Critical incident maps help responding officers communicate more effectively
State Rep. Mike Mueller of Linden is spearheading a plan that will help police officers respond more effectively to critical incidents like active shooter situations in schools.
Mueller – a retired sheriff’s deputy, tactical operator, and veteran – said a tool utilized by the military called critical incident mapping would greatly improve the information available to first responders when they arrive at a school during an emergency. Critical incident mapping uses satellite imaging to create a real-life depiction of a building and the area surrounding it, including labels of importance. A grid is then placed over the map to help police, fire and EMS responders articulate location.
“Responding to a critical incident like an active shooter is very hectic. It’s a high stress situation and communications can break down quickly – especially if you’re not familiar with the area,” Mueller said. “I could be on my radio telling everyone that the shooter is in the art room, but that’s not going to mean anything unless the others on scene are familiar with the school. With a critical incident map, everyone can see that the art room is in grid F7 on the southeast side of the school and respond accordingly.”
Since 2000, Michigan school districts have been required to share information with law enforcement in their community to help police respond to incidents on school grounds. This includes building plans, blueprints, or site plans for each school building. Mueller’s plan, House Bill 6042, would allow schools to submit digital critical incident mapping data instead.
“In a school shooter situation, clear communication between first responders will save time and save lives,” Mueller said. “We have to use all of the resources, technology and knowledge we have to protect our kids.”
Mueller, who chairs the House Government Operations Committee, held a hearing to discuss his plan this week.
The representative is also fighting to make grant funding available to schools for critical incident mapping through the state budget process. The spending plan approved by the House this week includes $200 million for school safety grants, in addition to $50 million for school resource officers and $8.4 million or each intermediate school district to hire a mental health coordinator and an emergency and safety manager.
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