RICHMOND — Governor Ralph Northam announced today the award of grants totaling $1.265 million to localities throughout the Commonwealth that will fund school resource officer (SRO) and school security officer (SSO) positions at elementary, middle, and high schools. The grants were awarded at the June 14 meeting of the Criminal Justice Services Board (CJSB).
The grant funds came from the School Resource Officer/School Security Officer Incentive Grant Program, a program funded through state general funds. Grant applications were reviewed by the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and priority was given to schools without existing officers.
“Building and maintaining strong partnerships between local law enforcement agencies, local school divisions and local communities is critical to upholding Virginia’s commitment to keep our students safe,” said Governor Northam. “These positions will help schools and law enforcement work together to provide every child with the safe and healthy learning environment they need to succeed.”
“School resource officers exemplify successful community policing,” said Brian Moran, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security. “Officers serve as mentors to the students and foster positive relationships between the school and the law enforcement agency. This collaboration not only helps protect our children, but also our communities as a whole.”
“One of the key components to ensuring comprehensive school safety is an effective school resource officer,” said Atif Qarni, Secretary of Education. “This funding will greatly help schools partner with officers to promote safety of our students and schools.”
The Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety is housed within DCJS and serves as a resource and training center for information and research about national and statewide safety efforts and initiatives in K-12 schools and institutes of higher education.
“We saw a 75 percent increase in SRO/SSO applications this year from last year,” said Shannon Dion, Director of DJCS. “It is clear that law enforcement agencies and school administrators want SROs in schools. The Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety will continue to support the SRO/SSO programs by providing trainings and resources like the Model SRO Memorandum of Understanding.”
This year, DCJS and the Center received 63 applications School Resource Officer/School Security Officer Incentive Grant Program. The CJSB approved a total of 40 grants, which will fund 40 positions: 14 at elementary schools, 14 at middle schools, and 12 at high schools, including technical schools. Of the approved grants, 22 were new grants and 18 were continuations of prior grants from previous years.
Information on the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety and the localities receiving funding is available on the DCJS website, at www.dcjs.virginia.gov.