NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Keeping kids safe at school is a challenge for administrators everywhere and it has some looking beyond the traditional 911 system to new cutting edge, potentially life saving, technology.
School shootings are a troubling sign of the times — from Columbine in 1999 to Sandy Hook in 2012, and at least another 44 since then.
Schools have responded with additional metal detectors, surveillance cameras, and evacuation drills. Now, a new tool called ‘Cop Sync 911’ could get help to schools faster and more efficiently than in the past, CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported.
One click during a school emergency automatically alerts the five closest police officers on patrol — no matter what their jurisdiction. It’s all about geography.
“You may have a state police officer or a sheriff’s deputy driving through that town and he will be one of the five to receive that alert,” Brandon Flanagan explained.
In addition, the alert goes to the entire local police department and to 911 dispatch. The idea is to shave minutes off of response time meaning EMTs and cops can get to the scene quicker.
Teachers who are in imminent danger can directly communicate with first responders using their cell phones.
“The idea that I can instantly communicate with officers nearby gives me that peace of mind I thought I had lost forever,” teacher Kathy Witt said.
The system also transmits vital information like school blueprints to help officers on the scene.
Cop Sync 911 is in about 70 school districts around the country. At one school in Texas students and parents are feeling safer already.
“I like to know the police know what’s going on in the school,” student Kaitlyn Robinson said.
The system is not in place in the city but city schools Chancellor Carmen Farina has not ruled it out.
“We’re up to reviewing anything that works, keeping in mind that funds are funds, and you put it in one thing you take it away from something else,” Farina said.
Experts said that it may very well be worth the investment.
“Anything that equips police with the ability to go quickly and have reliable, quick information, can literally make them not only diagnose situations better, but allow them to save lives,” Criminologist, Eugene O’Donnell said.
In the fall, an Albany school district plans to become the first in New York to use Cop Sync.
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