Rep. Tom Rooney: “We Have Failed in Our Duty to Keep Our Kids Safe”
Washington, D.C. – In the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting that left 17 students and teachers dead and dozens injured earlier this week, Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17) pushed for significant increases in federal funding for enhanced school security measures and youth mental health programs in the upcoming funding bills for 2018.
Rooney, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement:
“My heart is broken over the news of the shooting in Parkland this week. As a father to three children of my own, I cannot fathom what it must be like to send your child off to school and plan their funeral all in the same day,” Rooney said.
“As details surrounding the shooting have emerged, it has become clear to me we have a lot of work to do. As lawmakers, people expect us to act to stop this needless bloodshed and violence. Congress can – and should – immediately work in a bipartisan way to provide ample federal resources to help make sure that no one wishing to commit these mass atrocities can even step foot inside a school. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had a school resource officer on campus, but it is obvious just one resource officer is not enough. That’s why I am requesting increased federal funding for the federal COPS Hiring Program to make sure state and local law enforcement entities can put school resource officers in every corner of every school.
“We also need to prioritize identifying and treating children with serious emotional issues and mental illnesses. The Parkland shooter showed all the signs of someone who was immensely disturbed and clearly posed a threat to human life. If he had been treated for these problems earlier, or had federal authorities appropriately heeded these warnings, maybe this terrible incident could have been prevented. If one thing is clear to me, it’s that we have failed in our duty to keep our kids safe. They cannot wait in fear for our help any longer. Now is the time for us to act.”
As the House and Senate finalize the 2018 Appropriations bills, Rooney is advocating for additional funding provided under the Bipartisan Budget Act to help state and local education and law enforcement officials develop and implement more rigorous and effective security measures to protect our schools. Rooney is seeking increased funds for the following federal programs:
- COPS Hiring Grants – Increased funds for this program would expand the pool of eligible grant awardees and allow state and local law enforcement entities to hire additional School Resource Officers (SROs).
- Comprehensive School Safety Initiative – This initiative produces a research-based framework to improve school safety in K-12 public schools across the nation. Increased funding would enable the program to move beyond the research and pilot stage and direct funds to schools to implement a comprehensive framework for school safety.
- Community Mental Health Block Grants and Local Educational Agency Grants – Increased funding will improve treatments for children with serious emotional disturbances, including persons up to age 18 who have a diagnosable behavioral, mental, or emotional issue. Department of Education grants help schools train their teachers and staff to use evidence-based behavioral intervention strategies to improve school climate and reduce bullying.