WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Reps. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, and Brad Schneider, D-Deerfield, have introduced a bill calling for a pilot program through the Department of Justice to make panic buttons more available to local school systems.
The legislation, called the Securing Our Schools (SOS) Act, is supported by the National Sheriffs Association and the National Education Association.
“Response time is vitally important during emergency situations, and the SOS Act provides life-saving technology to contact first responders immediately when these incidents take place at schools,” said Bost. “This serves as both a deterrent from and front-line response to situations that place children and educators in harm’s way. As a father and a grandfather, I’m working to ensure our nation’s children are provided with a safe environment to grow and learn.”
“Every parent should have the confidence when they send their child off to school that he or she will return safely home,” said Schneider. “The bipartisan Securing Our Schools Act will improve the ability of educators to notify first responders in the event of an emergency to better protect the security of students, teachers, and faculty.”
“On behalf of more than 3,000 elected sheriffs, the National Sheriffs’ Association is proud to endorse the Securing Our Schools Act,” said Jonathan F. Thompson, executive director and CEO. “In a time when schools are vulnerable to threats, this bill helps law enforcement work effectively and efficiently to protect lives. I applaud the bipartisan efforts of Congressmen Bost and Schneider and look forward to working with them to ensure passage of this key legislation.”
The SOS Act would provide a more immediate method of notifying law enforcement and first responders in case of a medical emergency, active school shooter incident, or natural disaster. The legislation would authorize the DOJ to offer grants to local school districts for buying and installing SOS buttons in classrooms. Each grant awarded under the program would cover 75 percent of equipment purchase and installation costs (up to $200,000). School districts would provide the remaining 25 percent in matching funds.
— The Illinois Business Journal