PANAMA CITY, FLA. (WMBB) — Before the school year began, the state of Florida mandated that all school districts have a silent alarm, to efficiently alert law enforcement if there is an intruder on campus.
The law is called Alyssa’s law, named after Alyssa Alhadeff, a victim of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School school shooting.
However, Bay District Schools has had a silent alert system in place for three years, using an app called Guard911.
“When someone hits that alert and it comes to law enforcement, it don’t matter where we’re at or what we’re doing,” Bay District Schools Chief of Police Mike Jones said. “If we’re within a 20-mile radius it’s gonna tell us ‘hey there’s a shooting at school A or school B’ and we’re responding.”
Currently, Bay District Schools is encouraging more faculty to download the app, Jones said.
“I’m not being ornery but why wouldn’t you want that on your phone if you could get an alert from one of your fellow employees that there’s somebody on campus with a gun,” Jones said. “So I highly recommend all of our employees get it on their phone. It could be a lifesaver.”
Before, the state mandated that each school district have an alarm in effect, BDS paid $25,000-$30,000 per year for the software. If triggered, the app alerts everyone on campus with the app of the threat.
However, the state of Florida will now pay for the service for districts.
“They push the button, the troops are coming,” Jones said. “911’s called, everyone on campus that has that on their phone is alerted, lock down the calls. And then the good thing about that is they can text each other and talk to each other on that channel about what’s going on in the school.”