State Representative Proposes Emergency Response Devices for Pennsylvania Schools

State Representative Karen Boback (R-Dallas) on Friday proposed legislation to equip Pennsylvania K-12 public schools with emergency response devices. 

The representative modeled her bill on “Alyssa’s Law,” named after Alyssa Alhadeff, a 14-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student who was killed in the mass shooting that occurred on February 14, 2018. Alyssa’s Law, which Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Nebraska have already enacted, requires all elementary and secondary schools to install panic alarms which are connected to area law enforcement agencies. 

Boback’s proposal also would facilitate outfitting schools with gunshot detectors. Those machines, after sensing that a gun has been fired, would transmit an alert to an emergency call center so that first responders could deploy to the facility. 

“This legislation would give schools the option to implement two new methods to enhance school safety and security for students and staff throughout the Commonwealth,” Boback wrote in a memorandum describing her bill. “Too often, after a school shooting, people pose the question ‘why wasn’t this prevented?’ or ‘what more can we do?’ This bill is the first step toward preventing these horrific tragedies from ever occurring.”

Her memo observed that there have been at least 95 occurrences of firearms being shot at on school properties during this year alone. Those shootings have caused 76 injuries and 40 deaths. 

“The safety and protection of all public school students and staff across the Commonwealth is a paramount issue that must be addressed,” she wrote.

Panic buttons have come into increased use in the Keystone State in recent years. In 2007, Montgomery County began implementing a program to equip all public, private, parochial, and nursery schools with panic buttons. In 2013, months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut the prior December, Delaware County adopted a measure to install panic buttons in its schools. 

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Karen Boback” by Karen Boback. Background Photo “Classroom” by Wokandapix.


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