“I apologize to the kids of this country that we haven’t done more to protect them. It’s our fault,” said Senator Boxer.
The apology set the stage for the Senator to announce her new bill expected to hit the senate floor next month. The bipartisan bill would authorize $40 million every year for safety improvement to local schools. Named the School and Campus Safety Enhancements Act expands the Secure Our Schools Grant Program. The program is designed to help create resources for a safer learning environment.
“Schools could install better locks, classroom lighting and reinforced doors,” explained Senator Boxer.
San Diego Unified School District has already benefited from the Save Our Schools Grants. $1.2 million helped the district to purchase security cameras in several San Diego schools that are directly linked to local police.
“What we wanted to do was create a culture of emergency preparedness,” said Chief Ruben Littlejohn, San Diego Unified School District Police. “Having those monitored are key in our success.”
San Diego Police and school district police have plans to expand the system. Senator Boxer’s bill would provide more federal funding and at a local level.
“If we need cameras, we can do that. If we need police officers at a given school, we can use it for that,” said Mayor Bob Filner.
“It’s up to the schools. It’s up to the mayors to write their own plan,” said Boxer.
According to the Senator, San Diego gets an A+ when it comes to security.
“I hope that people will look at this school district and recognize we have to do more to protect our kids,” said Boxer.
Local leaders agreed.
“We have a plan in place. We have a lockdown procedure,” said San Diego Police Chief William Landsdowne.
“I have no hesitancy with my own grandchildren,” said Mayor Filner. “I think our children are safe.”
In addition to funding, the Senator’s bill also helps schools conduct security assessments and even forms a task force that will establish safety guidelines.
It also contains a component that addresses college and university campuses.
“I’m optimistic that we can definitely change things I really am,” said Senator Boxer.