Janesville42.7°

Federal money to boost school security

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
October 5, 2009
— Janesville public schools will get a smidgen of the hundreds of millions of dollars Congress is about to approve for police efforts nationwide.

The school district and police department here applied for $24,000, to be matched with $24,000 of school district money, to buy equipment.


The equipment would bolster existing efforts to prepare for an armed intruder, hazardous materials spill or other disaster.


The $48,000 would buy:


-- 89 two-channel radios, better known as walkie-talkies, for the elementary schools, middle schools and charter schools.


-- Two repeater networks for Parker High School to improve radio communication on school grounds. Walkie-talkies don't always reach all areas of the sprawling campus after the recent expansion project, said Deputy Chief Steve Kopp of the Janesville police, who worked on the grant.


-- 23 district-wide radios, one for each elementary, middle, high, and charter school, plus Van Galder Bus Co. These longer-range radios can communicate with the district office and among the schools during a crisis.


-- A security camera/door buzzer system at the TATE Center. TATE stands for Truancy Abatement and Transitional Education.


-- Three hallway cameras at Craig High School.


-- Eight "grab-and-go" kits, to be kept in classrooms at Washington Elementary School. This is a pilot project to see if these kits would be useful in an evacuation or lockdown. The kits would contain supplies and equipment such as flashlights, a bullhorn, light sticks, water pouches and calorie bars.


The equipment was identified as needed by a consultant who studied the district's emergency preparedness under another federal grant last year, Kopp said.


The money comes from the Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, programs.


Janesville is one of six Wisconsin cities that will split $790,503 in grants from the COPS Secure Our Schools program to buy school safety resources and equipment.


The Milwaukee Police Department will receive another $400,431 for the COPS Child Sexual Predator Program.


Sens. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold issued releases this week announcing the grants and their support for them.


Kohl introduced the Senate bill, COPS Improvement Act of 2009 with Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. The measure would authorize $1.15 billion per year over six years for COPS programs. The bill passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate.


COPS began under President Bill Clinton but was cut during the George Bush administration, which questioned its effectiveness. Police organizations have strongly supported the legislation.


Kohl said in a news release that the legislation would "re-establish Congress's commitment to local law enforcement by establishing the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services as a distinct office within the Department of Justice" and re-authorize police-hiring programs.


"The bill also reauthorizes funds for technology grants, community prosecutors and makes critical improvements to ensure efficient grant management and eliminate waste," Kohl said.



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