It’s a topic that people are still talking about, the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, which killed 17 people. It’s started a nationwide discussion on how to respond to incidents like this and how to prevent them in the future. And that’s a good discussion to have.  I wanted to let you know what we’re doing in San Luis Obispo County to keep our schools safe.  We didn’t just start this process as a response to the latest school shooting. We’ve been working on developing a comprehensive plan for the last three years.

The first step was providing tools for the best training possible for the law enforcement members of the County.  This was accomplished through the purchase of the VirTra 300 which is a state of the art use of force simulator and an I-Combat Laser training system.  Both of these systems enhance the training regarding active shooter incidents and they are available to all law enforcement personnel for training. 

The second step involved mapping the majority of the schools within our County utilizing a consistent format and terminology.  This allows all of the law enforcement personnel who would be responding to an active shooter incident to be using the same maps, protocols and communication standards. 

The third step, and the one that’s generating the most interest, is to provide a tool (the RAVE Panic Button Smart Phone Application) to every school employee that allows them to immediately connect to the 911 Dispatch Center for their school and at the same time send a message to the other employees on campus of the incident.  Using Department of Homeland Security grants, we’ve been able to buy 3,200 licenses of the app to supply to every school employee at every school in the County.  If there is an active shooter situation at a school, all the school employee has to do is press a big red button on the app.  Not only does it connect them to the 911 Dispatch Center, it also has a GPS function which allows law enforcement to pinpoint the exact location of the incident on campus.

Steps 1 and 2 are complete.  Step 3 regarding the RAVE App is in the process of being completed.  The San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office is currently having a new server and other IT equipment installed in their 911 Dispatch Center for the RAVE App to work.  The next process is to get the RAVE App operational at three Schools to test it and work out any problems before rolling it out to all of the other schools.  The three test schools have been identified as Nipomo High School, Coast Union High School and Templeton High School.  The goal is to have the RAVE App operational at these three schools by the end of April 2018.  Once this process is complete, servers will be installed at the other jurisdictions 911 Dispatch Centers in the County and roll out the RAVE App for all the other schools in the County with a completion date scheduled by the start of the new school year.  We are the first County in California to roll out this new technology. 

All three of these steps have been made possible through the cooperation and participation of the seven police chiefs of the cities within the County and the pursuit of Federal grant funding from Homeland Security with no costs to the County General Fund.

I’m confident, if you polled law enforcement agencies around the state, nobody is prepared as we are when it comes to these types of situations. It’s unfortunate that school shootings are becoming more and more a part of our lives. I’m hopeful, it never happens here. My goal is to never have to use any part of this plan.