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Panic button apps: Which schools have them and why

(KVLY)
Published: Aug. 9, 2019 at 5:44 PM CDT
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Student safety is a huge issue here in the Fargo-Moorhead area and nationally, and now - school districts and lawmakers are finding new ways to keep students safe.

One way is through panic button apps. School districts in states like Oklahoma, Arkansas, Utah, Texas, and Washington D.C. are turning to smart phone technology to shorten response times during emergencies.

And while some may question how an app can help in a school shooting situation, Katharine Dahl, the Senior Director of Product Marketing at Rave Mobile Safety, says her panic button app has already seen results.

"A teacher heard a rumor about a student having a gun at school – hit the active shooter button, and then within two minutes an SRO officer was on the scene. And within 8 minutes, they were able to confiscate the gun and lock-down the school," Dahl says.

We asked North Dakota's Department of Public Instruction about bringing panic buttons to the state, but we were told decisions like that are made at the local level.

We then reached out to schools in the F-M area to see if they had a panic button app for staff or if they've considered bringing one in. Fargo and West Fargo schools both say they have panic button capabilities at every school, but not for every staff member. Meanwhile, Moorhead Public Schools says they aren't using a panic button app.

The districts say one reason they aren't in favor of the apps is because not all of them tell law enforcement what exactly they're responding to.

More money could be available for school security soon. A bipartisan bill currently sitting in the house judiciary committee wants to set aside $2-billion dollars over the next decade for school security. If passed, the federal grants will cover up to 50% of the cost of the security improvements.