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A press conference was held on Tuesday morning at City Hall to announce a new school security system to be implemented within Sweetwater ISD (Independent School District).
A program already in use by local law enforcement known as COPsync, Inc. has offered the local school district the opportunity to implement the COPsync 911 system. Thus, Sweetwater ISD will become the first district in the nation to test and implement the security system.
Ron Wessner, the CEO of COPsync, Inc., stated that the system is a type of electronic body armor for law enforcement. Real-time information and communication can be shared through the software installed on computers and other electronic tools.
COPsync 911 is the only system of this magnitude throughout the United States. All law enforcement agencies within the 32nd Judicial District already use COPsync, while 370 agencies in Texas also use the program.
With software as the first line of defense, teachers can be armed with 21st century technology. First, schools must download the system to the computer, in which the application continually runs and an icon is on the screen.
In the event of a threat, the icon is clicked, which sends an alert to the five officers closest to the scene, and is also sent to the dispatch operator. The alert can also be sent to patrol cars--which already have COPsync--and to the cell phones of the officers, as well as to teachers and any resource officer that the school desires to contact.
After the alert is dispersed, a chat room is established, which allows all parties to communicate in real time. A map with directions on how to get to the school can be viewed, along with a diagram of the school which will locate where the alert was sent so that officers know where to respond.
According to Wessner, during the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, it took six minutes to dispatch the first officer after the 911 call was received. COPsync 911 eliminates any time delay, as the alert is sent directly to cruisers.
By offering a better awareness and location of the threat, COPsync 911 can assist in "protecting against the dangerous people in the world." The 32nd Judicial District is passionate about protecting people, leading them to implement the national program locally.
Various community leaders also spoke briefly during the press conference. Nolan County Sheriff David Warren expressed his appreciation to Sweetwater ISD for allowing the district to test the system within the county.
He also cited the Sandy Hook tragedy, in that several local school districts were being contacted after the incident on what measures were being taken to secure the campuses. Since the Nolan County Sheriff's Office already uses COPsync, this new system offers an added measure of security.
With a quicker response time, lives can be saved and the incident can come to an end faster. The immediate notification--sent to the cop cars and respective agencies--is crucial, and Warren called the system a "wonderful addition."
Sweetwater ISD Superintendent Terry Pittman said that when law enforcement approached the district with the system, they viewed it as another way to enhance school safety, which is a top priority of the district.
Already, the elementary schools within SISD have implemented controlled access, while the middle school and high school campuses have a resource officer. With the added layer of security offered by COPsync 911, the district is "excited" about the program's quick response time.
The city was also represented by Precinct 2 City Commissioner Jim McKenzie, City Manager Eddie Brown and Mayor Greg Wortham at the press conference. Mayor Wortham stated that he appreciated the progressive collaborative work on such a great idea.
State officials also voiced their praise on the implementation of COPsync 911 within Sweetwater ISD. Robyn Wertheim, the district director with the office of State Representative Susan King, spoke on behalf of the representative, who is currently taking part in the 83rd Legislative Session.
Rep. King believes that community efforts with local involvement, such as this, are much better than legislation. Additionally, she is proud that the area is putting kids and their safety first.
And in a statement from Congressman Randy Neugebauer--who is presently at work in Washington, he also praised Nolan County for taking a progressive stance to secure children. He hopes to visit the area at a later date in order to see the system.
Sweetwater Chief of Police Brian Frieda conducted the press conference, stating that with this week being National Law Enforcement Week, the timing for the announcement was appropriate.
In his 28 years of law enforcement, Chief Frieda has come to understand the importance of staying ahead of technology trends due in part that "terrorists...certainly educate themselves." However, COPsync 911 will assure the security and well being not just for students, but for school staff as well.