DPS Reminds Texans to Download Free iWatchTexas App

August 15, 2018
Implements Initiatives Related to School Safety

AUSTIN – As the new school year begins, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is reminding all Texans – including school staff, parents, students and community members – to download the new iWatchTexas mobile app to help law enforcement protect Texans. DPS is also taking various measures to support local efforts to help enhance the presence of law enforcement in and around schools.

“As the excitement of a new school year builds in Texas, we are asking everyone to also be mindful of some simple but important measures to stay safe,” said Governor Greg Abbott. “Whether at school or in your community, Texans should always be aware of their surroundings. Working together to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, our law enforcement officers and the people of Texas can help keep our state and schools safe.”

At the direction of Governor Abbott, DPS launched the new iWatchTexas mobile app in June to make it easier for the public to report suspicious activity in Texas, including criminal, terroristic or school safety-related threats. The app is free and available for iPhone users on the Apple App Store (iWatchTexas) and for Android users on Google Play (iWatchTexas). Texans can also report suspicious activity online at www.iwatchtx.org or by calling 1-844-643-2251. All reports are confidential. (Providing contact information, which is optional, will allow for additional or clarifying questions.)

“Our top priority at DPS is protecting the people of Texas,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “At the governor’s direction, we are working closely with local law enforcement to support their efforts to bolster safety at Texas schools. We’re also asking members of the public to do their part by downloading the free iWatchTexas app today and reporting suspicious activity they observe. By doing so, Texans can play an important role in preventing tragedies and potentially saving lives.”

Preparations for crime, terrorist attacks and threats to school safety may often be seen but not reported. When in doubt, speak up. Here are some examples of behaviors and activities to report:

  • Comments made – written or verbal – regarding killing or harming someone
  • Strangers asking questions about building security features and procedures
  • Briefcase, suitcase, backpack or package is left behind
  • Cars or trucks are left in no-parking zones at important buildings
  • Chemical smells or fumes that are unusual for the location
  • People requesting sensitive information, such as blueprints, security plans or VIP travel schedules, without a need to know
  • Purchasing supplies that could be used to make bombs or weapons
  • Purchasing uniforms without having the proper credentials
  • Taking photographs or videos of security features, such as security cameras or checkpoints

The iWatch Texas program is not designed to report emergencies. If a situation requires an emergency response, call 911.

“Students on every campus deserve a safe and secure environment for learning,” said Commissioner of Education Mike Morath. “I commend the efforts of the Texas Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement agencies in working with our school districts statewide to assure students remain safe throughout the school day.”

Following additional direction from Governor Abbott, DPS has also implemented initiatives that focus on working closely with local law enforcement and school officials to increase police presence in and around schools.

These initiatives include but are not limited to identifying opportunities for DPS officers to:

  • Attend large school events, such as school performances, sporting events, etc., both on and off duty
  • Schedule Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) training with school districts
  • Work with schools to participate in educational and mentorship programs to promote safety messages and continue to foster positive relationships between law enforcement and Texas students, teachers and administrators
  • Partner with schools to identify available work space on campuses where DPS officers can complete administrative duties (i.e., writing reports or holding meetings)
  • Conduct periodic walk-throughs in and around school campuses
  • Conduct routine patrols on school grounds and surrounding areas
  • Take lunch breaks in schools or while parked on school campuses
  • Conduct fitness testing and training on school campuses where permitted
  • Conduct canine training in and around schools

### (HQ 2018-083)