Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards joined State Police Col. Kevin Reeves and other education and law enforcement officials to announce that the first round of assessments by the Louisiana Blue Ribbon Commission on School Safety have been completed. The commission was created earlier this year to evaluate the safety measures currently in place and determine the steps necessary to improve school security.
“Evaluating and improving the safety of our schools is paramount for a successful school year, and it’s something all of us including our students, teachers, parents and communities are concerned about, “said Gov. Edwards. “The assessments were done strictly with the interest of working with our schools to strengthen the safety measures already in place and help provide additional resources when necessary. The high level of cooperation from superintendents around the state speaks to the seriousness with which they take this issue and their desire to work with us in making sure our schools are kept as safe as possible.”
The on-site assessments were conducted by Louisiana State Police (LSP), sheriffs, local law enforcement and the Louisiana Fire Marshal’s Office at public, private and charter schools. The evaluations began with high schools, of which nearly 100 percent are complete, and will continue with middle and elementary schools.
“The on-site assessments of our schools are a critical piece in maintaining situational awareness regarding the safety and security of students, faculty and staff,” stated Colonel Kevin Reeves, State Police Superintendent.
“This effort is only possible through the hard work and partnerships among State Police, Sheriffs, Police Chiefs, the State Fire Marshal and the school systems. We all have a vested interest in school security and the general safety of our communities as a whole. Additionally, an important byproduct of the assessments and the information learned are the relationships built and strengthened among public safety officials and educators involved in the process.”
With the assistance of stakeholders, LSP has successfully applied for two federal grants including the COPS School Violence and Prevention Program (SVPP). The SVPP will provide up to 75 percent funding for improved school safety measures that among other things will provide for improvement in security, coordination and training for local law enforcement officers, metal detectors and emergency technology. The Bureau of Justice Assistance STOP School Violence Threat Assessment and Technology Reporting Program will address the following:
- Training school personnel and students to prevent student violence
- Developing and operating anonymous reporting systems against threats of school violence, including mobile telephone applications (apps), hotlines, and websites.
- Developing and operating school threat assessments and crisis intervention teams to coordinate with local law enforcement.
- Specialized training for school officials in responding to individuals with mental health issues who may impact school safety.