Two 15 year old boys from Lincoln Way East High School located in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, were charged Wednesday after allegedly posting threats about a school shooting to social media. The boys were taken into custody and the police said the teens issued statements indicating they did not intend to harm anyone.
Although the boys’ posting was likely a hoax intended to get another student in trouble, threats to school safety like this one immediately call to mind tragic school shootings that weren’t stopped, from Columbine to the 2013 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Dedicated to improving school safety in the wake of incidents like these, Mutualink Inc., an interoperable communications provider, announced a new partnership with school safety expert Bill Smith to collaborate on ways to improve schools’ preparedness and response in emergency situations through advanced communications technology.
Smith, a founding member of American School Safety.com and principal of Jennings Smith Associates, brings over 30 years of experience in school safety and security issues to the new partnership. Smith’s licensed security consulting firm, Jennings Smith Associates, Inc., provides comprehensive safety and security audits, training and instructional modules for implementing all hazards safety, security and emergency management plans in school districts.
Smith founded American School Safety in 1999 in an effort to help school administrators, police and emergency services personnel prepare for and respond to school-based safety and security incidents.
“We’re honored that a security expert of Bill Smith’s caliber recognizes the significant value our technology brings to the school community,” said Mutualink Senior Vice President Joe Mazzarella. “The ability to communicate and share information with first responders – and across agencies and partners as needed – provides critical capabilities that can make a real-world difference in terms of safety outcomes. We look forward to working closely with Bill to advance our shared goal of securing our schools.”
Smith decided to partner with Mutualink after becoming a strong proponent of the company’s secure emergency communications and video sharing platform for schools. The Mutualink K12 platform establishes an instant bi-directional link with police, fire, EMS and other entities in emergency situations. With the push of a panic button, schools can instantly communicate with first responders and share real-time voice, intercom, video, data and text communications.
Homeland Security Today previously reported that Mutualink K12 reduced time to incident resolution by 40 percent in multiple school safety drills.
The technology is unique among school security solutions because it effectively engages schools and the community in public safety, leading to reduced resolution time.
“Response time is a critical element in keeping people safe, particularly in an active shooter scenario,” Smith said. “One of the true benefits of using this technology is that it can be launched at the first sign of a school emergency, and the responding team – including police, fire and emergency services units – can instantly assess the threat and respond immediately with specific resources to resolve the issue. Mutualink gives responders eyes and ears on a situation, and any time you can give law enforcement an advantage like that, it saves time and saves lives.”
Smith said there are a number of mobile apps and communications systems “masquerading” as school security solutions. He asserted that these labels mean little, and that schools need solutions specifically designed with the school environment in mindin order to be effective in the event of an emergency.
“I have seen and evaluated many so-called school safety solutions, and I believe Mutualink’s technology is one of a few that can reliably assist schools in a real life emergency,” he said. “I cannot be more emphatic that Mutualink is critical to fundamentally improving school safety and is more than a worthwhile investment, it is a necessary investment. I would also say, based on my experience that school leaders need to be very wary of the ‘we can do that too’ phenomena.”
“The fact is, Mutualink is a uniquely qualified and proven solution, and if it’s my child, I want the real thing that does what it is supposed to do, reliably and effectively. I’m not into gambling with lives,” Smith concluded.