The Augusta Chronicle reported that Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) told a crowd at the Richmond County Board of Education that a proposal to install panic buttons in schools between 2014 and 2018 has earned support from state and national law enforcement and education agencies.
“What we need above all else is to improve response time so that the good guys can respond as quickly as possible,” Barrow said, “Time is precious, and the difference between life and death is that minutes costs lives.”
The idea was a suggestion by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Barrow said. During a tour of the 12th District — which includes 19 counties Barrow represents — sheriff’s officials recommended installing buttons that could override 911 communications and send alerts directly to law enforcement dispatchers and police officers’ cell phones.
The congressman wants to reauthorize a $30 million matching grant program for school security that was created under the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to install the panic buttons. Funding in the program lapsed in 2009.
Richmond County Superintendent Frank Roberson applauded the idea. “There are three institutions in our society the safety of which cannot be compromised: the home, the school and the church,” he said. “We cannot assume that either will always be safe. We have to put measures in place to ensure their safety.”
Barrow introduced legislation to reauthorize the grant program Friday. It has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, according to the Library of Congress.