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Editorial: Rave Panic Button app should keep schools safer

On one hand, it’s a depressing sign of the times. But it’s also a smart use of technology that addresses a real problem that has struck all too close to home. It’s the new Rave Panic Button app that will be available for the smart phones of school staff, allowing them to alert authorities instantly if they detect an active shooter, fire or medical emergency.

Two San Juan County high schools – Aztec and Bloomfield – will be the first in the state to deploy the new system designed to allow rapid reporting of incidents that require immediate 911 assistance. N.M. Attorney General Hector Balderas joined local government and education officials along with first responders – those who run TOWARD danger – to announce the system will be installed at the schools.

It was Dec. 7, 2017, at Aztec High School in San Juan County when a troubled 21-year-old who had been under FBI scrutiny walked in, posing as a student at the school he once attended. Armed with a Glock 9mm handgun, he fired several magazines at students who had barricaded themselves in. He committed suicide, but not before fatally wounding Casey Jordan Marques, a senior, and Francisco “Paco” Fernandez, a junior.

Aztec Schools Superintendent Kirk Carpenter, San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari and Aztec Police Chief Mike Heal say the app will save crucial minutes, even seconds, allowing immediate response to incidents. The San Juan County Communications Authority is paying for and implementing the new system, which is offered to schools for free.

The Rave Panic Button won’t stop the problem of school shootings. But it’s a smart new initiative that has real potential to save lives. Kudos to San Juan County law enforcement, the county communications staff, Balderas, Superintendent Carpenter and students. Instead of being content with platitudes and the status quo, they have worked together to make a corner of our world safer. That’s an example others should consider following.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.