If you see something, send something.”
Send a message, that is, via a free mobile phone app that’s designed for school safety.
On Tuesday, the Broward Sheriff’s Office introduced its new app, “SaferWatch,” just in time for the new school year.
The app can be used by parents, faculty, students and community members to report bullying, suspicious activity, or other safety concerns. Besides messages, users can submit photos and video that could be helpful to law enforcement.
“We want students, parents and faculty to know we’re engaged, and our main focus is to keep schools and children safe,” said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel at the news conference. The initiative is focused on school safety, but information and alerts eventually will be expanded to include Broward communities, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
To find the Broward app, search for “SaferWatch” in Apple’s App Store or Google Play. Or find information online at BrowardAlerts.com.
The Sheriff’s Office said the app, which was available last week, already has about 1,000 users. Maj. Jonathan Appel, who demonstrated the app at the news conference, said the Sheriff’s Office already has had a tip via the app about a student who needed help. The school, its resource officer and social services were notified, he said.
Messages sent via SaferWatch can be submitted either with the user’s name or anonymously. But if there is a criminal investigation, “we have the ability in our user agreement to pursue that information,” Appel said.
The Criminal Investigations Division of the Sheriff’s Office will be monitoring the tips, he said.
Users will get information and alerts only about the school or schools they have registered on the app. “What’s unique about this app is our ability to send out continued updates,” Appel said.
The launch of the app comes about six months after the Parkland school shooting on Feb. 14.
Geno Roefaro, a Boca Raton consultant whose company SaferWatch developed the Broward app, said it took about six months to develop to include more than 400 schools. Roefaro said he has built similar apps for some undisclosed Florida agencies and a Massachusetts school district.
The app was developed for free by Roefaro, who said he expects his partnership with Broward will bring other business his way.
Palm Beach County launched its school safety app in March, and it has had a community safety app since 2017.
Palm Beach County was first in the tricounty region to launch an app specifically for school safety after the Parkland tragedy. Known as the “StudentProtect” app, it was a collaboration between the Palm Beach County School District, the district’s school police department and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. It was designed for parents, staff and faculty to report threats and suspicious activity and receive instant safety alerts on specific schools.
For the app, search “PBC StudentProtect” on your mobile phone.