This article originally appeared on CBS 6 Albany News. To view the original article, click here.
New York State (WRGB) — A school safety expert who is working right now with New Jersey and Florida–who have already passed Alyssa’s Law–tells me that arming New York’s schools with a panic alarm will definitely save lives. His company, Raptor, is the largest provider of school safety software in the country. More than 5000 school districts–representing more than 35 thousand schools–use some form of their software.
David Rogers says the panic button can be either a physical button with a silent alarm or mobile on a phone, tablet, or computer. When you initiate an alert, a notification immediately goes out to 911, the entire school staff, and the district office. Depending on the emergency, and how the district wants it set up, it can be an amber alert noise, a strobe, even a screen takeover of computers.
Rogers points out in the mass shooting at Marjorie Douglas Stoneman School in Parkland, Florida four years ago, the shooter’s activity set off the fire alarm. Students on the third floor never heard the gunfire. Teachers assumed there was a fire and herded the children down the stairs–right into the path of the shooter.
I asked Rogers the question every parent would want to know: Can you guarantee–with the silent alarm in place–that their children will be safe?
He said, “What we’re guaranteeing is, that, as soon as an alert is sent out, it’s going to go out instantaneously to all the people who need to know so they can respond. Had the children on the third floor not evacuated at the fire alarm, had they been notified there was an active shooter in the building, they would have been able to lock down and not walk into that shooter. It will absolutely save lives. It will get first responders there faster because seconds matter”
Rogers says the Raptor technology is set up to talk to other technologies schools put in place–like gun-detection artificial intelligence, or smartboards, or door locks.
The Albany School District is already employing Raptor’s software that can provide sex offender and custody databases as well as volunteer and visitor management, and student threat assessment–looking at early indicators that a child may need specialized attention so that a grievance does not erupt into violence.
And because school districts are facing cash issues, I asked Rogers how much the panic button system cost. He said the entire security package they offer costs less than the price of one projector in a single classroom.