San Antonio Police Department’s SWAT team underwent a training session and demonstration Tuesday of a mobile app aimed at helping first responders more quickly and efficiently save lives during mass shootings.

The LifeSpot app training and press conference took place one week after 19 schoolchildren and two educators were slain by a lone shooter in Uvalde, but company and SAPD officials said the training had been scheduled months in advance.

“We are not down here because of the horrific tragedy down in Uvalde,” Brett Titus, CEO of LifeSpot, told more than two dozen SWAT officers and hostage negotiators. “This app is not the foolproof answer, but I will tell you it will solve a lot of challenges.”

SAPD opened the training up to media after receiving several requests for information related to the department’s active shooter policies, a police spokesman said.

The app’s technology requires customers — the for-profit company markets it to schools, hospitals, corporate campuses and other institutions — to pay a monthly, per-user fee.

With that subscription, the app can decrease emergency response times to incidents, the company claims, by directly connecting on-site security to law enforcement, locating potential victims more quickly and assisting with family reunification after the incident.

When a subscriber triggers the alarm for a critical incident on their phone, the app notifies fellow staff, 911, fire department/EMS, responding officers and commanding officers — but they, too, have to be connected to the app. Details about the property and staff are entered into the app ahead of time by the subscriber.

Titus, who retired from the Denver Police Department in 2019 after 27 years of service, said the app can improve law enforcement communications with people inside buildings during mass shooting events through its discrete text chat function. Users can also identify their location and whether they or people around them are injured or armed.

Brett Titus, CEO of the LifeSpot app, presents his product to members of the SAPD swat team at Cross Mountain Church on Tuesday.
CEO Brett Titus describes the LifeSpot app to members of the SAPD SWAT team at Cross Mountain Church on Tuesday. Both individual subscribers and law enforcement agencies must be on the app for it to work. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

“They can send a chat that goes instantly and directly to law enforcement, giving them that pertinent information that they need,” he said. “That communication piece is a huge benefit for everybody when it comes to these types of situations.”

In the case of a school, all staff members would have the app — but it would not be available to students, Titus said.

So far no schools, employers, or property owners in San Antonio have signed up for the app, Titus said. “We have about a dozen [private schools] right now in the area that are very interested, but they want to make sure that the police department is involved because they’re the integral part.”

SWAT Director Lt. Mark Molter first learned about the app through a conversation with Titus more than a year ago, Molter told reporters. “I was impressed and I started getting the ball rolling on it here.”

Law enforcement agencies don’t pay for the app or training, Titus said.

For now, the department only has plans to train the SWAT team — which consists of about 30 members — on the app, Police Chief William McManus told reporters. It’s not yet clear when or if the app will be used department-wide.

“There needs to be a little more conversation about this with SWAT after the training to see what their take on it is,” he said. “From what I’ve seen … it sounds pretty good. …. It provides us more information than we might normally have and that’s critical when it comes to responding to one of these incidents.”

But that depends on institutions buying subscriptions and downloading the app. “It’s worthless until someone has it,” McManus said.

The chief expressed confidence in SAPD’s current active shooter policies, noting that SAPD would assume control over school district police for an active shooter incident.

“Our protocol is very, very clear in our general manual,” he said. “When we respond to an active shooter type situation, the first officer who arrives is required to go in. There is no wait.”

SAPD’s special weapons and tactics team is not typically the first to respond to critical incidents such as an active shooter, Molter said, but he thinks the app could be helpful to his team.

“If a participating location has the application, it lets us know who the severely injured are and now I can direct our rescue task force folks directly to those people, whereas standard protocol may be a systematic search of the building, and we may not get to them for several minutes.”

SAPD has been in talks with LifeSpot for nearly a year, Molter said, but Tuesday was the first time SWAT team members interacted with the app. After a tutorial and Q&A session with Titus in front of assembled media, officers searched for mock victims inside Cross Mountain Church, where the training was held.

Several volunteers were given instructions on the app, told where to be in the building and then waited until officers found them or were given instructions through the app.

Molter said the app would in no way replace 911, and that if it works as marketed, the app would simply be an additional tool that could speed up response times.

Brett Titus, CEO of the LifeSpot app, presents his product to members of the SAPD swat team at Cross Mountain Church on Tuesday.
CEO Brett Titus told members of the SAPD SWAT team that the LifeSpot app “is not the foolproof answer, but I will tell you it will solve a lot of challenges” regarding emergency responses to mass shootings. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

The LifeSpot app launched in 2020 in Colorado. About 20 law enforcement agencies nationwide use the app, Titus said, but SAPD is the first in Texas to give it a test.

LifeSpot maintains data related to how users engage with the app during an incident, Titus said, which could be used after an incident to better understand how events unfolded.

“We’ll keep all that stuff for learning purposes.”

The company’s data would not be subject to public access, meaning if the app failed in some way, the public would likely have no way of knowing what went wrong. But if the law enforcement agency requests that data, LifeSpot would hand it over, he said.

The SWAT team’s Molter acknowledged that private technologies like LifeSpot could create disparities in response times for institutions that don’t pay for them.

“It’s very possible [a school] could be at a disadvantage” if it doesn’t have the app, Molter said. “But again, we still have our protocols in place. 911 is still in place, this application doesn’t bypass 911. … If a location doesn’t have it, it just may take a little bit longer.”

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Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at