Newswise — On June 3, 2015, legislation to allow lawsuits against Colorado schools when there are shootings or other violence was signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper. With the law, Colorado will be among a few states that allow school lawsuits for cases of violence. Schools opposed the bill, saying it would increase their insurance liability and wouldn’t prevent violence.
Ronald A. Woessner, CEO of COPsync, Inc., is aware of the significant liability faced by Colorado schools as a result of this law, and has helped create a technology—called COPsync911—that could in theory mitigate it. The COPsync911 threat alert system connects a school or other facility under threat directly to the closest patrol officers and local dispatch—saving minutes when seconds count. The system enables a silent alert to be sent from any enabled desktop computer or mobile device directly to the closest patrol units, located using GPS, and the local dispatch. The advantage over simply calling 911 is that it eliminates delay from the estimated one- to two-minute dispatch call, because the patrol units are en route as soon as the alert arrives. The dispatcher continues to direct the law enforcement response as they would today and the officers are provided an online map to speed their travel to the facility under threat. The system enables two-way communication between the teachers, on the one hand, and the patrol officers and local dispatch on the other.
Further, COPsync911 provides the officers situational awareness they would not receive as easily as with a 911 phone call. Officers are provided a school diagram so they know exactly where to go once they arrive on scene. (e.g., “Shooter is in library.”) Officers can also access IP-based cameras in the facility to see what is occurring. The system also opens a crisis communications portal among the persons on the school campus who have sent the alerts, the responding officers and dispatch. This creates two-way communication, unlike the one-way communication of simple messaging-based alert systems, which enables real-time information exchange between the persons under threat, the officers and the dispatch. Finally, for the agency command staff who have to answer the tough questions after the incident, the communications portal provides a record for the “after action” report and debrief to demonstrate law enforcement efficiency and effectiveness in handling the matter.
More than 730 locations are being secured by the COPsync911 threat alert system, mainly in Texas, Louisiana, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Indeed, the State of New Hampshire has determined to provide funding to rollout the COPsync911 threat alert system to every school in the state. By ensuring law enforcement is on the scene faster and allowing communication between schools and officers and among officers themselves, technology such as COPsync911 could potentially reduce the risk of violence on campus—and the liability to schools that comes with it in Colorado and elsewhere.