Posted Thursday, October 10th, 2019
In advance of National School Safety Week, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office and the Morris County Police Chiefs Association today (Oct. 10) unveiled a mobile app called RSVP-3 Morris County, NJ, through which students can anonymously report threats to school safety and behavior that could disrupt classroom security.
The free RSVP-3 app – which stands for Responsible School Violence Prevention, Preparation, Protection – is one component of a multi-faceted RSVP-3 program.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon immediately began developing the program with the Morris County Chiefs of Police Association in response to the February 14, 2018, school shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and wounded 17 others.
Tips to the app are monitored in real time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by law enforcement professionals working cooperatively with school officials.
The app was developed by Anderson Software’s P3 Campus, a tip reporting solution designed for the educational community. The Morris County Sheriff’s Office received $16,500 in start-up funding for the RSVP-3 application from the Morris County Sheriff’s CrimeStoppers program. Unlike CrimeStoppers, there are no rewards attached to making tips through RSVP-3.
“The app is a practical tool to help prevent school violence and allow for the sharing of critical information between police, school leaders and mental health providers,” said Sheriff Gannon, who was joined at the event by Butler Police Chief Ciro Chimento, president of the Morris County Police Chief’s Association, First Assistant Morris County Prosecutor Thomas Zelante, and Freeholders Heather Darling, Kathy DeFillippo, and Stephen Shaw.
So far, two public school districts in Morris County have committed to forming teams that will help law enforcement agencies investigate the tips. The app is available for anyone – students, parents, teachers and staff – to report a tip about school safety or a troubling school environment. All 36 municipal police departments in Morris County have signed on to the program.
Deputy Freeholder Director Darling expressed strong support for the entire RSVP-3 program.
“We want to be ahead of any violence and we want to reach the person who is making threats, or behaving erratically, or whose grades are plummeting, and get them the help they may need,” said Darling.
The Morris County Board of Freeholders and the federal Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) have each contributed funds used to pay for behavioral threat assessment curriculum and the costs of training school leaders and mental health professionals who work with schools.
Former Denville Police Chief Christopher Wagner, now the Director of Public Affairs for the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, and Steve Forte, Denville’s Superintendent of Schools, said they are longtime proponents of the overall RSVP-3 program.
“I don’t want to send a kid to school with a cell phone because they need to get hold of their mother because there’s been a violent encounter at school,” Chief Wagner said. “I don’t ever want a kid to have to send a note to their parents that ‘I’m scared because there’s a bad person in our school.”
Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, also present at the event, has introduced legislation to fund a pilot RSVP-3 program specifically in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic and Union counties, as well as Newark and Jersey City.
The mobile app can be downloaded as follows: