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Saturday, March 6th, 2021

Senate bill would expand National Threat Assessment Center to enhance school safety

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The U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) would be expanded to include a national program that conducts research and provides resources on school violence across the country.

Named for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s mascot, the Eagles Act, S. 2759, would also direct the Secret Service to draft a plan to expand the program’s reach and to report to Congress regularly on its progress. The bipartisan bill was introduced by U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Bill Nelson (D-FL).

“The U.S. Secret Service has unique and unparalleled experience in identifying threats to safety and preventing tragedies,” Grassley said. “This bill builds on the Secret Service’s case study research on targeted school violence and enables the National Threat Assessment Center to train more of our nation’s schools in how to conduct threat assessments and early interventions. Equipping our communities and schools with training and best practices to recognize and prevent school violence is an important step toward preventing future tragedies and an important way to honor victims of school violence.”

Established in 1998, the NTAC develops evidence-based indicators for different types of violence that can be used to develop best practices and enhance preparedness and response. The Secret Service has delivered 444 training operations to 93,000 school administrators, teachers, mental health professionals and school resource officers since 2002.

“To prevent future tragedies like Parkland, a multi-pronged approach is needed to ensure that threats do not fall through the cracks,’ Rubio said. “By providing funding to the National Threat Assessment Center, top-notch research to stop school violence will help prevent future tragedies. This bill will also expand threat assessment programs so that more school districts can be trained to identify threats and properly intervene.”

The Eagles Act would also authorize the NTAC to consult outside parties on complex threat assessments and programs, and it would provide additional funding to expand NTAC’s staff and research capabilities.

“We need to do everything we can to better protect our kids while they’re in school,” Nelson said. “This bill will help provide school officials with the resources and training they need to detect potential threats before they materialize.”