According to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), there were no school shooting incidents in the state during the 2020-21 school year. As students return to school for their second semester, DPS supplies school communities with the resources necessary to prevent potential violence.
The DPS resources include the iWatchTexas program, the Texas School Safety Center and, lastly, the Active Shooter Alert, if an attack is underway.
The iWatchTexas program is a partnership between communities and law enforcement and uses citizen-sourced tips on suspicious activity to thwart potential criminal acts. DPS saw three times as many reports made through iWatchTexas in 2021 compared to 2020, as schools began going back to in-person learning.
iWatchTexas adds important threat information to the Texas School Safety Network. DPS is then able to use all of the available information to provide greater situational awareness and increase sharing between schools and law enforcement agencies, while still protecting the privacy of the student.
In 2021, there were numerous instances in which reports to iWatchTexas resulted in collaboration between local, state and federal law enforcement, school districts, mental health professionals and parents or legal guardians to intervene with at-risk students and prevent possible incidents at schools.
In addition to iWatchTexas, the Texas School Safety Center is another useful tool for school security. A part of Texas State University, the Texas School Safety Center shares resources on school safety for parents and members of the school community.
Another implemented DPS resource is the Active Shooter Alert System. The alert system is designed to notify people in close proximity to an active shooter situation through cell phones, local broadcast media and Texas Department of Transportation Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) to encourage people to avoid the area or shelter in place.