthen school safety – including efforts that jibe with calls for more armed guards in schools.

“We owe it to our children and our grandchildren to ensure that they are safe when they are at school,” U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said in a news release. “This legislation would give local communities and schools that want to strengthen security the opportunity for new resources and tools to help keep students safe.”

The School Safety Enhancements Act would strengthen and expand the Justice Department’s existing COPS Secure Our Schools grants program, providing schools with more money to install tip lines, surveillance equipment, secured entrances and other important safety measures.

The program now requires a 50 percent local match, but Boxer’s bill would let the Justice Department reduce the local share to 20 percent for schools with limited resources. The bill also creates a joint task force between the Justice Department and the Education Department to develop new school safety guidelines, and would boost the Secure Our Schools authorization from $30 million to $100 million.

The School Resource and Safety Officer Act would use community policing strategies to prevent violence and improve student safety by making grants available for local governments to put trained, sworn career law enforcement officials at schools. Cities and school districts that meet the requirements could receive grants of up to $200,000 for each “School Resource and Safety Officer.”

The Save Our Students (SOS) Act would let the federal government reimburse governors who want to use National Guard troops to help ensure that our nation’s schools are safe. It’s modeled after a successful National Guard program in place since 1989 that lets governors use guardsmen to aid law enforcement efforts related to drug interdiction activities; under this bill, guardsmen could support local law enforcement efforts to keep schools safe, such as helping with security upgrades or relieving local police so officers can do more patrols at schools.

Boxer noted the National Guard has said it is “particularly well suited for domestic law enforcement support missions” because it is “located in over 3,000 local communities throughout the nation, readily accessible, routinely exercised with local first responders, and experienced in supporting neighboring communities.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    I’d feel so much safer with the national guard patrolling our streets.

    Even better would be the 101st Airborne.

    Who pulled Baba BooBoo’s chain and woke her up, anyway?

  • JohnW

    Using the NG as security guards in schools is a terrible idea. They aren’t trained to do what School Resource Officers do. Soldiers standing guard in camouflage and holding M-16’s would be a misuse of them and a bad message to students. Deploying them for a “surge” in the hot spots of Oakland is another matter.