CDs will play well in crises

Law enforcement officials in a Florida county have one more tool to combat

school violence, crimes and other emergencies — a compact disc.

The Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) recently equipped its 1,300 road patrol

deputies, supervisors, dispatchers, SWAT teams and school resource officers

with a CD containing detailed floor plans, aerial photos and interior pictures

of 61 public and private elementary, middle and high schools in the agency's

jurisdiction. Broward County Fire-Rescue squads also have copies.

According to spokeswoman Cheryl Stopnick, the CD was developed so that deputies

unfamiliar with a particular school would know where to go, how to gain

access and whom to contact in case of an emergency. Deputies have laptops

in their patrol cars.

"It's marrying innovation with technology with traditional law enforcement,"

Stopnick said. "This innovation gives people a peace of mind that we're

prepared to handle any emergency that pops up."

In a worst-case scenario, such as a hostage crisis, Stopnick said the CD

could cut planning and response time by hours. She said thay many times

responding officers have arrived on a scene and asked where they should

be positioned. With the CD, supervisors and dispatchers can pre-designate

perimeter points and staging areas. "Everyone is on the same page with the

same information," she said.

But Stopnick said the CD wasn't developed just for the worst-case scenario

but also for other situations, such as a school burglary or a report of

a missing student. The disc also contains phone numbers and names of school

principals, superintendents, supervisors, the county's other fire and police

departments, and hospitals.

In Broward County schools last year, there were no incidents of violent

crime, such as homicides, shootings, stabbings or riots, according to Stopnick.

Most calls, she explained, were for disturbances on campus followed by trespassing,

fighting, theft and vandalism.

The disc was created in-house for about $2,500 plus staff hours, Stopnick

said. She said it would be updated at least once a year to include the names

and phone numbers of new school officials. She said that some of the other

25 or so municipal police departments in the county, which has 216 public

schools, have expressed interest in the CD.

Broward County includes the city of Fort Lauderdale and has a population

of 1.5 million people.

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