Okaloosa County SaferWatch App

Okaloosa County sheriff, school district announces new school safety app

OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. -- The Okaloosa County School District and Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office announced a new school safety tool on Wednesday.

Superintendent Marcus Chambers and Sheriff Eric Aden held a press conference to speak on the tool designed to save lives.

The SaferWatch app is only for school staff at their specific schools. It allows staff to immediately notify law enforcement if they're in a tough situation.

Chambers says the heart of school safety in his district begins with the sheriff's office.

"For a school district, many might say our number one priority is educating students, but all of that pails in comparison if we haven't kept our students safe," Chambers said.

The sheriff's office says the app allows law enforcement to cut response time in half.

"SaferWatch is a web and mobile-based security system that was built to provide a higher level of safety for individuals and enhance security for organizations including schools, corporations, public venues, neighborhoods, and communities," SaferWatch says on its website. "SaferWatch empowers users to report an incident as they see it happening or submit a tip at a later time."

The SaferWatch app allows for quicker response and a more precise location of a threat.

Sheriff Eric Aden says legislation prompted by the attack at Majority Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 is what led to this technology in Florida schools.

"It doesn't overload our dispatch, we have a dispatcher that can receive multiple pieces of information at one time and be able to distribute that information and if any teachers are in a situation like at Marjory Stoneman where they were fearful of making a phone call, make text messages, we didn't have that capability before," Sheriff Aden said.

The app also uses geo-fencing technology that will only track users' locations from within the rand of their school, it can only be used on school grounds.

A member of the school district has already used the app at least once for a faculty member that suffered a head injury.

It's not required for teachers and staff to download the app but is strongly recommended.

School Safety