With Lee County announcing its intention earlier this month to become the first school system in Virginia to arm teachers, partly because it’s cheaper than hiring officers, Gov. Ralph Northam’s office says an additional $1.3 million is available in grants for police and security.
“Ensuring the safety of Virginians, especially of our youth, is a core function of government. It is important that we take sensible approaches to increasing security,” Northam said.
Localities can apply to the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety, housed within the Department of Criminal Justice Services, for a one-time, 12-month grant to pay for school resource officers and school security officers.
The department has made the money available earlier than usual and has increased the amount of money for individual school resource officer and security positions. Localities can also provide in-kind services to meet match requirements, intended to make the money more accessible.
“Over the past several months, we have heard from our public safety, school, and mental health professionals, as well as parents and students, about the critical role SROs and SSOs play in our schools. We have also heard about the challenges some localities face in funding these positions,” said Brian Moran, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security.
Virginia policymakers have been grappling with how to increase school security in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
Information on the grant program can be found here.