Monday, December 08, 2014

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NYTimes |  With a rapid-response team and regular lockdown drills, the school district here, like many across the country, has long been steeling itself for the nightmare scenario of a school shooting.
But over the past two years, a new high-tech approach has been tested at one of the schools here — officials will not say which one — to see whether it is possible to react more effectively.

Engineers from a company called Shooter Detection Systems have installed infrared sensors and microphones that can pick up the sound of gunfire and immediately notify school and law enforcement officials where and when it has occurred. It was installed free of charge, and school officials were hoping they could find the money to put the system, which costs between $20,000 and $100,000, into more schools.

It does not stop the first shot, but company officials say the system can shorten an attack by taking the human element out of alerting the authorities.
“The time it takes for police to even be notified can take many, many minutes,” said Christian Connors, the company’s chief executive. “What our device does is lessen the time.”

But there is debate about whether military-style measures like a gunshot-detection system are as valuable as more prevention-minded methods. Many experts say limited resources may be better spent on mental health services, training for teachers and students on what to do if their peers talk about bringing a gun to school, or on officers trained to keep schools safe.

Officials in this city of about 50,000, on the New Hampshire border, say their district’s five buildings are no more likely than any other to experience a mass shooting, although they do perimeter lockdowns from time to time when there is crime in the area. But Police Chief Joseph Solomon said he nevertheless tried to stay ahead on school safety practices.

“You can’t just look at your location — you have to look at how is the world changing,” Chief Solomon said. “You see a propensity for violence to increase.”


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