Our schools are a safe place for children to learn, faculty and staff to work and for communities to gather. However, we must recognize that we are not immune to the senseless and tragic violence that is affecting our entire nation. When we examined our school safety plans, we found that the need to ensure immediate and sustainable communications between a school in lockdown, and responding police, was crucial and a possible “failure point”.
While every school should have an emergency plan that relies on communicating from their command post during an emergency. To be effective, that Command Post depends on staff being trained to recognize a threat and having the ability to use a telephone to call 911 for help.
Realistically, if a school command post were being threatened by an armed and dangerous person; making that critical phone call may not be safe or even possible.
Following the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary school, I worked with the District Attorney, Delaware County Council and school leaders to identify new ways that we can act to protect our schools in light of schools increasingly becoming targets for violence.
Collaborating with local police, our County 911 Center and experts on security systems, we developed the Delaware County Police Alert to School Safety, DELPASS, to provide a critical new response tool for our schools and first responders.
Now, school officials can immediate activate the police alert system to make that call for help. After pushing the DELPASS button, school staff can seek shelter with their students and trust that help is on the way.
Any DELPASS activation will immediately go to our County 911 Communications center. There, the Police Dispatcher will receive vital information, both verbally and electronically, that will allow them to quickly notify police of the emergency. DELPASS can also help responders know where in the school help is needed by monitoring conditions in the school.
We are also training school faculty, administrators and staff, along with 911 center operators, Police and first responders, to understand when to use the DELPASS alert and how to react quickly to threats of violence in our schools.
Now, the Delaware County Police Alert to School Safety gives our first responders the advantage of getting to the school quickly, with real time information, so that they can act to stop the threat and save lives.