INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb likes the idea of making state funding available to schools and counties across Indiana that want to copy the school safety alert system already being used throughout Porter County and parts of Lake and Jasper counties.
The Republican chief executive has signed into law House Enrolled Act 1225, permitting county sheriffs and local school corporations to request grants from the Indiana Secured School Fund to set up active event warning systems modeled on the Porter County system.
According to Porter County Sheriff David Reynolds, when a school leader triggers the system in an emergency situation — such as an active shooter — all area on- and off-duty law enforcement at the local, state and federal levels are notified through a mobile phone application.
The officers then can travel directly to the school without waiting to be dispatched by a 911 operator, and use their electronic key fob to access the building to immediately neutralize a threat, or to aid students and teachers attempting to flee.
When the system is activated, the sheriff's office also gains access to live video feeds from inside the school building, and can use them to direct the law enforcement response.
"We can all agree that if there is an active shooter in one of our schools, time is of the essence," said state Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, a co-sponsor of the new law.
"This application is proven to be effective in helping first responders get an emergency alert, respond and identify the threat more quickly. This application is a no-brainer for our schools in the event of a shooting or any other emergency situation."
The Porter County program cost about $80,000, and was covered using local funds and revenue from criminal asset forfeitures, according to Reynolds.
The state's Secured School Fund has nearly $10 million available for grants to support this program and other school safety initiatives.