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COPsync Network Could Help Protect Against Terrorist Attacks

Until September 11, 2001, most Americans conceptualized terrorist attacks as something that happened occasionally in distant countries, but a series of orchestrated attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, and the plane headed for Washington, DC, but crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, brought an abstract concept into sharp reality.  We now believe that terrorism is an imminent threat to our families, our American institutions and ourselves.  The events of 9/11 were also the deadliest for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 343 and 72 killed respectively.  First responders have suffered devastating health impacts from 9/11 toxic debris including throat and neck cancers, lung disease, thyroid cancer, and blood cancers in the years since the attacks.

Domestically and internationally, a number of agencies were newly formed or strengthened in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, yet the world watched in horror a few short weeks ago as ISIS attacked Paris. Even though the attacks took place on French soil, they were strategically planned to include an international soccer game, where the president of France was in attendance, and the venue for an American rock band.  I am sure many people would agree with me that while these attacks occurred on French soil, they were leveled at the citizens of the world.  Terrorists and other criminals capitalize on not only the short-term violence they create, but also the long-term fear generated by their actions.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), other departments within the Federal government and state agencies throughout the United States are increasingly focused on securing the nation’s border, protecting our citizens from criminals and preventing terrorist attacks.   COPsync, Inc. (Nasdaq: COYN), headquartered in Dallas, TX, which operates the nation’s largest law enforcement in-car information sharing and communication network and the COPsync911 threat alert service for schools, government buildings, hospitals and other potentially at-risk facilities, could play a substantial role in thwarting terrorism.  Most people are surprised to learn that U.S. state and local law enforcement agencies typically have independent record-keeping and communication systems that are not linked in any way.  This inability to have cross-jurisdictional communication for the approximately 18,000 police agencies in the United States could result in preventable officer deaths and injuries, and global criminals and terrorists moving undetected within the United States or across international borders.  As the world has shifted into a global economy and schoolchildren can now work collaboratively and communicate across cultures and time zones, it is time for law enforcement and federal agencies to do the same.

A Call to Action: “Lock Down” is No Longer Enough

Imagine the first terrifying moments of a deadly threat incident on a school campus:  confusion and panic replace the calm, orderliness of an ordinary school day.  Students and faculty may hear a hail of gunfire, terrified screams, or empty silence.  Virtually every school in the United States responds the same way to this situation:  lock down, shelter-in-place, and hope the shooter does not find you.

An active shooter at a school is one of the most horrifying realities that modern society faces.  Many lives are at risk in a contained, defenseless space, and a deadly threat incident is unpredictable and advances quickly.  For these reasons, the Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations, a multi-agency document created by the U.S. Department of Education, FEMA, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, states that “…individuals must be prepared to deal with an active shooter situation before law enforcement officers arrive on scene” (p. 57).  In the first crucial minutes of a deadly threat incident on a school campus, teachers are the first responders.

According to the National Latino Law Enforcement Organization in Enhancing Teachers’ Response to Active Threats, we think of police officers, firefighters, and EMTs, and not teachers as first responders.  The cold reality however is that deadly incidents in schools are often over before the police can respond.  Training students, teachers, and staff to respond in an emergency will increase their odds of survival.

For almost twenty years I taught in public schools and at a large university that prepares future teachers; I know of no pre-service or extensive in-service training that shows teachers how to think tactically and respond appropriately to deadly situations on campus.  Let that sink in for a moment.  We expect schools to be safe havens for our children, but most teachers have no training in how to respond to an emergency, let alone what do if there is an active shooter.  As parents, we should be ashamed that we have not demanded more in terms of our children’s safety.

There are of course exceptions.  The ALICE Training Institute proposes training that goes beyond the traditional lock down and includes proactive responses to threats like active resistance—fighting back with objects of opportunity such as desks, chairs, and books, as well as barricading and evacuating. Both the ALICE Training Institute and the Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations recommend steps beyond the traditional lock down and shelter-in-place response to an active shooter, and a school district that fails to provide defense strategies in addition to the lock down procedure are not meeting federal guidelines for school safety.

There should be a multi-pronged approach to school safety.  Law enforcement and schools working/training together prior to an incident can increase interoperability during a deadly threat incident.  Experts also call for stronger lines of communication between teachers and law enforcement during an attack on a campus.  One method for better communication between teachers and law enforcement is through the COPsync911 system.  School staff can activate COPsync911from a computer or smart device.  The system sends an immediate and silent alert to other staff, officers in their patrol cars, and the 9-1-1 dispatch center.  All participants can communicate in a crisis communication portal as the situation unfolds, helping teachers become the initial first responders.  Officers are also notified faster than traditional 9-1-1, have immediate access to a mapped location of the school, as well as diagram of the school’s interior.

Parents, schools, and teachers do not want to think about worst-case scenarios, but we simply must in order to protect our children.  Law enforcement is responsible for the safety of our communities, but as members of a community, we are responsible for holding our schools accountable to federal safety recommendations.  A lock down is no longer an appropriate response to an active shooter, and teachers need the tools and training to become the initial first responders in a school crisis.

Is There a War on Police?

I am a member of the blue family.  I am a police widow; my husband was shot and killed in the line of duty 15 years ago.  My father-in-law is retired law enforcement.  Many of my friends are cops.  I recently left a university where I had been teaching for nearly a decade to work for COPsync, Inc., a technology company dedicated to the safety of law enforcement.  Every day I struggle with the reality that one of my friends could die in the service of their job.  As a writer and researcher, and I have tried to bring the parts of me that are a social scientist to the question “Is there a war on police?”  I am inside the story and not a casual observer; all the more reason my voice should be heard.

Several weeks ago, the Washington Post ran the online article Once Again: There is No ‘War on Cops.’ And those who claim otherwise are playing a dangerous gameI encourage everyone to read the article, comments to the article, as well as read the linked articles and watch the embedded video posts. The gist of the primary article, though, is that the “war on police” is a fictitious political ploy of conservative politicians and media, and that the dangerous rhetoric of the right is creating a culture of fear for law enforcement.  From my perspective, I am quite certain groups that publicly call for the death of police officers (https://youtu.be/K0LYvnqyIZc), individuals who assassinate members of law enforcement, and silence from national leaders is creating the culture of fear.

I do wish to celebrate the fact that line of duty deaths are at an historic low, and deaths by gunfire are on trend to be 23% lower than last year (www.odmp.org).  However, statistics are of no consolation to a grieving spouse, a parent who outlived their child, a child set adrift by the loss of a parent, or a police officer wracked by survivor’s guilt.  Any life lost in the line of duty is one too many.

Social scientists give much credence to the idea of lived experience.  Setting aside the dueling media, a variety of activist groups, and increasing anti-police rhetoric, let’s examine the reality of day-to-day policing.  When your lived experience is such that you holster a gun on your hip, strap on a bullet resistant vest, and spend your entire work day tactically examining how to keep yourself safe….you are at war.