Governor Abbott Directs DPS, TEA, THECB To Expand And Accelerate Implementation Of iWatch Texas Program To Report Suspicious Activity
Governor Greg Abbott today sent a letter directing Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw, Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Mike Morath, and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) Commissioner Harrison Keller to expand and accelerate their efforts to promote the ability to report suspicious activity known to students, staff, and families through the iWatchTexas reporting system. iWatchTexas is a partnership between communities and law enforcement that makes it easier for the public to report suspicious activity in the state, including criminal, terroristic, or school safety-related threats.
"One recommendation provided by the Secret Service to stem the tide of school violence is for individuals who witness alarming behavior to report it to the appropriate authorities so that interventions may occur before a mass attack is carried out," reads the letter. "The State of Texas began to implement this recommendation after the tragic attack in El Paso on September 5, 2019, when I issued Executive Order GA-07, relating to the prevention of mass attacks. We must accelerate these efforts to build a network of schools that are well-versed in suspicious activity reporting. That requires redoubling our efforts on the important work outlined in GA-07 and providing a robust rollout of the iWatch program that reaches communities and school districts across the state. To achieve that goal, I am directing DPS, TEA, and THECB to enhance and expedite your efforts to make widely known and easily accessible the ability to report suspicious activity known to students, staff, and families into iWatch. Efforts should include working with the state’s eight fusion centers and with all school districts to teach students, staff, and families about Texas’s suspicious activity reporting program, known as iWatchTexas. Reporting concerning behavior is a key component of intervention strategies to keep schools safe, and it is only through our joint efforts that we will succeed."
Texans can report suspicious activity at iwatchtx.org, through the iWatchTexas mobile app, or by calling 844-643-2251. Reporting through any of these channels can be anonymous.
Governor Abbott has taken significant action to provide all available resources to support the Uvalde community following the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School. Those actions include:
- Initiating the State of Texas' comprehensive plan to assist and support members of the community, including co-locating state agency representatives to the Family Assistance Center for on-hand assistance in finding benefits.
- Issuing a disaster declaration at the request of local leaders to accelerate all available state and local resources to assist the Uvalde community.
- Requesting Texas legislative leaders convene special legislative committees to begin examining and developing legislative recommendations on school safety, mental health, social media, police training, firearm safety, and more.
- Directing the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) to begin immediately conducting comprehensive school safety reviews to ensure all Texas public schools are following the appropriate procedures to maximize school safety.
- Directing the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to provide strategies to make Texas public schools safer through heightened safety standards.
- Instructing the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) programs to provide training to all school districts across the state, prioritizing school-based law enforcement.
- Investing an initial $5 million into establishing a long-term Family Resiliency Center (FRC) in Uvalde County to serve as a hub for community services, including access to the critical mental health resources.
- Working with the OneStar Foundation to create a one-stop webpage for donations to support the victims' families, teachers, and the Uvalde community.