New Olsen Bill Wants Panic Alarms at Schools

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State Assemblymember Kristen Olsen (R-Modesto) announced a new bill Friday which would install panic buttons in every regularly used classroom in California.

“There is no question that we all have a heightened sense of school safety inadequacies right now,” said Olsen, “and it’s important that we move to implement measures that will address the ability of schools and administrators to respond quickly in the event of an emergency. Installing panic alarms will alert others on campus and shorten the response time for emergency personnel, especially on large campuses.”

The bill, Assembly Bill 1076, would require panic alarms be placed in all widely used campus spaces and classrooms. At the press of a button, law enforcement would be dispatched, alarms would sound, and others on campus would be notified of the emergency.

The bill has yet to be entered into the state's bill tracking system, making the AB1076's text unavailable for the moment. The costs of the measure have yet to be identified.

According to Olsen's staff, the bill would take effect by modifying Educational Code Sec. 32280 to require panic alarms as part of integrated school safety plans, already required under state law.

“We must take action to give schools the proper resources to act when faced with life-threatening situations,” said Olsen. “AB 1076 will help create a safer environment for students, teachers and administrators on school campuses.”

Olsen is also the principal co-author of Senate Bill 49, which would require schools to have and comply with an updated safety plan.

The measure is just one of many school safety reforms occurring at national, state, and local levels following the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Earlier this month, the Stanislaus County Office of Education conducted a mock shooting training scenario simulating a school massacre. The exercise saw student actors barricaded in classrooms, covered in blood red paint, and crying for help. The event was filmed, and will be used by police and school administrators statewide to help prepare for such tragedies.

The Turlock Unified School District is also reviewing its safety measures, following parent complaints. TUSD is meeting with each campus, parents, and Turlock Police to discuss needed improvements.

“This will be the beginning to see if there are other ways to keep our students safe, and what other areas need to be looked at,” TUSD Superintendent Sonny Da Marto said in January.

Turlock resident and law enforcement officer Vine Hooper videotaped himself walking around his daughter's elementary school, pointing out deficiencies in security, leading to the review. Already, Hooper noted that some of his concerns have been addressed.

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