On Valentine’s Day, 2018, 17 teens were gunned down and killed by a madman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Many safety and security protocols were either missing or went completely awry on that tragic day, allowing the 19-year-old killer to continue his quest without being stopped.
He walked onto campus and into the building freely and shot into Alyssa’s room first, shooting her immediately. It was determined later, after the shooter left, there was a period during which Alyssa was alive and could move to a designated safe zone in the classroom, but she didn’t know where to hide, where the safe zone was. There was no guidance. The shooter returned and shot Alyssa again… and again… and again.
Not long after, born of grief from the loss of their beautiful 14-year old daughter, Lori and Ilan Alhadeff founded MakeOurSchoolsSafe.org, a nonprofit organization through which Alyssa’s Law has been written and introduced.
What is Alyssa’s Law?
Alyssa’s Law is critical legislation that addresses the issue of law enforcement notification and response times when a life-threatening school emergency occurs, because “time equals life.” The law calls for the installation of silent panic alarms that are directly linked to law enforcement, so in any emergency, law enforcement will be informed faster and be on the scene as quickly as possible, take down the threat, and triage any victims.
Alyssa’s Law and the school safety efforts of Make Our Schools Safe will ultimately reduce the chance of other parents being forced to endure the unending pain Alyssa’s parents and the sixteen other Parkland families will forever feel. Pain too many parents in America are having to deal with as their children are shot at school. A pain that could’ve been avoided at MSDHS had the right safety protocols and a panic button been in place and utilized.
With passion, persistence, and community, Alyssa’s Law can become law in every state and better school security and safety protocols will become the new normal, instead of children’s lives being taken by killers.
Make Our Schools Safe’s Mission
In a conversation between Guard911 and Lori Alhadeff, she said one of the main goals of Make Our Schools Safe is to empower teachers and school staff during an active shooter crisis and create vigilance to stop it from happening in the first place. “It is Make Our Schools Safe’s mission to take action against poor school safety and security and spread the word about the importance of first-responder response times.”
She explained, “Panic buttons and this type of technology speed up communication with law enforcement and among staff within the schools. With a silent panic button, if there is an active shooter or even a medical emergency, staff can respond more appropriately. When teachers, administrators, and law enforcement have an app that provides instant knowledge of exactly what is going on and where it is happening, everyone can work to keep kids away from the danger while at the same time, not creating a panic while the situation is handled.”
She also shared that Make Our Schools Safe has coined the acronym P.O.W.E.R to guide school staff in how to avoid active shooter emergencies, as well as what to do should an emergency happen.
P – Preparedness. Know the threats and hazards your school faces; plan and train for emergency responses to those threats and hazards; know and correct vulnerabilities, thus mitigating/preventing those threats and hazards events/incidents.
O – Observation. Remain observant with situational awareness and decision support.
W – Willingness to Act. Preparedness response training for school leaders and teachers enables the confidence and willingness to act.
E – Education. Know your school’s response protocols and drills.
R– Response. Rapidly respond and recover from threats and hazards as trained and planned for; build campus resiliency.
In addition to changing the way schools prepare for, react to, and protect against school violence, Make Our Schools Safe is also at the forefront of helping enact the legislation to make Alyssa’s Law mandatory in every state and at the federal level.
The Status of Alyssa’s Law & States Doing Their Part
In February 2019, Alyssa’s law was adopted in New Jersey. It has also been passed in the House of Representatives and is awaiting the Governor’s signature in Florida. Additionally, it has been introduced in the House of Representatives in New York and Nebraska. At Guard911®, we are left wondering why ALL states haven’t started the process to pass this important law to protect children’s lives.
“Alyssa’s death is a stark reminder of the dangers of gun violence and the need for adequate school security measures,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “In New Jersey, we will do everything in our power to prevent these tragedies from occurring within our borders.”
On a federal level, Representative Roger Williams (Republican, Texas, 25th District) and Representative Ted Deutch (Democrat, Florida, 22nd District) introduced H.R. 3665, the School Violence Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2019. The bill establishes federal grant programs for public schools to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities in their security-related infrastructure. It also includes a provision to expand Alyssa’s Law nationwide.
A Message from Senator Ronald Rice, NJ
In an excerpt from the State of New Jersey Governor’s website, Senator Ronald Rice could not have summarized the reasons behind Alyssa’s Law any better. “The trust our children have in us to protect them is a sacred bond that is worth every measure of effort, to whatever length is required. It has unfortunately wavered these past few years as students increasingly feel unsafe at school. Fortifying our schools’ emergency response capabilities is a small endeavor compared to the value of our children,” said Senator Rice.
“New Jersey will be propelled into the forefront of states which are harnessing the power of technology to protect our schools from the type of heart-wrenching tragedies we’ve seen far too many times in the news. But more than that, it will help fulfill our responsibility to the children that we hold so dear.”
Guard911 Supports Alyssa’s Law & You Can Too
It takes all of us, as one community, to ensure that every child who has died in school violence did not die in vain. With your help, Make Our Schools Safe can get Alyssa’s Law mandated so children can thrive in their classrooms, not fear for their lives.
The Guard911® family fully supports Make Our Schools Safe and Alyssa’s Law. We have the same end-goal at the heart of our mission – to save children and staff. “It is Alyssa and the 16 other victims’ spirits that give us the strength to further our mission and help protect schools everywhere,” Lori said. We encourage you to connect with Make Our Schools Safe today and help get this law adopted nationwide.