Harrisburg, July 11, 2022 – With a record state investment in violence prevention spending in the new budget, state Sen. Jim Brewster announced today that he has been re-appointed to the School Safety and Security Committee, the chief conduit for intervention programs in the state.
“We’re at a critical time for public safety after a surge in violence that accompanied the pandemic,” Brewster said. “The School Safety and Security Committee played a central role in reviewing and assessing intervention and prevention efforts and steering state funds where it can be most effective.”
The 17-member committee was created through Act 44 of 2018 with a goal to craft policies and provide grants to curb school and community violence. The committee works under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).
In July 2019 Senator Brewster sent a letter to the committee asking them to establish baseline standards of safety for every school in the Commonwealth to keep students, teachers, and administrators safe. Specifically, he asked for them to establish physical baselines, including items such as door locks and cameras; mental health baselines, including school counselors and psychologists; and environmental baselines, including air quality monitors and lead/mold abatement.
“During my time on the School Safety Committee, I have been advocating for establishing baseline criteria to ensure we are best utilizing money,” Brewster said. “I am thrilled to see that for the first time the funds will be prioritized to get all schools to baseline.”
Last year, the state committed a record $30 million to the school safety effort, and this year’s state budget more than triples that amount to $105 million with the help of America Rescue Plan funds.
“To reduce community violence, we need to address the core causes,” Brewster said. “Poverty, mental health, and addiction are serious drivers of crime in our communities, and this committee is investing additional funds to address these issues.”
In awarding grants last year, Brewster said the committee took a broad approach to what it perceived as a complex issue with a wide range of causes. The committee funded the efforts of large academic institutions that study the problem from a data-driven level, as well as small, grassroots efforts with budgets in the thousands and feet on the street.
As a senator, Brewster has been at the forefront on school safety issues. His appointment was made by Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa.