BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – The Broward Sheriff's Office is stepping up efforts to protect houses of worship.
Saferwatch, an app covering more than 440 schools in Broward County alone, was a by-product of lessons learned from the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
“We’ve had information come in from the community where we have been able to prevent other school shootings, we’ve been able to prevent suicide attempts,” Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said.
The app gave students, parents, teachers and really anyone in the community the ability to submit photos, videos, audio files or text messages to authorities anonymously.
“See something, send something” was the idea behind the app, connecting users directly with the proper authorities.
The app was so successful, it’s now expanding to cover 850 houses of worship, as well.
“At the end of the day, people are more likely to send text messages today, be on social media sometimes to make certain phone calls,” Geno Roefaro, of Saferwatch, said.
In light of recent threats and shootings across the country, religious leaders of all faiths say this makes sense.
“Anything that we do to save and protect any faith is an amazing thing,” BSO volunteer chaplain Yoeli Goldstein said.
“With all the shootings that have happened at different synagogues and Islamic institutions and churches, I think that’s why the app is very important,” Shaikh Shafayat, of the Darul Uloom Islamic Institute, said.
The app helps organize different communities and you can even receive alerts about your group.
Officials hope the system will only continue making it easier for folks to step up and report suspicious activity.
“The more people we get enrolled, get them on this platform, sending this information in, I think the better success rate we’ll have in preventing any type of crime taking place,” Tony said.
The Saferwatch app is free to download and you don’t have to belong to a house of worship or a school to use it.