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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In a push to improve school safety, Tennessee legislators passed a law encouraging school districts to add silent panic alarms designed to call law enforcement when they’re pressed.
The piece of legislation, called “Alyssa’s Law,” is named after 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff, who was shot eight times in her English classroom at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018.
“I think it’s important to know that these safety measures are crucial; that you make sure as a parent that you get involved with the safety at your school,” Alyssa’s mother, Lori Alhadeff, said.
Thanks to Lori’s advocacy, “Alyssa’s Law” has passed in New Jersey, Florida, New York, Texas, and now Tennessee. In most of those states, the law requires schools have the panic alarms, but Tennessee’s version of the law only encourages districts to add them.
“I know that every time that panic button is pushed, that Alyssa is saving lives,” Lori said.
One company that sells the software in the form of an app, Raptor Technologies, is already supplying the technology to 16% of schools in Tennessee. With the touch of a button, users can alert first responders of an emergency. Then, the app sends the user’s name, location, and other data to police.
On top of that, the app not only allows users to group chat and organize reunification efforts, but it can also be synced with other safety measures throughout a building.
“The whole idea behind ‘Alyssa’s Law’ is that seconds matter,” David Rogers, chief marketing officer for Raptor Technologies, said. “The faster that you can respond to an active shooter event, the more lives are going to be saved.”
In addition, Rogers told News 2 the Raptor Technologies app is often used to report everyday emergencies, including fires, natural disasters, and fights in schools.
Another panic alarm company, SaferWatch, has helped stop 12 school shootings and improved law enforcement response times by an average of two minutes, according to its founder and CEO, Geno Roefaro.
“Everyone is looking for ways of how to make their schools safer, how to make their kids safer, and the number one thing you could do is communication,” Roefaro said. “The quicker and more information we can get to responders, the better, and everyone has access to their phone, right? So everyone has a phone, and it’s a simple tool that allows people to do that.”
“Alyssa’s Law” is part of a larger school safety package that passed last legislative session. The package includes other mandatory safety measures, like requiring schools to keep exterior doors locked at all times, instructing them to establish a threat assessment team that collaborates with other states, and mandating certain emergency drills.