Gonzales ISD adds digital panic buttons to schools

New technology increases safety, reduces response times


GONZALES, Texas - When students return to school in the Gonzales Independent School District, they will be protected by new technology most will never see.

In response to recent school shootings across the country, the district is arming all of its class rooms with a digital panic button.

The technology is called COPsync 911 and when it's activated, it automatically dispatches officers to the school.

"Simply by hitting a prearranged signal on a computer, they will notify the five nearest officers," said Gonzales County Sheriff Glen Sachtleben.

Instead of calling 911 in an emergency, teachers and other school staff members can click an icon on their computers or smart phones to alert police.

The alert is also passed on to police dispatchers who can send more resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

The system also allows users to give officers and dispatchers real-time information about the situation in a secure chat room.

"It is a very quick, direct communication method between the school system and law enforcement should something untoward happen," Sachtleben said. "The officers will have quite a bit of information immediately at hand about the school, (such as) where the call came from, the classroom where the call came from."

Sachtleben said he got the COPsync program for his officers about two years ago. When the system was expanded to include schools, he encouraged the Gonzales school district to check it out.

Superintendent Kim Strozier said the system will increase campus safety because it will dramatically reduce response times.

The panic button not only lets officers know exactly where the incident is taking place, it also alerts all teachers and staff.

Anyone with a computer or phone can activate it.

"Every staff member who has access to those communication systems is immediately notified of the potential threat," Strozier said. "Safety and security is our No. 1 priority ... and continually providing better safety and security and that's what this is about."

The system will go active when school resumes later this month.

"We absolutely hope and pray that nothing ever happens," Sachtleben said. "We feel it's vital (that) we prepare adequately for if something should happen."

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