A cellphone panic button used Friday by a Grand Junction boy to escape from an alleged child molester is a key feature in a growing effort by the country’s school districts to more quickly alert police about mass shooting events.
The Red Panic Button — which users can get from the Goggle Play store and the AppStore — can be pushed and allows immediate contact with various emergency services, providing instant details of someone’s location. The application can send your current position and address — in the form of a Goggle Maps link — to all the numbers listed in a user’s “panic” contact list, according to redbutton.com.
The red button can also send e-mail and Twitter panic messages.
A similar cellphone alert system is now being used by 90 percent of public school districts in Long Island, N.Y.’s Suffolk County. At the push of a button, teachers and administrators call 911 and simultaneously alert other authorities about an active-shooter situation or emergency events, according to Newsday. The panic button also provides up-to-date information that first responders may need, such as the layout of a school building.
Unlike a traditional emergency call, the RAVE smartphone alert used in Long Island does not go through a call log where other emergency calls are fielded. Instead, it is given its own call log and police are dispatched immediately.
A panic button app also has been installed in teacher cellphones in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and California. It’s not clear if cellphone panic buttons are being used in Colorado schools.
Grand Junction police said Thursday night they were alerted when a panic alarm was used on a cellphone in the 600 block of 26 Road. When they arrived, they found the boy in the back seat of a car and a man in the front trying to start the vehicle.
The victim told police that he met a person he thought was a 13- or 14-year-old boy on a social media application called “Kik.” After communicating for several days, the person messaged him and said he was in town and wanting to meet him.
They agreed on a location to meet, and when the victim walked to the location, 47-year-old Aaron Scott Smith of Utah allegedly drove up to him, called the boy by name and told him to get in the car, police said. The boy got into the car and immediately activated an emergency alarm on his cellphone.
About 13 minutes later, police — guided by the cellphone signal — arrived at the scene.
Smith has been arrested for investigation of kidnapping, internet luring of a child, child enticement, sexual assault on a child, unlawful sexual contact with consent, obstructing a police officer and having vehicle license plates that are not clearly visible, police said. Smith molested a 13-year-old paper carrier he supervised and was sentenced to up to five years in prison, according to the the Deseret News in Salt Lake City.