1.6.23 – Daily Citizen-News — ATLANTA
If approved by legislators, the bill would require schools to implement the “Alyssa Alert,” a mobile panic alert system by July 2024.
After a string of false reports of shootings in Georgia schools, state lawmakers are proposing a mandate for schools to be equipped with panic buttons.
Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas, introduced new legislation as an avenue to increase school safety and decrease the opportunity for “domestic terrorists” to falsely report school shootings.
SB 37, named “Alyssa’s Law” after Alyssa Alhadeff — a 14-year-old killed in a Florida school shooting in 2018 — directs that public elementary and secondary school buildings be equipped with silent panic alarms that notify law enforcement.
“I am the father of three school-aged girls and my wife is a school teacher. Their safety in the classroom depends on real-time coordination between teachers, administrators, first responders and, God forbid, law enforcement,” Anavitarte said. “My legislation will ensure that the panic alert systems connect school systems with disparate emergency services technologies at a single public service answering point just like 911 calls.
Anavitarte said the silent mobile panic alert functionality of these systems will also decrease the opportunity for hoaxes “like we experienced with the 911 system last year.”
Several schools in Georgia and surrounding states are already using some sort of panic or alert system in the event of a school shooter or emergency.
Tift County Schools in South Georgia uses the Centegix alert system, which allows every faculty member with a badge to institute a lockdown wherever they are in a school.
“If they see something out of the ordinary they can report it. If they see someone walking up to the school with a gun, (they are) able to push that button and lock the school down immediately,” Adam Hathaway, superintendent for TCS, said in a June 2022 CNHI interview. “The faster we’re able to react and put time and space between us and the shooter, the better. If we lock a door, that slows them down.”
Anavitarte said the silent mobile panic alert functionality of the proposed system would decrease the opportunity for hoaxes like those experienced with the 911 system on Nov. 30, 2022, when several school systems across Georgia were the victims of coordinated, but false reports of school shooters.
“This legislation would improve law enforcement efforts when responding to an emergency,” said Matthew Rollins, district attorney for the Paulding Judicial Circuit, in a news release. “By ensuring all relevant agencies are receiving updated and accurate information, law enforcement response to our schools will be dramatically improved.”
If approved by legislators, the bill would require schools to implement the “Alyssa Alert,” a mobile panic alert system by July 2024. The state’s Department of Administrative Services would be required to issue bid solicitations by Dec. 1.
Similar statewide legislation has been signed into law in Florida and New Jersey, with other versions of Alyssa’s Law pending in Arizona, Nebraska and Texas.