Sheriff maps his county schools for crises

Sheriff maps his county schools for crises

Florida county officers access emergency info, floor plans on notebooks

By Donna Young

GCN Staff

When school violence erupts, law enforcement response time is critical.

Broward Deputy John Hasko uses a notebook app developed by the Sheriff's Office to view floor plans of local schools.

But if police officers don't know a school's layout, entering the building can be like navigating a deadly maze.

The Broward County, Fla., Sheriff's Office has adopted a new notebook PC application that includes detailed floor plans of each county school.

Each deputy and SWAT team officer uses, as standard equipment, the School Critical Response Information Center application running on a Toshiba 450-MHz Pentium III Satellite 2100 CDT notebook with 65K of RAM.

The application includes floor plans showing all entrances and exits, photos of each school's interior and grounds and aerial images of every school's exterior and neighborhood.

In addition, the application details police perimeters including helicopter landing sites, emergency treatment zones, debriefing areas and meeting points for family members and the media.

The application also includes emergency procedures, hazardous material information and contact information for local hospitals and fire departments, as well as after-hours contact information for school principals and administrators.

Evacuation routes

Tony Petruzzi, Sheriff's Office Web developer, said the department created the application using Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 for the browser, FrontPage 2000 for the interface and Street and Trips 2000 for the maps. The department creates the files in Adobe Portable Document Format.

Petruzzi used Volo View from Autodesk Inc. of San Rafael, Calif., to mark details such as standard evacuation routes on computer-aided design floor plans.

Broward County Sheriff's Office dispatchers have the app installed on their systems at headquarters, so in the event of an emergency patrol officers could coordinate their actions and movements with central authorities by radio.

'We are taking advantage of technology and putting it to a very practical use for all of our deputies to help save lives,' Sheriff Ken Jenne said.

'No matter what emergency school situation our deputies are called in to help with, they can automatically look on their laptops to determine the staging area,' Jenne said. 'We can prevent mass confusion by knowing exactly where to go, and we can control a situation before it becomes dangerous to students or turns into a media circus.'

Marty Zaworski, Sheriff's Office chief information officer, said developing the application was a cooperative effort between the Sheriff's Office staff and local school system officials.

'We hope to work with local churches and synagogues to be able to do the same project with them,' Zaworski said.

'Hopefully, we will always be blessed not to have a violent situation happen in our schools like what happened in Colorado and many other areas,' Jenne said. 'But we want to do everything possible to safeguard our kids and be prepared.'

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