Sen. Barbara Boxer visits San Diego school to push school security bill

Boxer offers apology to all children

SAN DIEGO - U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer visited a local school Thursday to discuss ways of improving security at schools and to offer an apology to schoolchildren.

Boxer, who is part of the federal response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, dropped by Perkins Elementary School in Barrio Logan.

"We want to keep you safe," Boxer told a class of first-grade students.

Boxer has co-authored the School and Campus Safety Enhancements Act, which calls for $40 million in annual federal grants over the next 10 years for increased security, including cameras, classroom locks and fencing.

The bill would be an expansion of the Secure Our Schools (SOS) grants that began in 2000 but expired last year.

The San Diego Unified School District received $1.2 million in SOS money for security equipment, including 1,200 cameras at 76 sites.

In addition to cameras, the district says it is implementing other security measures since the Newtown, Conn., shooting.

"One of the things that we've learned since that time really is we're looking at the whole layout, physical layout of our campuses," said SDUSD School Board President John Lee Evans.

A better layout means school offices would be positioned better and more windows, which Evans said all helps with greater vigilance.

Documents show Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza killed 26 and then himself in just five minutes.

"Having a school resource officer presence in a school district would make a difference," said Boxer.

With the 45 resource officers SD Unified has now, that means there are not enough for every school. The grant money could help with that.

"That frees up money for personnel costs and we do need more police officers in a school district of our size," said SDUSD Police Chief Rueben Littlejohn.

Boxer said she's optimistic her bill will pass, but had this to say to children: "I apologize to the kids of this country that we haven't done more to protect them; it's our fault."

Boxer said hundreds of millions of dollars are spent to protect members of Congress, and then added, "Well, if we can't afford a little slice of that to help our kids, shame on us."

The children Boxer met with seemed to understand her message.

One young girl said, "They want us to be safe so our mom won't get worried."

Boxer's bill has already been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and will head to the full Senate in April.

The bill is part of more controversial gun legislation.

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