Law enforcement agencies, schools to fight crime with app

SaferWatch app will provide agencies, residents with real-time updates

By Don Coble don@claytodayonline.com
Posted 2/2/22

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook offered a compelling scenario to promote the new SaferWatch app during a joint press conference on Monday, Jan. 31.

She talked of a mother …

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Law enforcement agencies, schools to fight crime with app

SaferWatch app will provide agencies, residents with real-time updates

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook offered a compelling scenario to promote the new SaferWatch app during a joint press conference on Monday, Jan. 31.

She talked of a mother with two children playing at Spring Park in Green Cove Springs when the mother suddenly realized one of her children had wandered off.

“Mom can go on the SaferWatch app, immediately notify our real-time crime center and include a photograph of their child in the message to the real-time crime center,” the sheriff said. “She could say, ‘My 4-year-old daughter is missing. Here’s a picture of her from this morning on the swing.’

“That picture comes into our real-time crime personnel; they immediately start building out a call to start dispatching Green Cove Springs and Clay County Sheriff’s personnel to the area. In that call the deputies are receiving, that call includes the photograph of the child so while they’re driving there, they can see who they’re looking for.

“In addition, our real-time crime personnel can send out a message to anyone in the general area of the park and say ‘We have a missing child. If you see this child, please stop the child and call 911 or stop the child and notify an officer. If you’re driving past the park and you passed the park two minutes ago and you’re thinking, ‘Man, I saw that child at the coffee shop,’ you can send us a message and say, ‘I just saw that child and she was standing out there two minutes ago.’ That information comes in and it’s all collected within that call.”

SaferWatch operates a lot like the silent panic systems which are required – Alyssa’s Law – in all Florida schools. But instead of connecting a school with law enforcement about a pending or ongoing threat, it will put several law enforcement agencies and the public in the same loop.

“County schools have switched over its mobile panic alert system to SaferWatch because “it was a logical choice,” school police chief Kenneth Wagner said. “We work closely with county law enforcement to integrate the system so our officers are made aware of any situation that arises at any one of our schools, whether it be a tip or whether it be a threat.”

The free app will allow a resident to report a crime to a real-time crime center. It also will allow the resident to send photographs and live video, so it can be dispensed the proper agency – and residents.

“In fact, if you have a smartphone in your hand or access to a computer, you can now be part of the SaferWatch team,” Cook said.

The system will be utilized by the sheriff’s office, Clay County School District Police Department and the Green Cove Springs Police Department.

“People use their phones every day to send information and the SaferWatch app will just be another tool for our citizens to communicate and share information with local law enforcement,” Green Cove Springs Chief John Guzman said. “By no means does this app replace the need to call 911 or calling your local law enforcement agency, but it definitely will enhance the services we already provide.”

The system went live on Jan. 31. Cook showed how the program works with a test message. Within seconds, a dispatcher in the crime unit was reading her text and watching a video she was taking of the deputy answering the call.

“We understand technology is evolving each day and we are working each day to evolve with it – all with the goal of keeping our community safe,” Cook said. “SaferWatch is a web- and mobile-based security and reporting system that was built to provide a higher level of safety and security to our community, including our schools, our businesses, our public buildings and our neighborhoods.

“In fact, if you have a smartphone in your hand or access to a computer, you can now be part of the SaferWatch team.”

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