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LA school police collaborate with tech developer on safety assessment

Craig Clough | September 16, 2015

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While LA Unified may still be struggling to integrate its iPads and other digital devices into the classroom, its police department has found a few useful things to do with theirs.

Members of the Los Angeles School Police Department, working collaboratively with Haystax Technology, developed a school safety assessment tool that specially trained officers are using on iPads in the field to help identify crime and safety vulnerabilities at district schools.

The district began conducing vulnerability assessments at campuses four years ago under  the guidance of Sgt. Stephen Mayoral, a 15-year department veteran.

“It mainly came from after-action reports that have come from some major incidents at various campuses, such as Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, those type of things. And all of them said that they recommended those institutions conduct a vulnerability assessment,” Mayoral said.

The threat assessments don’t just look for vulnerabilities to spree shootings but any and all crime and safety vulnerabilities, Mayoral said. An example would be a school that has four gates open during the beginning of school.

“One of the suggestions we might make is to reduce that to maybe one or two gates open, with a staff member monitoring the gate to see who enters the campus,” Mayoral said.

Twelve specially trained officers, known as school site evaluators, share seven iPads in conducting the assessments and so far have completed work at 20 campuses. Previously, the work was done on paper in a process that was cumbersome, Mayoral said. Now, the app allows for easier sharing, as the information is put into a cloud-based data system that can be also ccessed by outside public safety agencies that are authorized to use the tool.

“LASPD is truly a pioneer in the area of school safety,” Haystax CEO William B. Van Vleet III said in a statement. “We hope other school districts across the nation will follow their lead and give schools the tools they need to make informed decisions about how best to protect students and staff.”

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