FL schools on deadline to install ‘panic buttons’ on campus

Jacksonville, Fla. — It went down as the third deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, Florida claimed the life of 17 students. This year marked the three year anniversary of that deadly day.

It also marks the year of change. Alyssa’s Law is named after one of the victims of the Parkland shooting. The legislation will require Florida public and charter schools to implement silent, panic alert systems on campus. It will quickly contact nearby law enforcement, and schools have six months to get it in place.

“Basically what this law is doing is it comes out of a tragedy,” Assistant Chief Wayne Clark said. He is the acting director of police for Duval County Public Schools. “They hit a button and the button will immediately notify the Sheriffs office 911 center. It will notify the school police communication center.”

Clark said DCPS will meet the six month deadline and plans are already in the works. Rather than an actual button, the system will be an app on your phone.

“The button is with you everywhere you go,” Clark said.

He added that it was designed with Parkland in mind. “Some of the challenges with Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, the responders didn’t know exactly where to go. That caused the time delay. That caused them to miss an opportunity to more quickly bring medical help for a law enforcement  help,” Clark said. This app will have a GPS locator. It will not only know who signals law enforcement to the emergency, but also where they are inside the school. It can also be used for other emergencies.

“It’s not just always for an active shooter emergency,” Jim Culbert, Chief Information Officer for DCPS, said. “It could also be a medical emergency in the classroom it could be just someone seeking out help.”

Action News Jax also reached out to other counties about their plans.

St. Johns County sent us this statement, “we are currently awaiting guidance from the state on vendors that will provide this service. We fully intend to comply with Alyssa’s Law.”

Baker County said, “The Baker County School District is in compliance. Due to the sensitive nature of these systems, we will not be disclosing any additional information.”

Clay County is ahead of the curve. Action  News Jax told you back in 2019 when the district implemented the app, Mutualink. In a statement, the district spokesperson added they are working to find out what else the district needs to do to comply with the new law.

We reached out to Nassau County School District, but have not yet heard back.