DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Department of Public Safety’s Governor’s School Safety Bureau in partnership with the Department of Education, has launched a free and anonymous school safety threat reporting platform. The new platform is available to all public school districts and accredited non-public schools to help prevent violence, unlawful possession of weapons, self-harm and other forms of victimization and threatening behaviors in schools across the state.
The rollout of the Safe+Sound Iowa app was announced and demonstrated in a joint press conference on Tuesday, March 21, with Governor Kim Reynolds joining the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Dike-New Hartford Community School District in providing an update on the progress made to enhance safety for students in school buildings across Iowa.
These enhancements include emergency school radios, vulnerability assessments, critical incident mapping, active shooter response and first aid training, and the new Safe+Sound Iowa threat reporting platform. All of these efforts are part of a $100 million investment in school safety improvement initiatives that the Governor announced last June to help protect Iowa’s 500,000 students in nearly 1,500 schools.
“There’s nothing more important to parents than knowing their children are safe at school from the time they arrive each day to when they return home. As Governor of Iowa, and as a grandmother to school-age children, it’s equally important to me,” said Governor Reynolds. “And now we need everyone’s help to make sure students and families are aware of the new Safe+Sound Iowa reporting app. It’s key to helping prevent violence and saving lives.”
The funding builds upon the foundation of the Governor’s School Safety Bureau to support all schools in collaboration with law enforcement partners to provide prevention, training and response strategies. Added Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Stephan K. Bayens, “We have taken seriously our collective charge to strengthen and fortify school buildings, to dedicate experts and resources to training and to build tools that give students, faculty, staff and parents a free, easy, and anonymous resource to report threats.”
The Governor’s School Safety Bureau is making Safe+Sound Iowa available to students, school staff, parents and concerned community members to help identify students in crisis before they hurt themselves or others. Reports of safety concerns can be made securely and anonymously in one of three ways:
1. Downloading and using the free Safe+Sound Iowa app
2. Going to SafeandSoundIowa.gov, or
3. Calling the Safe+Sound Iowa hotline at 800-224-6018
Trained dispatchers monitor reports made through Safe+Sound Iowa 24/7 and immediately engage in two-way communication with those raising concerns to ensure the information is vetted. Dispatchers then share information with the appropriate local school safety contact, law enforcement or other community partners so outreach and support can be provided to the student in crisis.
For schools participating in the Safe+Sound Iowa program, a variety of helpful marketing resources are available to help train faculty, staff and students in using the reporting tool.
“In 80% of school shootings, at least one other person had advance knowledge of what was going to occur. That person with advance knowledge is most likely going to be another student or a teacher. That is why having a tool like Safe and Sound Iowa available in every school is so critical, because it gives every student and teacher a voice for their safety,” said Special Agent in Charge and Governor’s School Safety Bureau Chief Don Schnitker.
Schnitker reiterated that Safe+Sound Iowa is a valuable resource in supporting schools, local law enforcement and other community partners in working together to prevent and protect against acts of violence. Schools may opt-in and introduce the platform at any time.
“This launch is an important milestone for our schools and our state, but we want Iowans to know that our work is really just beginning. We want every school to be a Safe and Sound Iowa school, and we will continue the work to encourage more school participation in training and use of the app because our kids deserve to learn in an environment that values their safety.”