Cuero schools get new tool against violence
April 23, 2013 at 8:05 p.m.
Updated April 23, 2013 at 11:24 p.m.
CUERO - An icon of a badge on a computer desktop is the latest tool to help prevent tragedies on school campuses.
The badge icon is part of COPsync 911, new software being installed on faculty and staff computers in the Cuero school district.
If an emergency arises, clicking on the icon will notify the five patrol cars closest to the campus that also use COPsync software.
Clicking on the badge also calls 911 and alerts the school's administrator.
A chat room opens on both the computer and in the patrol cars to allow instant communication.
The system also provides a map and driving directions to the school, if needed, as well as a diagram of the campus to specify the exact location of the computer that activated the alert.
Cuero will only be the second school district in the state to incorporate the software. Pharr was the first.
"It's another tool in addition to our resource officers and enhanced security cameras on our campuses," said Cuero Superintendent Jim Haley.
"The one-touch system will make it easy to use. That will make it more expedient and easy to access. That icon will be wherever we are."
The software will be downloaded on all district computers under the control of faculty or staff.
Incorporating the system in the school district is being made possible by the Cuero Police Department, which began using COPsync last fall.
"The timing was perfect to offer this service to the school district," said Police Chief Jay Lewis. "It was right after the Sandy Hook incident. It will probably cut our response time in half. We can be en route to the situation before we fully know what the situation is."
The city of Cuero paid $78,000 for the initial COPsync hardware and software and pays $1,200 annually for maintenance, monitoring and upgrades.
The school district will also pay a $1,200 annual fee per campus.
Lewis said his department has been using the software to run vehicle registration information, stolen vehicle information and wanted person information.
"We can now do all that from the patrol cars," he said.
On Tuesday, the co-founders of COPsync, Russell Chaney and Shane Rapp, held a news conference in Cuero to announce the introduction of COPsync 911 into the Cuero school district.
"The same technology that was originally designed to protect law enforcement will now be the first line of defense for our schools and school children," Rapp said. "It will arm our teachers with technology and not weapons.
"We at COPsync believe this technology will ultimately save lives in the event this system is ever deployed."