The U.S. Department of Justice agreed to create a national campus safety center that would train agency personnel, encourage research, and disseminate relevant campus public safety information.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) said they were pleased to learn about the decision. Wolf and Scott have been working with the families and victims of the Virginia Tech massacre to create a center through Scott's Campus Safety Act.
The measure has strong support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and a companion bill, sponsored by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), recently advanced in the U.S. Senate.
Wolf, chairman of the subcommittee that funds the Justice Department, asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in January to reprogram existing monies to establish the center. Holder, in a letter this week to Wolf, said he would.
The VTV Family Outreach Foundation (VTV) today credited the bi-partisan coalition of Congressional leaders and Holder.
"The center will provide ongoing support to improve campus safety and is an essential part of the solution to the tragic violence that plagues our nation's campuses," said Joe Samaha, VTV president and father of Reema Samaha who was killed in the April 16, 2007 shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech.
The National Center for Campus Public Safety will strengthen collaboration by providing colleges and universities with consistent, high quality research, training and best practices on a comprehensive range of campus safety issues. Currently, campus public safety officers are the only first responders without a comprehensive federal support resource to share best practices, research and training, according to a DOJ release.
Holder also said the DOJ will use existing funds to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) records, National Record Improvement Program (NARIP) and the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP). He wrote that this "will improve the effectiveness of the background system and lead to a reduction in gun violence."
A separate letter today from Assistant Attorney General Judith Appelbaum to Wolf indicated that DOJ will include $14 million in grants to address the immediate gun safety issues, as well as $6 million in planned NCHIP grants and $5 million in NARIP grants. Further, Appelbaum said about $1 million from existing funding would be used to create the national center for public safety within the next 30 days.