On Wednesday’s NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie introduced “a new Rossen Reports series, Keeping You Safe” to show off “new technology that promises to protect you and help avoid attackers.” Correspondent Jeff Rossen declared: “Can your smart phone help protect you when you’re out there alone? This morning, new apps and devices you can get right now that could save your life and we're trying them out.”
He noted “Women’s safety back in the headlines right now in a major way” and cited the recent case of “that terrifying abduction of a woman in California, a mom grabbed by kidnappers in broad daylight. She was out for a run by herself. Her family says she had her cell phone with her when she was attacked...” Sherri Papini was kidnapped, brutally beaten, and dumped by the side of the road weeks later.
Rossen began the segment, “You're walking alone, no one else around. And that's when an attacker could strike... Missa Baker is a waitress who leaves work late at night. Today trying out popular new apps and gadgets that promise to protect women.” He described a panic button device and two smart phone apps designed to call for help in the event of an attack. The headline on-screen announced: “Stopping Dangerous Attackers; New Apps Sense Trouble and Alert Police.”
At no point was any self defense discussed, including using a firearm. Instead, one of the apps simply recorded video of the attacker and sent it to friends and family with a request for assistance.
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Another app was somewhat more useful in that it alerted police directly, but only after a 20-second delay.
In a report back in 2014, Rossen offered tips on how to defend yourself during a home invasion. His suggestions included spraying the intruder with bug spray or pressing the alarm button on your car key fob remote. If those methods were to fail, he advised viewers to treat the criminals “like royalty.” Again, no mention was made of owning a gun.
Here is a full transcript of Rossen’s November 30 segment:
7:41 AM ET
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: It’s 7:41, we’ve got the start of a new Rossen Reports series, Keeping You Safe. And this morning, the new technology that promises to protect you and help avoid attackers.
MATT LAUER: Today national correspondent Jeff Rossen is here to show you how this might work. Jeff, good morning to you.
JEFF ROSSEN: Hey, guys, good morning to you. Women’s safety back in the headlines right now in a major way. As we have been reporting right here on Today, that terrifying abduction of a woman in California, a mom grabbed by kidnappers in broad daylight. She was out for a run by herself. Her family says she had her cell phone with her when she was attacked and that got us thinking. Can your smart phone help protect you when you’re out there alone? This morning, new apps and devices you can get right now that could save your life and we're trying them out.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Stopping Dangerous Attackers; New Apps Sense Trouble and Alert Police]
You're walking alone, no one else around. And that's when an attacker could strike.
MISSA BAKER: You hear about it all the time and I always wonder, like, could that be me? There’s a lot times where I could be defenseless.
ROSSEN: Missa Baker is a waitress who leaves work late at night. Today trying out popular new apps and gadgets that promise to protect women. Up first, Wearsafe, a virtual panic button at your fingerprints.
So how does it work?
BAKER: The cool thing about it is it’s wearable, it clips right to my keys. If I feel in trouble, I just hit the button and it audio records, it even backtracks 60 seconds.
ROSSEN: So it’s recording audio in realtime and even what happened a few seconds ago.
BAKER: Exactly, and it sends that to my friends with my exact GPS location to let them know I’m in trouble or that I would need help.
ROSSEN: That’s pretty cool, so let's try it out.
BAKER: Alright, so I would give a description, “I'm being followed by a tall man in a red jacket with dark denim,” and then I’d hit the button.
ROSSEN: And that's it?
BAKER: That's it.
ROSSEN: Across town, Missa’s friend, Lindsay.
LINDSAY: I just got an alert from Missa.
ROSSEN: Missa’s precise GPS location pops on the screen and the audio file, too.
BAKER: I'm being followed by a tall man in a red jacket with dark denim.
ROSSEN: This next one goes even further, an app called BSafe, recording video as soon as you trigger an alert.
BAKER: So now I’m going to hit the alarm button and it’ll give a countdown of three, two, one, and it starts recording you.
ROSSEN: And it’s recording me, if I were the real attacker right now – oh, an alarm goes off as well. If I were a real attacker right now, no matter where I went, you’d follow me with the camera and this actually gets texted to her friends and it actually calls one of your friends, as well, to let them know what's going on. And by the way, this app has GPS coordinates, too, which is kind of cool.
BAKER: It’s really cool.
ROSSEN: But app number three may be the most advanced of all, called Lifeline Response, not only tracking you, but calling the police instantly. You walk with your thumb on the screen. If your thumb comes off, it sounds the alarm.
Okay, we’re going to test this in real time. Right now Missa and I are standing in a random parking lot here in a Chicago suburb. We should mention, the local police have no clue where we are right now and we’re going to try this out. Your thumb is on that button, take your thumb off like if you were being attacked and automatically it starts counting you down. You have 18 seconds to type in your personal pin number that no one else knows. The alarm is already going off. Now obviously don’t type in your pin because if you were being attacked, you wouldn't.
EMMA: This is Emma from Lifeline Response. We have received your emergency distress alert. I have notified the local police of the situation and transmitted your GPS coordinates.
EMMA: The police are currently en route to your location. Again, the police are en route.
ROSSEN: Within moments, Lifeline Response tracks Missa's location and calls the cops. I hear the sirens, they're coming. This is crazy.
BAKER: Oh, my god.
ROSSEN: This is crazy. That took less than a minute.
BAKER: That was so fast, that's crazy.
ROSSEN: You guys knew exactly where to come?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN [POLICE OFFICER]: Exactly where to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN [POLICE OFFICER]: It doesn't get any better than this.
ROSSEN: What do you make of this app?
OFFICER: I love the app because traditional 911 doesn’t give you this, it gives you a radius.
ROSSEN: What do you make of this?
BAKER: If I was really in an emergency situation, this really could have saved my life.
ROSSEN: Here’s the good news, you can download these apps right now, they work on iPhone and Android devices, you guys always ask me that, they work on both. And they’re all pretty cheap, too. The wearable one, the one right here, and the one that calls the cops, those are around $5 a month. The one that takes video is completely free. And to make this easier, we have a complete list, with links, on our website right now, Today.com.
LAUER: Such a sign of the times that as that story’s running we're all sitting there glued to the monitors.
GUTHRIE: Yeah. But if you're a jogger, I mean, that’s a great little app.
ROSSEN: Especially the little thumb one, yeah.
GUTHRIE: Thank you.
LAUER: Alright, Jeff, thank you very much.