As the school year begins, Department of Public Safety programs are working to make Missouri schools safer

August 24, 2023

As the school year begins, Department of Public Safety programs are working to make Missouri schools safer

JEFFERSON CITY – As students return to school this month, Missouri Department of Public Safety team members and funding are helping to strengthen school safety through technology, information sharing and training in order prevent violence from arising and to support quick and effective responses when safety is threatened.

“Missouri school children should have the opportunity to learn in safe and secure schools,” Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten said. “The Department of Public Safety, our law enforcement partners and educators across the state are working to expand communication, information sharing and training to protect students, teachers and staff. The Missouri school emergency alert app that Governor Mike Parson announced in the spring and our DPS active shooter training partnership with Missouri State University are new programs in 2023; the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Courage2Report hotline is an established program that students and others continue to utilize to share information in order to intervene and prevent school disruptions.”

School Mobile Emergency Alert App

On May 10, Governor Mike Parson announced the state was providing funding to make a mobile emergency alert app available to all public school districts and charter schools in Missouri. To date, 143 Missouri school districts and charter schools, representing 830 school buildings, have signed up to take advantage of the program. Raptor Technologies, the vendor providing the service to Missouri, says all those schools should have their customized alert programs implemented as classes begin.

Utilizing technology that schools already have in place, the app expedites and streamlines an emergency response by allowing teachers and other school staff to quickly initiate an alert through their mobile device or computer. The silent alert works directly with 911 to provide critical information, such as the location within a school that the app was activated and school campus maps, to first responders, law enforcement, and campus personnel within seconds. Additionally, districts are able to schedule and manage their ongoing safety drills using the Raptor software.

Districts that sign up with Raptor by Sept. 1 could have training completed and the app enabled for use as early as October. Districts can begin the signup process here. Many other school district have chosen to continue utilizing similar alerting services through their own funding.

Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT)

In January, DPS partnered with Missouri State University to provide free active shooter training to law enforcement agencies across the state utilizing the national standard for active shooter training. The curriculum is through the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center, based at Texas State University. In 2013, the FBI named the ALERRT curriculum the national standard for active shooter response training. To date, $50,000 in funding through DPS has helped MSU provide eight training sessions around Missouri. Three additional training sessions are currently planned. The grant funding is provided by the United States Department of Justice. Additional funding from DOJ will continue the program into next year.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Active Shooter Response Training

Like many Missouri law enforcement training academies, the Missouri State Highway Patrol requires that each Patrol recruit undergo active threat response training. The Patrol requires 12 hours of active threat response training at the MSHP Law Enforcement Training Academy. In addition, since 2021, all existing troopers and commercial vehicle officers are required to participate in an active threat response course of at least four hours each year. Since 2021, the Patrol has also provided active threat response training at no cost to 257 law enforcement officers from 58 different non-Patrol agencies across Missouri.

Courage2Report School Safety Hotline

The Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Courage2Report hotline received more than 1,350 tips about school safety concerns from Aug. 1, 2022 to July 31, 2023. Courage2Report provides a safe and confidential way for students to report concerns, including about assaults, bullying/repeated harassment, cyber bullying and guns. Those reporting their concerns may remain anonymous. Tips to Courage2Report can be provided by calling 866-748-7047, texting C2R to 738477, through the Courage2Report mobile app, or online here.

Courage2Report is staffed 24/7 so that students (or anyone) can report a school violence concern and communicate with a security analyst about an issue.