Will “Silent Alarms” Be The Next Tool In School Security?

In-school “silent alarms,” designed to better respond to on-premises emergencies, are a coming wave – and possible mandate – in the push for enhanced school security.

help-153094__480The US House of Representatives is considering legislation to mandate that all public schools be outfitted with “silent alarms” to better prepare for emergencies. The device is designed as a quick, but quiet, means to alert the nearest authority of an impending or ongoing emergency situation.

H.R. 3665, styled as the “School Violence Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2019,” has been introduced by Representatives Williams (R-TX) abd Deutsch (D-FL). A description of the bill is hosted on a New Jersey advocacy site, KeepNJSafe.org:

The School Violence Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2019 authorizes $2 billion over 10 years for schools to first identify security risks and then address any shortfalls.
  1. Independent Facility Security Risk Assessments
    • Establishes a grant program, administered by the Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), that funds independent facility security risk assessments, conducted by experts, for individual public schools.
    • The grant will cover 100% of the cost to conduct the assessment.
  2. Hard Security Improvements
    • Establishes a grant program, administered by COPS, that funds hard security improvements for individual public schools based upon a previously conducted assessment.
    • The grant will cover 50% of cost, unless the school receives a financial hardship waiver from the COPS Director.
  3. All schools will be required to install at least one silent panic alarm for use in a school security emergency, like an active shooter situation. The panic alarm, when activated, will directly alert the closest law enforcement agency of an emergency.

New Jersey recently adopted a law requiring similar equipment in all schools. According to a report on Education Dive:

  • The state of New Jersey passed a similar law, called Alyssa’s Law, in February that requires all of the state’s 2,500 public schools to install at least one silent panic alarm.

  • The New Jersey law was named after Alyssa Alhadeff, a former student at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who was among the 17 killed during a school shooting in February 2018.

For more information about the topic, see Education Dive.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties