FRANKLIN COUNTY (WSLS 10) – The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is asking for money to bring a new program into schools. COPSync 911 connects schools with police saving minutes in an emergency. Bedford County Schools were the first district in Virginia using the technology last year.
“Many of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States cannot communicate with other law enforcement agencies,” said Cynthia Vetter who adds that’s one of the reasons her husband Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Randy Vetter was killed fifteen years ago. “Lack of information was one of the things that contributed to his death. He did not know the person he pulled over had previously threatened to kill a law enforcement officer.”
COPSync 911 gives police access to that kind of information. It’s a system Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton wants to use in schools where teachers will have an app that can instantly connect them with police.
“When you talk about a horrific event, the possibility of a shooter time is of essence. We’ve seen this play out in every shooting incident around the country. Time is the most crucial part. How quickly can we get on the scene,” said Sheriff Overton.
“They have an app if there is an emergency they touch the icon and they are immediately entered into a chat room with the five closest law enforcement officers as well as dispatch. immediately all together in one place sharing information as it happens,” said Vetter.
The technology gives police school diagrams and information cutting down on response times and possibly saving lives. Sheriff Overton says there are only two School Resource Officers, one at the middle school and one at the high school. There are twelve elementary schools that deputies rotate through during the school day to check. A full time School Resource Officer will cost about $50,000… this program costs about $46,000.
“When you’re dealing with the safety of our children you can’t put a price tag on it. We need to be very prudent about what we’re doing as far as safety and working together and we believe this would be an outstanding program,” said Sheriff Overton.
Vetter says it has saved lives being used in medical emergencies, when someone in the front office felt threatened and when children bring guns to school.
The Sheriff has asked the Board of Supervisors for the money. They are expected to talk about it at their next meeting August 16th. Sheriff Overton says Ferrum College is also interested in the program and it could be expanded to government buildings, hospitals and more.