Pictured Above: Newly secured doors of Appleton Library after shooting tragedy and that will allow staff to know better who is coming and going from the facility.

The Situation

Conveniently located 30 miles southwest of Green Bay and 100 miles north of Milwaukee, Appleton is a small, inviting city in Northeast Wisconsin that overlooks the Fox River. The city is perhaps most famous as the boyhood town of famed magician Harry Houdini. But when one of the busiest public places in this ordinarily peaceful town became the location of a violent incident, city leaders quickly took proactive action to protect the community.

In May 2019, a tragic shooting occurred in front of the Appleton library and the city’s adjacent Valley Transit Center. An individual being treated for a drug overdose shot and killed a firefighter and injured a police officer before being shot by law enforcement officials. The city had previously addressed security in the neighborhood around the city’s library, but this frightening incident made security an even higher priority.

Collaborative efforts and proactive action create a winning solution.

The city needed a security solution. Rudy Nyman, former police captain for Appleton Police Department and now Public Safety Business Development Manager for Nielson Communications, Inc., had an answer. Nyman was very familiar with Response Technologies. He has used Centurion Scout Portable Alarm Systems during his 27 years in law enforcement. “I knew Response Technologies offered quality products,” Nyman says. Because of this, Nyman was enthusiastic about his organization’s partnership with Response Technologies after the Appleton library shooting incident. He was confident Nielson Communications and Response Technologies could offer the city an effective total security solution.

Collaboration was vital—with Response Technologies and Nielson, city officials, and law enforcement. Nyman and the Response Technologies channel team initially met with Dean Gazza, Parks, Recreation & Facilities Management Director, who manages the library and other city buildings, and Colleen Rortvedt, Appleton Library Director, among other city officials.

According to Nyman, when introduced to Response Technologies’ Centurion Elite® security system, two points particularly hit home. Officials were impressed with the two-second response time from sensor activation to responder notification and the system’s agility. The city could invest in the system, later expand to other parts of the city, and even relocate it to a new library facility. Eventually, they didn’t want that Appleton library shooting incident to happen again. “What appealed to me about the solution recommended by Nielson Communications was the ease of installation into our existing building,” says Gazza. “I was extremely pleased to know that we would not have to run new wiring and we would have the flexibility for future growth.”

The Appleton Library Security Solution After Appleton Library Shooting Incident

The Appleton Library Security Solution
According to Nyman, creating a total solution began with many walk-throughs to determine the locations of door sensors, the number of panic buttons, and other factors. Moreover, Nielson Communications’ two-way radios for critical incident communication complemented the Centurion Elite® system and tools to provide a total solution that includes the following:

Centurion Elite®.

This award-winning enterprise solution sends emergency alert notifications to first responders direct-to-radio, by text, and by email through PC Alert.

PCAlert® that suits to protect Appleton library from future tragics just like shooting in past

Runs on any Windows-based PC to
provide alerts on desktops throughout the library.

One-button duress (emergency/panic) buttons and two-button duress buttons

Are in various locations throughout the library.

Door and window sensors throughout the building

Alert staff if doors are opened, closed, or propped open. Some are only active at certain times, based on areas in use.

Front-door lock-down system

It uses magnetic locks, and the two-function duress buttons not only lock the front door remotely from an outside threat but also activate a radio notification to Appleton’s police department that instantly reaches all officers on duty.

Public Wall Lock Down Button

Located on the library’s exterior wall can be hit to notify staff that there’s a disturbance outside so employees can use the two-function duress buttons to lock the doors. Although manufactured by a different company, the Centurion Elite® components work seamlessly with this separate resource.

Portable two-way radios

Support critical communication. “To have a well-rounded security solution, we have to have a good partner, especially in the radio venue,” said one member of Response Technologies Ltd. Channel team. They also add that communication is critical for those who must react in an emergency. They need the ability to receive information as quickly as first responders, so they know what to do—where to go to avoid harm’s way. “Our radios with the Centurion Elite® system offer a full-service solution and augment the system with an extra layer of security protection and customer service,” says Nyman. The radios provide a total communications solution with the ability to talk to any part of the library. Even in non-emergency situations, such as alerting a custodian to a facility issue.

Training and follow-up after the Appleton library shooting

“Training is an important part of the system for staff and law enforcement,” adds Nyman, who has years of active shooter response training and functions as lead trainer. “Personnel are very confident after training in what’s expected and what the system can and can’t do.” Quick fact sheets further help.
“The library leadership didn’t rush into going live with the system,” Nyman adds. “They wanted to ensure everyone was onboard and trained – from dispatching to staff to officers – so if a button is pushed and a message goes out, everyone knows what they need to do.”

Ready to move and grow after Appleton library shooting

The strong group collaboration has ensured the best system for the library, Nyman shares. He praises Director Rortvedt for driving the decision to add extra security for library visitors and staff. “The Appleton Public Library welcomes over 400,000 visitors a year from all ages and walks of life,” says Rortvedt. “We must have the tools to keep the public and staff safe. More, the tools are easy to use. This system helps give staff peace of mind that should they need to call for help. The police will be notified instantly and respond to the location in the building where they are needed.”


Appleton Library Exterior

Nielson Communications and Response Technologies installed the system in October 2019 and finalized add-ons in February 2020. “I think the library appreciates the customer service we’ve provided,” says Nyman. “We didn’t just install the system and disappear. We’ve continued supporting them, whether working with the IT director to install PCAlert upgrades or providing additional training. The working relationship is significant to us.”

All public libraries take their roles as public institutions that serve all very seriously. Several in the area have asked Rortvedt about this system and started evaluating their needs. In the meantime, library visitors and staff in Appleton can use the facility confidently. Although, knowing that security systems are in place should they ever be needed.

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