- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2016

DALLAS (AP) - Grapevine native and former SMU defensive back Jack Brewer says he’s sick of athletes and black men being portrayed as hostile toward police.

The Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/28QpedU ) reports that’s one reason he recruited eight athletes to invest in COPsync, an Addison-based software company that wants to help protect police officers and the public. Six are former NFL players, one is a current NFL player and one is a former collegiate volleyball player.

“The community in general is tired about hearing about negative stories,” Brewer, 37, also a former NFL player, said. “People want to hear about the good things that their beloved athletes are doing.”

Brewer has come a long way since leaving the NFL in 2006.

Within a year, he became a wealth manager for Merrill Lynch’s global private client group. In 2009, he founded the Brewer Group, a Minneapolis-based investment advisory firm that specializes in helping athletes invest in socially focused business endeavors. COPsync fit the bill.

The software acts like an Amber Alert for police officers, a database for law enforcement agencies to share field notes and a messaging platform that allows users to silently alert police to emergencies.

Players like former Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis and former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice are now COPsync brand ambassadors. Some also invest, but they all work with the company’s marketing and sales team to sell the products.

Brewer’s business associates had heard about COPsync and arranged for him to meet with company CEO Ron Woessner last fall. Brewer said he recognized a chance to bring high-profile athletes together in support of police officers.

COPsync was founded by two Texas law enforcement officers, Shane Rapp and Russell Chaney, after their colleague, Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Randy Vetter, was shot during a traffic stop in 2000 along Interstate 35 south of Austin. Vetter died four days later.

Vetter’s assailant had previously made death threats against officers, but the information was not shared with other law enforcement agencies.

Rapp and Chaney recruited Woessner to join COPsync in 2010. He had been an executive at Dallas-based Zix Corp., an email encryption firm, for more than 10 years before forming his own general counsel services company for startups. COPsync’s mission - keeping officers and the public safe - drew him in.

“These men and women are putting their lives on the line every day,” Woessner said. “What they’re doing is fulfilling our most basic need: to be safe and secure.”

Through COPsync, officers can send a message for help through their phones and computers to the five nearest officers and local dispatchers. The software also allows responding officers to silently communicate with the distressed officer as help nears.

COPsync’s database permits law enforcement agencies from all over the U.S. to share notes from the field on suspicious activities - information that other officers want to share, Woessner said.

COPsync can be good for smaller police departments that cannot keep up with rapid technology changes, said Wills Point police Chief Rob Powell.

Officers in Wills Point, about 50 miles east of Dallas, cannot talk to nearby departments if their radio systems operate on different frequencies.

“I can stand literally 5 feet away,” Powell said. “If I tried to talk to them on my radio, there’s no way the radios can communicate.”

Wills Point signed a contract with COPsync in 2009, making it one of the first police departments to adopt the software. It cost $35,000 to buy laptops for all seven vehicles, the printers and the software. Now they pay a monthly $10 fee per officer to keep their software updated, Powell said.

Powell described an incident last year when COPsync proved vital. A child was duct-taped and thrown into the back of a vehicle that took off east on Interstate 20. None of Wills Point’s officers were near the highway, so Powell logged onto his computer and used COPsync’s automobile vehicle locator to find a police department near I-20 that used COPsync.

Lindale police blocked the highway, stopped the vehicle and rescued the child.

COPsync is used by about half of the state’s 254 sheriff departments, 202 counties in Texas and in 11 other states. But those are not the only customers; the Archdiocese of Boston recently implemented COPsync’s threat alert system at its central administration office.

The company’s fortunes were boosted in November when it raised $10.6 million in a public stock offering. Its revenue is growing, too, rising 4 percent from $5.9 million in 2014 to $6.1 million in 2015.

But COPsync ended 2015 with a net loss of $6.4 million, about $2 million more than the year before. Woessner said the loss is attributable to accrued expenses and increased operating costs as the company builds its sales team. During an analysts’ call in March, Woessner said the company is keeping an eye toward reaching positive cash flow next year.

One of Woessner’s biggest goals is to sign up a large metropolitan law enforcement agency in Texas by the end of this year and leverage that across the U.S.

That’s where the brand ambassadors come in.

Former Chicago Bears player Tommie Harris Jr. helped COPsync secure a contract with the Colbert Police Department in Bryan County, Oklahoma, marking the company’s first deal in that state, Woessner said. And Harris and Portis appeared with Woessner on a May 10 Fox Business segment.

As COPsync expands its customer base, technology and security experts such as Ken Trump are viewing the software with curiosity and caution.

COPsync’s technology is well-intended, said Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, a Cleveland-based consulting firm specializing in school security. But he is concerned about the “devil in the detail,” such as what technological training is required and what policies must be implemented.

Most schools will never experience a shooting, he said. Custody battles that spill over onto school property are more common.

“Schools have to make sure their focus isn’t skewed just on active-shooter threats and that they’re looking at all the other security threats,” Trump said.

___

Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com

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