Michele Gay Joins the DOJ’s COPS Office and BJA Panel on School Safety and Security

On May 23, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) held a panel featuring Safe and Sound Schools’ Co-founder

Washington, DC – June 7, 2019Safe and Sound Schools co-founder and executive director, Michele Gay, was invited by the U.S. Department of Justice components, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), to participate as a panelist in an internal conference focused on the topic of school safety and security.

The purpose of the event was to enhance COPS and BJA staff knowledge of school safety concerns, emerging issues, and promising practices.  In Rethinking School Safety: A Parent’s Perspective, Michele Gay told her personal story as the mother of a child killed during the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. Reflecting on the tragedy with the attendees, Gay shared how Safe and Sound Schools now works to help communities in identifying key preventative actions and safety solutions- measures that were not in place for her daughter’s school during that crisis.  

The panel was comprised of nationally recognized subject matter experts and practitioners of the most current information available on the topic of K-12 school safety.  Other esteemed panelists included:

  • Dr. Lina Alathari, Chief of the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center
  • Mo Canady, Executive Director of the National Association of School Resource Officers
  • Dr. Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach, Director of Policy & Advocacy, National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
  • Phillip Keith, Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)

Both the COPS Office and BJA support programs that focus on providing funding to state and local education and law enforcement agencies.  These offices work to bring evidence-based programs, strategies and equipment to prevent school violence and increase school security.


About Safe and Sound Schools

Michele Gay and Alissa Parker founded Safe and Sound Schools in 2013, following the tragic deaths of their children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Safe and Sound Schools works with school communities and mental health, law enforcement, and safety professionals to create and ensure the safest possible learning environment for all youth. The non-profit organization delivers crisis-prevention, response, and recovery programs, tools, and resources, backed by national experts, to educate all members of the school community, from students and parents, to teachers and administrators, to law enforcement and local leaders. Winner of the 2015 New England Business Association Innovation Award for nonprofits, Safe and Sound Schools continues to answer the growing needs of school communities with custom programs, assessments, and training, reaching schools in every state in the country. For more information, visit safeandsoundschools.org.

About the COPS Office

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) is the component of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for advancing the practice of community policing by the nation’s state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies through information and grant resources.

Community policing begins with a commitment to building trust and mutual respect between police and communities. It is critical to public safety, ensuring that all stakeholders work together to address our nation’s crime challenges. When police and communities collaborate, they more effectively address underlying issues, change negative behavioral patterns, and allocate resources.

The COPS Office awards grants to hire community policing professionals, develop and test innovative policing strategies, and provide training and technical assistance to community members, local government leaders, and all levels of law enforcement. Since 1994, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to help advance community policing.


About the Bureau of Justice Assistance

BJA is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, that helps to make American communities safer by strengthening the nation’s criminal justice system: Its grants, training and technical assistance, and policy development services provide state, local, and tribal governments with the cutting edge tools and best practices they need to reduce violent and drug-related crime, support law enforcement, and combat victimization.

BJA’s mission is to provide leadership and services in grant administration and criminal justice policy development to support local, state, and tribal justice strategies to achieve safer communities. BJA supports programs and initiatives in the areas of law enforcement, justice information sharing, countering terrorism, managing offenders, combating drug crime and abuse, adjudication, advancing tribal justice, crime prevention, protecting vulnerable populations, and capacity building.