LYONS — The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office will be getting a large federal grant to improve school safety, which will include hiring a coordinator, buying portable metal detectors and other measures.
The Department of Justice grant of nearly $325,000 was announced in a press release Thursday by James Kennedy Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York. It is part of the STOP (Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing) School Violence Act of 2018.
Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts said the grant, which requires a 25-percent local match, will go toward his office hiring a full-time community schools safety coordinator. That person, who will be a civilian, will support school resource officers with safety plans in each of the 11 school districts in the county.
“The main focus is improving coordination between SROs, schools and county supports,” Virts said.
Grant money also can be used for training by local police to prevent school violence, metal detectors, locks, lighting, and other school safety equipment and technology. Virts said his office’s budget for the grant includes buying four portable detectors for unspecified high-need schools, although they can be used at other schools as needed.
“The portable detectors will allow for support if schools have a security concern or for special events,” he said.
The grant also covers hiring school safety liaison officers in each school district that will work with the safety coordinator and sheriff’s office. They will be paid a stipend of approximately $2,000 per year.
The safety coordinator will work with police, school and mental health partners to do site risk assessments and safety preparedness at each school in the county, including drills. The grant is for a three-year period.
Grants in the western district also went to the Irondequoit Police Department (approximately $206,000) in Monroe County and Hamburg Central School District (approximately $148,000) in Erie County.
“It is the responsibility of school districts and law enforcement community to work in partnership so that our children know that they are safe at school,” Kennedy said in the press release. “If kids do not feel safe, they cannot learn. For that reason, especially during these unusual times, we remained focused on doing all that we can to secure and protect our children and our schools.”