New York schools will be required to consider installing silent panic alarms to alert police during an emergency under a new law signed Thursday by Gov. Hochul.
The measure, known as Alyssa’s Law, is named in honor of Alyssa Alhadeff. The 14-year-old was one of 17 people killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018.
“It’s not a mandate, but I stand here today to ask all school districts to adopt this,” Hochul said during a signing ceremony in Manhattan. “Please, please consider this technology to protect your students and your staff and your administrators. It will save lives.”
Schools could use the alarm systems to get in touch with police quickly or alert teachers, staff and parents during an emergency such as a shooting. There are also apps available that can send email alerts and push notifications to warn of dangerous situations and help get people to safety, Hochul said.
Florida passed a version of Alyssa’s Law in 2020 and New Jersey, where Alyssa’s family lived before moving to the Sunshine State, passed a similar measure in 2019.
Alyssa’s father, Ilan Alhadeff, noted that police response times can make all the difference when it comes to mass shootings or other emergencies as was seen recently in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers before police intervened.
“Time equals life,” Alhadeff said. “Every minute counts during a life-threatening situation and seconds can be the difference between life and death.”
The new law comes weeks after Hochul and lawmakers worked together on a package of gun control laws that included a new permitting process for buying semi-automatic rifles and raising the age for purchasing such weapons from 18 to 21.
Hochul, speaking moments after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 100-year-old New York law restricting concealed carry permits, also outlined how the state will work with schools on a recent expansion of “red flag” laws.
This summer, the state will provide a series of in-person and virtual training for school boards, superintendents, teachers, school-related professionals, principals, and parent-teacher associations.
The training will help instruct educators and mental health professionals about how and when to complete the necessary paperwork to file an Extreme Risk Protection Order, which would allow police to remove firearms from someone considered to be a threat to themselves or others.
“I want you to know our administration is being aggressive, working on a robust, comprehensive public awareness campaign to educate key groups, particularly those in schools, that there is a now overhauled red flag law,” Hochul said.