FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 directors voted Tuesday to institute a one-year emergency notification software program that would allow district staff members to immediately notify first responders of a threat in the schools.

“We are the first to implement (the COPsync911 program) in the state of Maine, Farmington police Deputy Chief Shane Cote said.

It will be in every school in Franklin County, he said.

Cote gave the board a presentation on the program, which can be installed on computers and mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.

Once a staff member hits the COPsyn911 button, it opens up a chat window between emergency dispatchers, the school and first responders, he said.

A staff member who perceives a threat can type in the threat in the chat such as “shots fired,” “there is someone with a gun in the school” or “there is someone walking toward a school with a gun,” and dispatch and the nearest five emergency responders based on GPS would be alerted to the specifics of the situation, including a building diagram of where the threat is taking place, he said.

It is expected that a medical emergency notification will be added in the very near future, he said.

The board will re-evaluate the program before it considers signing on to more years of the service.

COPsync Inc., based in Massachusetts, operates the nation’s largest law enforcement real-time, in-car, information-sharing, communication and data interoperability network, according to its website

The state of New Hampshire launched the statewide school safety initiative, with the threat alert system to enhance school emergency notification systems last year, according to the company’s website.

The first year of the program for school districts and law enforcement would be paid for through leftover federal 2013 Maine Homeland Security grant money, Cote said.

The second and third years would cost each of the six school campuses in RSU 9 $1,200 to $1,400 a year, he said. Cushing and Academy Hill schools in Wilton are being considered one school.

Police departments would pay $50 per computer to use the program.

Police departments in Franklin County are on board, Cote said, and Maine State Police are looking for money to participate.

The key to any intruder coming into the school is “how do we slow them down” and get access to first responders, RSU 9 Superintendent Tom Ward said. With the program, responders will have an idea where the intruder is located, he said.

Cote said COPsyn Inc. representatives and law enforcement officers plan to meet with the state Department of Education in the near future.

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