DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — A new security system on school staff cell phones in Okaloosa County could help save lives.
During a test demonstration at the 911 operation center, the Crestview High school’s assistant principal called in a SaferWatch alert, instantly providing accurate information to all responding agencies.
“What I see is a faculty member, teacher, principal being able to deliver that in a situation where they can’t talk,” said Sheriff Eric Aden, Okaloosa County. “They might be able to get critical information that is going to save lives without exposing where they are tactically if that makes sense.”
The program limits warnings to only phones on campus property. Those within the area can issue warnings and be located.
“Whether it is a crime in progress, an active assailant, a fire, a medical emergency. It also gives the user the opportunity to use their phone video and pictures and real-time upload those videos or pictures to dispatch,” said Danny Dean, Okaloosa School Safety.
SaferWatch has been in place since October 2021 also serving the county’s charter schools like Destin high. The sheriff said two people, including a teacher, have been helped so far using this quick action response system.
The platform lets the user choose between medical, fire or other emergencies and put the schools on lockdown. The county can also use it during severe weather events.
“Teachers who have this app on their phone, or a custodian with this app on their phone, now they are given permission so to speak if they see something that’s occurring, done hesitate. Go straight to the app and call it,” said Marcus Chambers, Okaloosa County School Superintendent.
Governor Ron DeSantis passed legislation in 2020 requiring all districts to have a mobile alert system by the end of this school year. Around 60 percent of the Florida districts use Safer Watch alongside school resource officers.