Direct Radio Communication Was a Lifesaver in Colorado’s STEM School Shooting

In Douglas County, Colorado, Sheriff Tony Spurlock told NBC news that the May 7th shooting inside the STEM School Highlands Ranch school could have been much worse—had it not been for a direct radio link between the school and police.

“They have one of our radios and they have communication directly to a dispatch center and they immediately notified us that there was an active shooter in the school,” Spurlock said Wednesday. “That went over all of our comms so everyone was able to hear it immediately. That saves minutes to notify people.”

Police arrived less than two minutes after reports of gunfire, immediately taking one of the attackers into custody. The speed of the response was due in large part to the direct radio link.

“I believe those things made a huge difference in saving lives,” Spurlock said.

Our partners at Motorola are developing innovative solutions for faster, more efficient communications, so school personnel can upgrade their school safety planning and seamlessly connect to first responders and other educators before, during, and after an emergency.

In one of the company’s initiatives, Motorola is teaming up with SchoolSAFE to offer a web-enabled two-way radio-based solution that connects school radio systems and public safety radio systems during an emergency, allowing emergency services personnel and school officials to talk in real-time during an incident. Today, some schools have only one method to contact police, with a local phone call. Calling 9-1-1 usually gets the school location information to authorities; however, once the responders are en route or arrive at the school, there is no clear line of communication for them to quickly assess the situation and find the exact location of the event to gain control of the incident. SchoolSAFE lets the principal, administrator, security staff or others at the school talk directly to the responders.

While the benefits of programs such as SchoolSAFE are clear, we know it can be a challenge for school districts to fund safety initiatives. In a recent survey conducted by Motorola, 92 percent of educators ranked creating a secure school environment a top priority, yet just 25 percent of survey respondents said they have the capabilities to keep students and staff safe and secure.

That’s why we’re constantly keeping an eye out for grants and other funding mechanisms that become available—from both Motorola and from other sources—so our customers can take advantage of every opportunity to create safer environments.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you use today’s communication technology to increase safety and security in your district.