New School Safety Bill

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- The expectancy of another school campus shooting has become common ground. Congresswoman Gwen Graham is introducing new legislation that will help teachers respond quickly to threats with new technology.

Since the Sandy Hook shooting, a gun has been shot on campus nearly once a week.

The “Securing Our Schools Act”places tech-forward alert systems in classrooms by allowing the Justice Department to award extra dollars to school districts. After the first year the department will be able to evaluate which technological systems proved to be most effective.

Friday morning at City Hall Graham will be discussing further details of the bill and school safety with the Leon County Schools security chief, law enforcement officials and parents.

Since the department will be able to evaluate the most effective systems, the bill gives local officials the authority to select the type of alert system they want installed. The individual grants must fall under $200,00 and be a one-year duration period. Under the bill, the schools are responsible for providing 25 percent matching funds.

Such systems are already being used in other states. However, the systems are quite expensive.

One example is in Arkansas; teachers in that state can use a mobile app like a panic button. That specific program costs its state education department $950,000 in its first year and $850,000 afterward.

In the Arkansas program, each button sends a specific alert to law enforcement and school leaders. The alerts include: active shooter, fire, police or emergency medical services. Once triggered the app will pinpoint the user’s location. First responders will also receive relevant information about the building, like emergency exits or floor plans.

In other cities physical panic buttons have been placed in classrooms. These buttons are hardwired to notify either first responders or the school’s main office when there is an emergency situation.

This new program could advance the way law enforcement is able to contain an emergency situation on school campus.