Sheriff unveils new RAVE safety app for schools

The RAVE app has five simple panic buttons to press and hold to be immediately connected to 911. (Contributed photo)

TEMPLETON — San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson held a press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at Templeton High School, one of the beta sites, to showcase the new RAVE Panic Button Smartphone App available to most schools in SLO County. This is the final piece of a three-prong plan.
Five minutes is the average length of time that an active shooter incident takes place, said Parkinson at the conference. This RAVE app is designed to immediately alert law enforcement of an active shooter incident on a school campus and shorten the response window. The SLO County Sheriff’s Office is the first agency in the state to offer this app countywide.
Grateful for the technology, Parkinson added, ”frankly we hope we never have to use this app.”
In a previous interview, Parkinson shared that he met with the county’s police chiefs a few years ago and together they created a three-year plan to improve response and notification of training with local schools and were able to fund training and equipment through the Department of Homeland Security.
“Even though we are representing separate entities, the chiefs and I have always been on the same page on what we collectively we wanted to do,” Parkinson said then. “If a deputy and an officer were the first ones on the scene, they’re going in together right away and that training is really imperative,” Parkinson said.
The RAVE app is part of that plan. The first step was providing tools for effective active-shooter training for all law enforcement members of the County. This was done with the VirTra 300, a use of force simulator and an I-Combat Laser training system.
The second step involved mapping the majority of the schools within the County utilizing a consistent format and terminology.
The RAVE smartphone app is the third step and will use a “geofence” — basically an invisible boundary line. Outside the fence, the app would provide a button to activate a regular 911 call, but within school boundaries, the button changes to allow for an active shooter alert and can give the person’s physical location on campus in real time. It also allows staff and law enforcement to communicate with all the staff members in real time.
“That sometimes is the mystery because if you think about a school environment, with all the buildings and hallways, rounds going off could exit all over and no one truly knows where it’s coming from,” Parkinson said previously. “With the button, it gives us the ability to have someone to say it’s occurring right here, and we know where here is without a description.”
The Sheriff’s Office installed new equipment at its dispatch center in the Spring that works with the RAVE app. Templeton High School was one of the first to be tested in the beta phase.
During the press conference, Parkinson said this was all made possible because of the partnerships with the school. James J. Brescia, Superintendent with the SLO County Office of Education said, “This is one tool in our tool belt to ensure safety and communication throughout our county. We come together as one. Adequate and complete communication is vital to ensure we have a connected and safe community.”
The app is provided to school employees to immediately communicate to 911 dispatch, at the same time it will notify other staff of the incident. “By making sure that all of all of our faculty and staff is informed they can implement protocols and lockdown procedures that each school drills for annually,” added Brescia.
The Sheriff’s Office was able to buy 3,200 licenses of the app to supply every school employee at nearly every school in the County. The app also has other functions like informing of medical emergencies, which according to the RAVE company is the most-used button.
All three of these steps have been made possible through the cooperation and participation of the seven police chiefs within the County, the collaboration with each school superintendent and school administrator in the County, and the pursuit of federal grant funding from Homeland Security with no costs to the County’s General Fund.
For more information on the RAVE mobile safety app, visit www.ravemobilesafety.com.

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