NewsPinellas County


New app will help students, parents and teachers report suspicious activity

Statewide app will ensure tips aren't missed
Posted at 8:29 PM, May 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-30 20:29:02-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — "Seeing something saying something" is about to get a lot easier for students and teachers across Florida. Right now, state leaders are developing a new way for all of us to report suspicious activity. 

If your child notices something suspicious at school or on social media, who do they tell? The principal? Law enforcement? Soon, we'll all have one app across Florida we can use to report any red flags.

Zachariah Houd, a St. Pete father of four says that's important.

"We encourage our kids to speak up if they see something suspicious, but it’s really hard for a lot of people to know who to call about it. Do we call 911, the school, a tip line,?” he explained.

The smartphone app is being developed right now with help from students who survived the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland. 

While there are several apps that help kids anonymously report red flags, the Fortify Florida app, will be directly associated with the state of Florida. Authorities say that will mean fewer chances that a tip will be overlooked. 

“We always say 'so and so was doing something odd' and people brush it aside, now with this platform, it will allow people to take this more seriously," explained child psychologist Kelsey Lisle.

The app comes at the same time the Broward School District is facing criticism over how much school officials knew about the accused shooter Nikolas Cruz and whether the district did enough to intercede before the Parkland shooting. 

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement plans to launch the new app before kids go back to school this Fall. 

Palm Harbor High School junior Riley Walker hopes it will encourage more kids to speak up.

“If my school were to get shot up, and I had seen something and hadn’t said something, I would have that guilt on me forever. I think it’s important we start taking steps towards the right direction of speaking up when things are happening,” he added.

Wednesday, police officers, deputies and school administrators met all day at Northeast High School to brainstorm new ways to protect students. The district is looking at physical changes to school buildings to make them safer.