United Way, Fort Valley State receive STOP Violence Act grants

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Dec. 26—MACON — Fort Valley State University was awarded $1,999,997 — among the largest single grants awarded — and the United Way of Southwest Georgia in Albany received $991,110 in FY 2021 STOP School Violence Act grants, part of the Department of Justice's nearly $126 million in funding to advance school safety under the STOP School Violence Act.

The grants, awarded by the Office of Justice Programs' Bureau of Justice Assistance and the department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, will help institute safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools, support school violence prevention efforts, provide training to school personnel and students, and implement evidence-based threat assessments.

"The Justice Department has no greater responsibility than protecting Americans from harm," Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a news release. "Schools must be safe places to learn, and today's investment of more than $125 million under the STOP School Violence Act will help ensure that they are."

"Fort Valley State University will receive one of the largest single grants awarded under this year's STOP School Violence Act, money that will be used to bolster the safety of students and staff at one of our key educational institutions in the Middle District of Georgia," U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said. "The United Way of Southwest Georgia's nearly $1 million grant is earmarked for school safety measures where it is most needed in the communities it serves.

"We are thankful that the Justice Department has invested heavily in strengthening the safety of our region as our office continues to work closely with our law enforcement and community partners to do everything in our power to decrease violence across the Middle District of Georgia."

The Students, Teachers and Officers Preventing School Violence Act of 2018 (the "STOP School Violence Act") gives the Justice Department the authority to provide awards directly to states, units of local government, Indian tribes, and public agencies (such as school districts and law enforcement agencies) to improve security at schools and on school grounds through evidence-based school safety programs. It also provides grants to ensure a positive school climate by helping students and teachers recognize, respond quickly to and help prevent acts of violence.

The 78 BJA annual awards, totaling almost $74 million, are intended to support training and education for school personnel and students on preventing violence against others and themselves, including anti-bullying training and specialized training for school officials to respond to mental health crises. Funds also help develop and implement multidisciplinary threat assessment or intervention teams and design technology solutions such as anonymous reporting systems, hotlines and websites.

The COPS School Violence Prevention Program provides up to 75% of the funding for school safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools. The 153 SVPP awards, totaling almost $52 million, are statutorily obligated to be used for coordination with law enforcement; training for local law enforcement officers to prevent student violence; locks, lighting and other deterrent measures; technology for expedited notification of local law enforcement during an emergency; and other measures that provide a significant improvement in security.

The COPS Office is the federal component of the Department of Justice responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. The only Department of Justice agency with policing in its name, the COPS Office was established in 1994 and has been the cornerstone of the nation's crime fighting strategy with grants, a variety of knowledge resource products, and training and technical assistance.

Through the years, the COPS Office has become the go-to agency for law enforcement agencies across the country and continues to listen to the field and provide the resources that are needed to reduce crime and build trust between law enforcement and the communities served. The COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 135,000 officers.

The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation's capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.

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