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New Apps Let Teachers Alert Police To School Shootings

By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- After the Sandy Hook massacre, schools across the country took stock of their security measures and are considering what changes need to be made to ensure the safety of students. That includes keeping up with technology -- like new apps which directly connect teachers with police.

Hero911 for cops and SchoolGuard for educators keep it simple: a teacher hits a panic button on his or her mobile device.

"Their app immediately dials 911, it simultaneously notifies every teacher's smartphone within that school building, and it bursts the alert to every law enforcement officer within a ten-mile radius," says Michael Snyders. He's a former Illinois State Trooper who now heads the Social Protection Network Foundation, which is behind Hero911.

The free app, for iPhone and Android, also alerts off-duty and certified retired officers in the area:

"We're dramatically increasing the pool of police officers that could be available and in a position to stop a threat," Snyders explains.

He says the link could give cops up to an 80-second head start on the 911 dispatch process.

Hero911 was released within the past month and Snyders says it is already being used by six federal agencies and police in about two dozen states, with hopes more will sign up.

"There is a vetting process: the app can't be activated until we review the registration and credentials that are submitted, and we have an email exchange to verify in fact that the officer is a certified officer or certified retiree," Snyders says. "The bottom line is if you're a police officer, do you want to be notified -- yes or no -- if you're nearby a school shooting? The most obvious answer is absolutely."

Schools pay $99/month to outfit the smartphones of as many teachers and administrators as they like with SchoolGuard.

Snyders says Hero911 doesn't track the whereabouts of cops. "And it's critical that the officers know that this tool is not replacing 911," he explains, "but it is in fact complimenting 911 and other police communication tools. This simply bursts out a very timely alert to the officers, and then it's on them to communicate with the agencies and follow their department protocols."

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