High school tests panic-button app in active-shooter drill

By: Lindsay Marchello - Carolina Journal

RALEIGH — Hoke County High School in Raeford caught a glimpse of what an active shooter situation might look like during a Monday drill. It was an opportunity for school officials and the local police department to test out the Rave Panic Button app.

Rave Mobile Safety designed the app five years ago as a way to bridge the gap between school staff and law enforcement. The app allows a person to instantly alert 9-1-1 dispatchers of an emergency, whether it’s a medical issue or an active shooter. An alert is also sent to everyone in the area with the app. Updates go out as the situation changes.

“The Rave Panic Button is a really great technology that we can put in the hands of faculty and staff members here in Hoke county and across the state,” Todd Miller, COO of Rave Mobile Safety, said. “It is a great communication tool that can prevent active shooters.”

Miller said several tests have been done that show the app can cut response time by more than 50 percent.

“It is a reduction in response time that is so critical in these types of emergencies,” Miller said.

Hoke County is one of two North Carolina counties going digital to protect their schools. Henderson County schools announced last week that every faculty member will have access to the app.

Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin led the charge to get the Rave app to the 14 schools in the county. Everyone from teachers to custodians has access to the app.

“One of the biggest concerns in every county right now is school safety.” Peterkin said. “Anything we can do to minimize the threat, to minimize someone getting hurt or killed, is important.”

Peterkin said it’s important not to get stuck in traditional ways of thinking about addressing school safety.

“One thing we have to remember is that most times people who commit crimes do the research. They look at technology,” Peterkin said. “They case out your schools and your neighborhoods. They are looking at new, innovative ways to commit crimes.”

Peterkin said school districts and law enforcement are doing the same by embracing technology to find innovative ways to protect schools.

The cost of implementing the app was around $20,000. The Hoke County Sheriff’s Office split the cost with the school system.

Peterkin said the demonstration was an opportunity to see the app in action.

One deputy posed as an active shooter and fired a few blank rounds in the hallway of the school. A school staff member pressed the Rave Panic Button. Within three minutes officers were on site to find and apprehend the shooter. At least 15 law enforcement officers — with more on their way — searched every room of the school until the all clear was given.

Peterkin said the app is only one way to protect Hoke county schools. He hopes to integrate Rave with security cameras in all the schools. As soon as the button is pushed, local law enforcement can use the school cameras.

“Right now law enforcement has to go into the school blind,” Peterkin said. “When we integrate the cameras we’ll be able to see the shooter and get a description, so when an officer goes in he’ll know where [the suspect] is in the building and what he looks like.”

Details of integrating the cameras still need to be worked out, but Peterkin said he hopes to have that done sometime this year.

Lindsay Marchello is a staff writer for Carolina Journal.

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Lindsay Marchello

Carolina Journal