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July 19, 2024 6:52 am

Local News

Alyssa’s Law, named for Parkland shooting victim, would push for panic alarms in school buildings


Peter Hall, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
March 25, 2024

A Pennsylvania lawmaker wants public and charter schools to install silent panic alarms to improve public safety response times with a bill inspired by a Florida law named in memory of a Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victim.

Alyssa’s Law is named for Alyssa Alhadeff who was 14 when she died in the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting in the Miami suburb of Parkland. The law has been enacted in five states where schools are required to have silent alarms that connect directly to local law enforcement.

State Rep. Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz (D-Berks) said having silent alarms in classrooms would allow police  to respond faster if the unthinkable happens in a Pennsylvania school. 

“We need to do more to help ensure the safety of our students and school employees and this legislation will be a necessary step towards ensuring our schools have the resources they need to maximize the safety of all people in the face of increasing threats to our schools,” Cepeda-Freytiz said.

Alyssa Alhadeff’s mother Lori Alhadeff spoke at a news conference Monday in the state Capitol rotunda about her loss and grief. Alhadeff is also the chairperson of the school board in Broward County, where the shooting took place. 

“I texted Alyssa and I told Alyssa to run and hide, that help was on the way and unfortunately that help did not get there fast enough,” Lori Alhadeff said.

Panic alarms can also be used in medical emergencies and other situations where a fast response is vital, she said.

“We want to empower teachers to push a button that is directly linked to law enforcement so they can get there as quickly as possible. We know that time equals lives,” Lori Alhadeff said.

In addition to Florida, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, and Texas have passed versions of Alyssa’s Law. In Florida, the cost of equipping each school with a panic alarm system is $2,000 to $8,000 a year and the Florida Legislature has appropriated $8 million to cover the cost, Lori Alhadoff said.

Cepeda-Freytiz said her legislation, House Bill 1974, would require school districts to consider installing panic alarms but does not provide funding, however school districts may be eligible for grants through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

The bill is awaiting consideration in the House Education Committee.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.