Reporting suspicious activity or perceived threats at our schools just got a whole lot easier.
The Broward Sheriff's Office, in partnership with SaferWatch, recently launched an innovative new mobile app that allows users to report non-emergency incidents and tips in real time directly to BSO. The SaferWatch program covers more than 440 public, charter and private schools in Broward and gives students, parents and teachers the ability to submit photos, videos, audio files or text messages anonymously.
Whether it's a case of bullying, overhearing something of concern or witnessing an incident that gives you pause, the app provides a user an easy way to report important tips and information that may have in the past gone unreported. The information is then sent to BSO Criminal Investigations who will review the information and swiftly take the appropriate action. The more eyes and ears we have in the community, the safer we all become. So if you see something, send something through SaferWatch.
Another great feature about SaferWatch is the ability to alert users of an incident or event at any geo-fenced school in Broward County. For instance, if there is an incident at a school, all users of the app at the school and those who have chosen that school for which to receive alerts will be sent a notification through the app in real time.
SaferWatch is a remarkable new tool, but it is just one of many ways BSO is working to strengthen school security.
This year, BSO is ensuring that an armed school resource officer, deputy or guardian will be on every public and charter school campus in all BSO-patrolled cities, from the open of school to the close of school. Larger schools have more than one deputy to provide for additional coverage. BSO also provides added armed security on every public and charter school campus in BSO-patrolled cities during the beginning and end of each school day, when the most people are coming and going from campuses.
In addition, we are also working closely with Broward County Public Schools to assist with the hiring, equipping and training of their armed school guardians for schools in all Broward County districts.
We also know that ongoing training and preparation are vital in every profession—especially law enforcement. To that end, we have provided enhanced tactical training to all BSO school resource officers in the area of active shooter; initiated additional active shooter training for all sworn BSO personnel; and trained and equipped all school resource officers with smaller concealable long gun firearms to ensure they have immediate access in the event of an active shooter incident.
BSO is making heavy, but prudent use of the Risk Protection Order Act (RPO), or red flag law, which passed earlier this year. The law is a valuable tool to prevent gun violence by helping keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who demonstrate an obvious threat to themselves or others. Already, BSO has utilized RPOs dozens of times—more than any other county in the state.
We are working on the formation of a dedicated threat assessment division which will serve as a clearinghouse for all information related to individuals who potentially pose a threat to our schools and the communities we serve. These enhancements are just some of the ways BSO is working to help keep our schools and our children as safe as possible.
To learn more about SaferWatch, including how to download it, visit BrowardAlerts.com.
Sheriff Scott Israel