Through a $1,000,000 grant provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Criminal Justice Institute’s (CJI) Arkansas Center for School Safety (ACSS) will expand the development and implementation of comprehensive safety and security programs to school districts across the State. The funding is part of BJA’s grant program—Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act Program: Technology and Threat Assessment Solutions for Safer Schools Program. This Department of Justice program supports and assists states in improving efforts to reduce violent crime in schools.

Through the Arkansas Center for School Safety’s BJA grant award, both online and face-to-face threat assessment training and resources will be made available to help districts enhance or develop threat assessment teams to recognize, respond quickly, and help prevent acts of violence. Basic and advanced threat assessment training will be delivered regionally. To further facilitate school districts in the development of comprehensive school safety plans, hands-on site safety audit and Youth Mental Health First Aid training will be provided. In addition, basic and advanced academies will be developed and implemented for school safety coordinators and other members of district safety and security teams. Finally, while this grant does not provide funding for the current operations of ACSS, it does expand the availability of all of the Center’s programs to private schools across the State.

“This funding will provide the Center with the opportunity to assist Arkansas schools in developing and appropriately training behavior threat assessment teams and reducing the potential for violence,” says Dr. Cheryl May, Director of the Criminal Justice Institute. “I am personally very grateful to U.S. Senator John Boozman for continuing to be a strong advocate for the Center, and also grateful to U.S. Senator Tom Cotton and U.S. Congressmen Steve Womack, French Hill, Bruce Westerman, and Rick Crawford for their valuable support. As always, I am truly appreciative of Governor Asa Hutchinson for his continued financial support of the Center. Their commitment to creating safe and secure school environments will help ensure our kids have every opportunity to reach their academic potential.”

“This grant will allow Arkansas school districts to implement safety strategies that meet their unique needs and help ensure lifesaving knowledge and resources are available in order to prevent school violence,” said U.S. Senator John Boozman. “Empowering schools with additional tools to develop security measures will improve wellbeing for students and personnel.”

“I’m pleased that the Department of Justice has recognized the important work of the Arkansas Center for School Safety and the Criminal Justice Institute, and I am proud of Dr. May and her team for their hard work on this effort,” said Dr. Donald R. Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System. “School safety training has become a critical need for districts across Arkansas, and this support will help ensure that more school officials are exposed to this important program. This is just another example of why CJI is a valued member of the UA System and how the Institute is positively impacting law enforcement training and public safety across our state.”