AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A system that could stop school shooters before they ever enter a classroom isn’t being used much. It’s called iWatch, and it lets people anonymously report suspicious activity.
It’s been around since 2013 but started taking in school safety-related threats in 2018. However, as you see in the graph below, just a few of all the reports are related to schools.
“Okay, let me see how to get back there…” Jennifer Skloss, a parent of three said, as she learned how to use the iWatch app.
She downloaded it on her phone on Wednesday.
“Let’s say it’s school related,” Skloss said, as she selected a section she wanted to explore.
Though the state launched it about 10 years ago, Skloss knew nothing about the program until Reporter Jala Washington told her about it.
Since the program expanded to include school-related tips, only about 750 of these types of reports have been made. The state wants to do more outreach, so more people know about iWatch.
“The Department of Public Safety, Texas Education Agency and Higher Education Coordinating Board, received a letter from the governor that directed us to get together to figure out how to best market this,” Dale Avant, chief of DPS’s Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division, said.
In a House committee meeting Monday, Avant said they’re working with schools to “aggressively market” the program to schools.
He didn’t say how exactly they planned to go about that. However, he did give insight this won’t work without districts stepping up.
“It’s up to the schools to decide how to aggressively market this to parents and students,” Avant said. “The system is very capable … to be effective … it needs to have reporting coming into it.”
Parents like Skloss, who have middle schoolers about to return to school, said more parents should take advantage of the program.
“I think information could go home with kids at school, or maybe they could go … in school newsletters,” Skloss said.