Ward Byers from Marshall County Community Corrections and Clyde Avery from Emergency Management appeared before the Commissioners last week to discuss the School Guard App.
Byers said for several years Mr. Avery has attempted to put in place with law enforcement countywide a one-county-one-protocol response to school shootings or armed intruders. After meeting with the school superintendents and the area police chiefs there appears to be some traction now for the one-county-one-protocol with the app called School Guard.
Explaining the app Byers said, “School employees, administrators, teachers would download on their cellphones. A geo-fence is built over each school building and the app only works within the geo-fence. If there is an armed intruder or an active shooter inside any of the school buildings, the teacher, the janitor, and the employee of the school can hit the app. It immediately sends up a GPS point on a google map as to where that individual is on the school property, whether it is a playground, auditorium, parking lot, or a school classroom. Instantaneously it notifies law enforcement, on-duty, or off through an app that they download called HERO 911. It has a 20-mile radius around that school and on-duty and off-duty, police officers receive a message of an active shooter or armed intruder and it provides the information as to what school that is so they can respond immediately. Simultaneously it opens a 911 line to our 911 center.”
There have been proven results of the system does not replace 911 but does speed up the response of law enforcement to the active shooter or intruder situation and get them on the ground quickly to neutralize the aggressor to protect and save the students and employees.
Byers said Porter County schools have used the program for several years.
Byers asked for the county to cover the master contract that will cover every school corporation and school building in the county for the first year which includes the set-up app, monthly fees, and training for the schools for a total cost of $39,900. In the second year, each school corporation will have its contracts and carry on with the monthly fee and service agreements. The master contract includes both LaVille school buildings, the John Glenn School Corporation, and Triton Schools.
Jeremy Riffle, Superintendent of the Triton School Corporation said, “Our number one job as superintendents in our corporations is to keep people safe.” He said, “Pre-covid Clyde started the conversations about one-county-one-protocol.” He also said the app will help with response times, especially in rural communities. Mr. Riffle said, “We know time saves lives and everyone talking the same language for the kids in our county.”
Area police chiefs and the sheriff were supportive and will encourage their officers to download the free HERO 911 app. Avery said adjoining police agencies and Emergency Management Directors will be notified that Marshall County is going with the School Guard app.
While there is nothing in the budget the commissioners were supportive of the new app although the county attorney wanted to review the contract for clarification showing that the county will only pay for the first year. The commissioners approved the request and will send it on to the County Council for funding.
It’s anticipated the app will be in place for the 2022-23 school year.