Keeping SWFL schools safe with reporting tools

Published: October 25, 2021 7:18 AM EDT

Two East Lee County High School students will be in court Monday morning after allegedly bringing a gun to school earlier in October, both charged with possession of a weapon on school property. It is the latest of several instances of guns showing up in Lee County schools, which is why most of them now have digital platforms for reporting suspicious activity.

Just like schools have similar platforms for seeing where a school bus is or for watching a lecture online, many have ways for students to report possible dangers on their mobile devices and remain anonymous while doing so. For Lee County schools, it’s a mobile platform called Fortify Florida.

This reporting tool is provided to students so they can instantly relay information to school administrators and law enforcement agencies. David Newlan, executive director of safety and security management for Lee County schools, says it is by far the best mechanism they have to defend against crime in schools.

“We provide things out there, messaging to our parents, to our students, provide the opportunity for Fortify to report suspicious activity,” Newlan said. “It can be anonymous, it is on their Chromebook, it is made available on your phone, and we are looking at other programs coming up, like the Sandy Hook STOP [School Violence Act] as well.”

The Sandy Hook program Newlan refers to is a three-tiered educational campaign that the School District of Lee County is applying for, so it’s premature to get too excited about it.

“As much as we can provide opportunity, whether it be a student or parent, for anybody to be able to report any type of suspicious activity, anything that could or may pose a threat, that is what we are trying to do,” Newlan said.