Lancaster approves new school threat safety app | #schoolsaftey

LANCASTER, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A new app called SaferWatch that aims to help law enforcement verify threats in the community is headed to some South Carolina schools. 

Lancaster County School District faculty and administrators would be able to upload videos, pictures and audio to the app, then first responders would notify the public and get people to safety. Officials say it would take about six months for each school to be fully in place.

“We would have it in all of our facilities,” one LCSD official said at a School Board meeting last month. “They’ve got everything in place to implement everything that we need. … Maybe the end of the ’24 school year. Definitely the start of 24-25.” 

It would cost the district $91,000 in the first year, and an additional $65,000 each year for maintenance. 

Tonya Ross has been an advocate for safer schools for years. While she likes the idea of the app, she’s critical of the money spent on another security device with no thorough apparent research or feedback. 

“We don’t know what it is,” she told Queen City News. “The assistant principals in all the schools and the principals, don’t know what it is. They need more data on it, so we can figure out what it is that we’re investing in and spend the taxpayers’ dollars on because that’s more important.” 

Ross is concerned that the money the district requires to maintain the app will only increase and hurt neighbors’ pockets. She believes there are still other security measures to be explored. 

District school board member Melvin Stroble says he wonders how the app will work when some schools have internet usage issues. 

“A lot of our buildings have the metal roofs and metal in the structure, and that was hurting our self-service and also our radio being able to talk back and forth,” he said. “We’re looking at doing some different things with some radios to test them out now, but as far as safer watch goes, it supposedly puts up a tower at each school to help out with the monitoring of the 911 calls.” 

Stroble moved to postpone the motion to accept SaferWatch until the November board meeting to give administrators an opportunity to review the app and give feedback. It was denied. 

We reached out to the district for comment on the app, but have yet to hear back.  

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