School districts in New Mexico have begun installing advanced gunshot-detection devices in the wake of February’s Parkland school shooting.
Used by the military to detect snipers and missiles, and police in Chicago and Baltimore to deter gun violence, gunshot-detection devices are becoming a popular tool to save lives—and, now, a reminder of the potential violence facing America’s students.
Hermosa Elementary in Artesia, New Mexico, received a free pilot installation of the devices in April. The sensors, each roughly the size of a pack of gum, are attuned to the specific audio signatures of gunfire. Sharp enough to distinguish between real gunshots and firecrackers or other loud noises, the sensors also transmit the location of gunfire they detect.
The sensors installed at Hermosa Elementary are connected with various safety systems throughout the building. When gunshots are detected, the devices can be set to notify police, redirect cameras to the source of the gunshot, and even lock doors to keep out attackers. As automatically locking doors can trap students in, as well as keeping attackers out, schools are encouraged to run drills and familiarize students with the security system.
Hermosa Elementary tested the system’s accuracy by bringing in police to fire real guns at the school during off hours. The system detected the sound of gunshots, reporting their location and locking doors as intended, reports Northwest News Network.
School representatives told NWN that they’re looking into installing the devices into more buildings in the district and have received inquiries from schools throughout the state. A full installation system costs between $60,000 and $150,000.
“It’s sad that we’re in a society where we have to have stuff like this,” Scott Simer, facilities manager for the school district, told NWN. “And that we are testing stuff like this in a school. But the reality is, it happens.”