Rep. Josh Gottheimer unveiled the Alyssa’s Legacy in School Safety Alert (ALYSSA) Act, a bipartisan nationwide safety bill for schools.
The bill, named after former Woodcliff Lake’s resident Alyssa Alhadeff, comes on the third anniversary of the Parkland Shooting in Parkland, FL, in 2018 where Alhadeff was murdered at the age of 14. Gottheimer was joined by Lori and Ilan Alhadeff, the parents of Alyssa, in announcing the proposed legislation.
The bill would require silent panic alarms in all schools alerting law enforcement during active shooter situations. Additionally, it would increase investment in School Resource Officers (SROs).
New Jersey Example
“We are here today to honor Alyssa and turn her memory, and the pain her family and friends carry every day, into action,” said Gottheimer in a press briefing to announce the proposed law. “The bipartisan legislation—the ALYSSA Act—(will) help protect children, like Alyssa, and all students, in the one public place they should feel safest: their schools.”
The legislation, co-sponsored with Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), is similar to a bill passed in the Garden State in February 2019. That legislation, championed by the Alhadeff family as well, required all New Jersey public schools to install the silent panic alarms. The ALYSSA Act would expand that requirement to the nation’s 98,000 public schools.
Lori Alhadeff expressed her gratitude to the lawmakers for bringing the bill to Washington, advocating to make the panic button the next standard level of school protection in schools.
“Getting panic buttons in schools across the country, bringing this standard level of protection to every school…..is so vitally important in saving lives,” said Lori. “We need to empower our teachers to push a button directly linking to law enforcement so that they can get on the scene to take down the threat or triage the victims.”
Gottheimer is pushing the bill to address a gap in security across the U.S.—according to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 29% of school report using these types of alarms.
Under the ALYSSA Act, all schools that receive federal funding under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act would be required to install the silent alarms, which could average $1,000 per school.
Expanding School Access to SROs
Additionally, the act would cut federal red-tape to invest in SRO training programs that specially-designated and trained the officers for the job.
Gottheimer noted funding for SROs are available under the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, but the funding was not a guaranteed funding stream to ensure access of SROs to all schools across the nation.
Under the ALYSSA Act, investment to bring SROs to school would not need to meet additional standards from the Department of Justice.
“Together, with silent alarms in every school directly connected to local law enforcement agencies and with School Resource Officers at more schools around the country, we are taking concrete steps to help further protect our children in their schools,” he said.