LAWTON, OK (TNN) – Lawton Public Schools are now using an app they hope can increase safety on their campuses.
The STOPit app allows students and parents to anonymously report several types of threats to the Lawton Public Schools Police Department. Reports are similar to text messages, and can also include pictures and video.
“They just go to the app store, download the STOPit app, and then there’s an access code that is assigned to them,” said Pam Brisolara, Lawton PTA Council president. “So, if they have something that they want to report or something that they feel like is dangerous, then they just go to that app and then they download the access, go to the access point, and then they can just text anything they want to text.”
Once a report is sent in, LPS police are able to message back to gather more information and investigate the report.
“A lot of times bullying doesn’t get reported,” said David Hornbeck, chief of police for the Lawton Public School Police Department. “That’s one thing we’re doing with the STOPit app. We’re allowing another avenue for these kids to report that type of activity if it’s happening.”
Students and parents can report more than just bullying.
“You also can report drug activity, inappropriate behavior that’s happening on school campuses, tobacco on school campuses. Any issues law enforcement related or policy violation related can be reported on the STOPit app,” said Chief Hornbeck. “Any time we receive a tip on there it will be addressed and looked into.”
Chief Hornbeck said the STOPit app also helps his department screen reports and assign them to the proper authority or school official to get resolved.
“Every tip that comes in is evaluated, and the first thing we want to do is discover is this of a criminal nature? If it is, then of course we’re going to take it and investigate it to the fullest,” said Chief Hornbeck. “If it’s not of a criminal nature, if it’s a policy violation or something along that line, it will give us an opportunity to hand that off to somebody in the district staff who’s more capable of taking care of that.”
The app was introduced to all Lawton Public Schools in February, and since then there has only been one bullying report. However, the LPS Police Department expects more reports once the word gets out about the app.
“I just feel like somehow or another there’s got to be something we can do to help the kids before it gets to that point,” said Brisolara. “So, that’s the good thing about this app is that it’s proactive and not reactive. So, we can catch it before something happens, hopefully.”