A number of school shootings over the past several years has prompted government agencies and private organizations to search for new way to make schools as safe as possible.
Consequently, in 2013, COPsync, which operates the nation’s largest law enforcement communication systems software in real-time, introduced the COPsync911 Threat Alert System to provide a way for school officials to instantly alert the police of possible threats.
Now, COPsync is partnering with the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) to create a pilot program to demonstrate the efficacy of COPsync911 to schools.
COPsync911 provides a faster way for schools to notify police of a threat than the traditional 911 call. If a member of the school staff recognizes a threat in the school, they can press a button from any school computer or from their phone. Then, they are redirected to a page that asks them to confirm if there is a threat. If the staff member confirms, or if 15 seconds go by with no activity, an alert is sent out to the other teachers in the school, as well as the five closest police officers to the school, so that law enforcement can respond immediately.
The program can also work in the reverse direction. For example, if there is a crime committed near a school, police can use COPsync911 to notify school officials to put the school on lockdown.
The program also provides police with more information on the situation than they would get through a 911 call. Using COPsync911’s silent chat, police officers and dispatch can communicate with individuals inside the school. The program also sends officers the floorplan of the school so they know where to go once they arrive.
COPsync911 costs $2,400 to install and run in a school district the first year, and then $1,200 to operate each year after that.
Currently, more than 730 campuses across Texas, California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire use COPsync911. In Sept. 2014, the governor of New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan, announced that as part of a statewide safety program, COPsync911 would be added to current safety protocols in all public schools in the state.
In order to introduce COPsync911 to even more schools, COPsync and the NCPC, a nonprofit that teams up with law enforcement and other organizations to prevent crime, are launching the pilot project to demonstrate how COPsync911 works. They will introduce the system to five to 10 different school districts and five to 10 law enforcement agencies, and will also provide NCPC-led training.
Ron Woessner, the CEO of COPsync, has stated he came up with the idea for COPsync911 after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings of 2012, when Adam Lanza shot 20 students and 6 adult staff members. Woessner believes that COPsync911 could save lives by eliminating the delay in getting police dispatched to the scene of a shooting.
Although Sandy Hook was a tragedy, it is far from the only recent school shooting. From the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 to the end of 2014, there were 95 shootings on school campuses, killing a total of 45 people. And from 2000 to 2013, the US suffered from more school shootings than the rest of the world combined.
Lawmakers and civilians alike are at a loss as to why school shootings are so common in the US, and how they can be stopped. In the meantime, programs like COPsync911 aim to keep students as safe.
"School safety is on the minds of every student, parent, teacher, and school administrator," Ann M. Harkins, president and CEO of NCPC, said in a statement. "The goal of the new NCPC and COPsync pilot program is to work together with schools and law enforcement to increase response time and to enhance safety in our schools."