$25 Million US COPS SVPP School Security Funding Examined

By: Dan Gelinas, Published on Jul 24, 2018

The US Congress has authorized the School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) to fund various security measures and training to mitigate active shooting. $25 million is available and the deadline to apply is next Monday.

IPVM examines:

  • What Is Covered
  • What School Districts Need To Do
  • Why It Is Effectively Too Late To Start Now
  • Who Makes The Decision
  • How Is The Decision Made
  • How Many Schools Will Win
  • What Manufacturers Are Doing

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How **** ******* ***? ** *********

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**** ***** ********** **** IPVM:

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Manufacturer *********

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Comments (25)

If this program, or similar ones, catch on, I could see "violence prediction analytics" becoming an ISC West Best of Show product (and then, never to be heard from again).

That is a good catch, and something we heard about from Reconasense (IPVM Reconasense Profile), where they are tracking in school student behavior and student peer relationships to potentionally alert school administrators and parents for intervention or developing IEP/504 Plans for a student. They were not offering video analytics to identify violent behaviors, or gun detection in trenchcoats, etc.

There are software applications focused on student behavior tracking that are marketed directly to schools, and not focused on physical security, like LiveSchool, Hero, or Kickboard, just to name a few.


Kinda "Minority Report"'-ish.


From the Motorola campaign: "Access Control solutions specifically designed for schools also assist in controlling who enters campus buildings."

Controlling who enters buildings is the primary goal of any access control system.

What makes their solution different from the competition?

Seems like typical marketing write up really. I doubt their solution is much different from the competition (I have no experience with the avigilon access control), but they just wanted to include the fact they have access control as well.

On 09JUL2018 I attended a Congressional Sub-Committee hearing on “Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications” held by Representative Dan Donovan (R-NY) and ranking member Donald Payne (NJ-10).  The two congressmen questioned members of two panels on what is being done to better protect our schools and how the federal government can help with that process. 

The first panel consisted of officials from Department of Homeland Security, Department of Education and Department of Justice.  Members of the first panel testified about the financial and expert resources available from these federal agencies.

The second panel included officials from the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness - State of New Jersey; Office of School Preparedness and Emergency Planning -  Department of Education, State of New Jersey; Division of Human Resources Section - New Jersey State Police; New Jersey Association of School Resource Officers, and Community Education Council 31 -  Staten Island, New York.  The second panel was asked if they were able to access the two billion dollars that has been set aside to improve school security.  Members of the second panel testified to the training and exercises that are being conducted to better prepare for an “All Hazard” event that may occur on our K-12 or Higher Education campuses.

During his opening remarks Congressman Donovan made it clear that 2 Billion dollars are available for School Safety improvements.  The problem is the process to apply for, and receive those funds is unclear.

"The Fiscal Year 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act provided more than $2 billion in funding for grants that can be used to enhance the security of our schools: through the Title IV (4) grants at the Department of Education, STOP School Violence Act grants at the Department of Justice, or Homeland Security Grant Program at the Department of Homeland Security." "Quote from Dan Donovan's opening statement"

After listening to the testimony I was surprised that the technology sector was not represented.  Unfortunately in most cases technology is considered a forensic tool to evaluate what happen, or a detection tool to alert that something is taking place.  I believe that technology, when properly applied, can be "weaponized" during any "All Hazard" event and dramatic improve the outcomes.  Parkland is a classic example of delayed EMS response because no one knew the assailant had left the building.  Our industry needs to have the uncomfortable conversations with our clients about the "what if's" and show them how technology can and should be part of the planning and response protocols associated with the school violence epidemic or any hostile event.  I believe that technology can be part of the 3 D's... Deter, Detect and yes... DEFEND!  To do that we (our industry) must understand Critical Incident Response.  

Jerry G Wilkins, PSP®

Active Risk Survival, Inc

Tactically Aware, Technically Competent®


Anyone else but me find it objectionable that govt funds are only made available specifically to our industry when something really bad has already happened?

9/11 spawned DHS infrastructure grants - $2-3B/yr for many years following the attacks.

While not one isolated incident, school shootings have now spawned the $2B in govt grants made available that Jerry mentions.

An uninterested observer might legitimately come to the conclusion that the govt doesn't really give 2 sh*ts about actual security, but will spend billions after the fact to try and show that they do.



#2, while I think your point is reasonable, I am not sure what the alternative really is. 

At some fundamental level, security is a defensive tactic. You implement as you recognize and respond to specific attacks. It would not make much sense to do it beforehand.

Here is a graph of school shootings over time:

Image result for graph school shooting

As a matter of public policy, it is understandable to spend more on security as demonstrable risks rise.

You can't secure everything so you need to figure out where to focus / spend. Agree/ disagree?

"You can't secure everything so you need to figure out where to focus / spend."

So the answer is, you figure out where to spend govt security funds based on individual events?  How does that make sense if security was your goal to begin with?

Spending billions of $$ on 'security' efforts after the fact - that seek to prevent future scenarios like the one (or many) that spawn the spend in the first place - are nothing more than feel-good efforts that - statistically - will have no bearing at all on actual security. 

"As a matter of public policy, it is understandable to spend more on security as demonstrable risks rise."

The odds that School A will get shot up do not increase because someone shot up School B.

Risk is a constant, not a variable based on individual events. Therefore risk should be managed - even without actual events somewhere else that underscore that risk. 

Risk is a constant, not a variable based on individual events

The pattern of individual events of the past decade shows that school shootings are a higher risk and greater threat than they have been.

Spending billions of $$ on 'security' efforts after the fact

It is 'after the fact' of the ones that have already come but it would imprudent to expect that suddenly, without any interaction, that the 'individual events' would not continue.


"The pattern of individual events of the past decade shows that school shootings are a higher risk and greater threat than they have been."

So the actual risk of any school being shot up has increased from what...  0.00001% to 0.0001%?

That is the basis for the additional spend?



So the actual risk of any school being shot up has increased from what... 0.00001% to 0.0001%?

There have been 40 students killed in the US in 2018 H1, per Wikipedia's records. Ther are some 50 million total students.

The math does work out something like that. I doubt most Americans are going to just shrug it off with that rejoinder. I would not be comfortable myself.

Now, whether $25 million for school security is the right solution vs gun control or other options is a difficult debate.

Following that train of thought when a plane crashes everyone loses their minds and demand changes to improve safety. Now if we lay those passenger numbers along side of death by road travel then cars should be banned completely as ridiculously unsafe.


It is all about the spin and to whom it serves.


School safety is unreachable with the minds in charge still stuck in the 50's and let us not forget that schools were designed and built to be open places and security starts at the perimeter.

They are confusing today's schools with prisons, which with the education provided nowadays it will prepare our youth for their future behind bars. They grew up in one so it will feel familiar.

Educators are not security people and then there are the budgets......

The probability percentage analogy is interesting however if you use that thought process why do most school systems do fire drills every month.  There has not been a fatal fire in a US school since 1958.  I believe every school should have a comprehensive Emergency Operation Plan (EOP).  The EOP should include Annex's for each threat surface/vector that is identified as part of a comprehensive risk assessment.  To not consider Active Shooter as a potential threat is irresponsible.  Finally, one of the key considerations in an Risk Assessment is impact/consequence.  

The probability analogy just underscores my original position above - that increased spending based entirely on headlines vs spending based on actual risk is the flawed part of the equation.

"why do most school systems do fire drills every month. There has not been a fatal fire in a US school since 1958."

great example.  and I agree.  but fire is a risk that must be mitigated just like active shooters should already be.

Risk exists outside of probability analogies - and is no more increased than decreased based on another entity experiencing the bad side of that risk; actual incidents.

The unfortunate part of this story is most schools have invested in some level of electronic countermeasures (video, access control, IDS and Mass Notification).  The systems are installed... deal done.  Schools are conducting tabletops, drills and exercises and not leveraging the technology that is already in place as part of their critical incident response procedures.  To insure I understood the problem I took TECC training, Solo Engagement training, Incident Command training and Active Shooter Instructor training.  With each training I took I realized that our industry (me included) provide technology but, because we (as an industry) don't understand critical incident response we cannot effectively show the client how to integrate the technology we provide in the existing critical incident response procedures.  In a critical incident we do not rise to the occasion we fall to our level of training and preparation.  I believe, a basic understanding of NIMS, ICS and existing regulatory guidance like NFPA-3000, OSHA 3148 and The Inter-agency Security Committee Mandates and Best Practices are essential if we are going to stop selling stuff and start selling Electronic Counter Measures that can be leveraged to improve outcomes during critical incidents.  We rarely talk to our clients about their WHY we talk about our HOW and WHAT.  The client's WHY is Risk mitigation whether the risk is tangible or intangible (liability). The basic risk equation is:


R= Risk

T= Threat

V= Vulnerability

I = Impact

C= Countermeasure (What our industry sells)



"We rarely talk to our clients about their WHY we talk about our HOW and WHAT. The client's WHY is Risk mitigation whether the risk is tangible or intangible (liability)."

hmmm.  not sure I can agree with this argument.

If this was true, then how could manufacturer sales people ever convince anyone to pull out their wallet and spend on HOW and WHAT - if they aren't being sold on - or perceive - the WHY?

The WHY is inherent in any exchange of goods or services and customer cash...

the transaction simply does not occur without at least some understanding of the WHY - whether on target or misguided.

"If this was true, then how could manufacturer sales people ever convince anyone to pull out their wallet and spend on HOW and WHAT - if they aren't being sold on - or perceive - the WHY?"

The sale is made for the technology however the full capabilities are not considered.  If you review the AAR from Parkland the video was an afterthought.  


There are a bunch of hazards I want to protect the kids from, but, realistically speaking, we'll never get the funding to protect against them all. But every time something tragic happens, funding appears to protect my kids against that particular hazard, and I'd be a fool not to take advantage of it. 

You know what's less scary than a bunch of hazards? A bunch of hazards minus one. 

Yes, a panel of specialists assigning funding for hazard mitigation based on (likelihood) + (potential loss) would be best, but we don't live in a perfect world full of rational taxpayers and competent politicians, do we. We work with what we have. So we're going to go with (hazard) - (most recent tragedy) instead. 

Some costly active threat mitigations can mitigate other threats too. That's where the value is. Too bad I don't have time to apply for this funding this year. 

What are the other threats that you can mitigate with more money?

And if they are indeed threats, why do you need to wait for a bad event somewhere else to hit the news cycle to get govt to spend money on what you already know are unmitigated threats?

This was the point of my first post above... I'm not saying that securing places is not important.  Quite the contrary.

I simply think that govt decision-making on how they spend the $billions should be tied to reality and not CNN reports.

Oh, absolutely. If Uncle Sugar wants to turn on the money spigot this year, I'm absolutely going to use it as smart as I can, and that means implementing a multi-use security solution that can help mitigate as many hazards as I can think of, while writing a grant app that explains how exactly why and how the thing I want to buy is the perfect solution to the problem that the government cares about this month. 

Just a couple of points to consider. 

1. Better securing schools is no different then better securing any place where people gather.  Over all the number of violent events in this country are getting worse not better.  For a hostile event to be classified as an Active Shooter or Active Killer the body count must exceed (3).  There are violent events occurring in our schools and businesses every day however we have become desensitized to these events.   There are a number of "Best Practices" or "Standards of Care" that have clear guidelines on how to prepare for, respond to and recover from those types of events.  Unfortunately the guidelines do not clearly define the use of technology and the impact technology can have on the outcome.

2. Federal Grant Money... I see things made in the USA but not made by the USA.  When we talk about Federal Grant Money we are talking about our tax dollars!  

3. Final thought, in virtually every case I have studied technology was in place that could have improved the outcome for the victims.  I believe that planning for critical incidents reduces the likelihood they will occur.  Until our industry get a seat at the table the technology we sell will never be fully utilized. 

"in virtually every case I have studied technology was in place that could have improved the outcome for the victims".Since Parkland is still fresh in our collective memories, do you know which video system Parkland was using? Claims were made that the video was showing at 10-15 min delay. As you indicated  "Parkland is a classic example of delayed EMS response because no one knew the assailant had left the building". How can we prevent the use of unreliable platforms (if this was indeed the case)?


Based on my research it was not an unreliable platform.  In fact, there were 15 HD cameras in the 1200 building (location of the shooting).  The animation produced by Broward County Sheriffs Department shows the exact movements of the shooter thru the building... the animation came from the video footage.  If you listen to the radio traffic, at approximately 2:43 you will hear the following statements "we need someone with the camera system", "where is the principle who is with the principle" "we need to start making a plan" the fact is, the shooter had exited the building at 2:27.  Why was the question asked "where is the principle"?  If you look at guidance available from FEMA in IS-100Sca it clearly states that every school should have and emergency operations plan that is consistent with Incident Command Structure (ICS).  The school administrator or designee should assume the role of Incident Commander until help arrives.  Available resources should be "resource typed" and utilized to improve situational awareness for the first responders. 

I believe our industry can do more to help our clients better prepare for any type of critical incident.  To do that, we need to understand "All Hazard" event response and earn a seat at the table.  As a Manufacturer you will create a Point of Difference because you can speak a language used by Security Directors, a language that few in the technology industry understand.

Jerry G Wilkins, PSP®

Active Risk Survival, Inc.

Tactically Aware, Technically Competent®

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