Newaygo County sheriff, other lawmakers back School Safety Reform Plan

Newaygo County Sheriff's Office file photo.

NEWAYGO COUNTY, Mich. —  A broad coalition of Michigan law-enforcement and education groups recently presented a plan they say would help prevent classroom violence – and the Newaygo County Sheriff is among those expressing support for it.

Sheriff Bob Mendham urged lawmakers Wednesday to support the measure, which he says would go a long ways toward “protecting our children, and providing them with a safe and secure learning environment…”.

The Michigan School Safety Reform Plan calls for a $100 million grant program to be established for the personnel to make it happen, plus a $20 million grant program for safety infrastucture. In addition, the plan would entail:

• More school resource officers—sheriffs and police—working in school facilities through a new state grant program;
• More school mental health professionals to identify problems early through the same new state grant program;
• Grants to ensure safer buildings for students and teachers; and
• Mandatory reporting of threats and graduated penalties to help prevent violence.

Sheriff Mendham says creating a safe and secure environment is “our top priority.” He points out there have been more than 40 threats of school violence in Michigan just since the massacre at a Parkland, Florida high school on February 14, 2018. According to a Newagyo County news release, that’s the fifth-highest threat total in the United States. And the Sheriff’s Office says police have answered a dozen threats of violence to Newaygo County school districts since then – and four people have been criminally charged.

The Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office says the following organizations back the Michigan School Safety Reform Plan:

 Michigan Sheriffs Association
 Michigan Association of School Administrators
 Michigan Association of School Boards
 Michigan Association of School Psychologists
 Michigan Association of School Social Workers
 Michigan School Counselors Association
 Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police
 Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan

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