North Carolina School Deploys Integrated Gunshot Detection System

The technology often used by police agencies to pinpoint gunfire on city streets is also being used at one of the state’s charter schools.

by The High Point Enterprise / August 15, 2018
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(TNS) — HIGH POINT, N.C. — Phoenix Academy, a charter school in High Point, is installing a state-of-the-art $400,000 gunshot detection system, the first school in North Carolina with the technology, said school founder Paul Norcross.

The school held a press event to unveil their new safety measures, with various city officials in attendance.

The system is modeled after gunshot detection technology used in Iraq and Afghanistan by the U.S. military, according to Kendra Noonan with Shooter Detection Systems. The technology is credited with saving over 250 lives in the Middle East, she said.

Noonan said the system has been tested for over a year in the United Kingdom and detects gunshots using acoustic technology and infrared sensors.

"The system needs to tell the difference between a locker slamming, a book dropping or a car backfiring," Noonan said. "The system detects the bang of the gun using acoustic microphones and the infrared flash of the weapon. Only when those two things happen does it sound the alarm."

Once a shot is detected, 911 dispatchers are notified of the shot's location within the school and a shots fired call is automatically dispatched to police. In addition to the shots fired call, law enforcement will have access to cameras in the school that will broadcast from where the shots were fired, Noonan said.

Chief of Police Ken Shultz said the system would help police tactically.

"One of the problems that always arises is the fact that communication, specifically the communication of accurate information is the most troubling issue that we have," Shultz said. "The quick release of information, the accurate information, we're very pleased with that."

The system will not become fully integrated with High Point 911 dispatch until January, Norcross said. In the meantime, the system will be accessible through the superintendent's office in the school.

Rep. John Faircloth (R) said that he would support funding to put the gunshot detection system in every school in North Carolina.

"We're finally seeing us coming into this period of our lives doing something about school safety with technology," Faircloth said. "If it works the way it's advertised then we are going to be implementing this across our country, and North Carolina. I'm going to do my very best to see that North Carolina participates fully in that. Because we should not have any parent in the morning seeing their child going off to school and thinking there's really not as much out there to protect my child as there could be."

©2018 The High Point Enterprise (High Point, N.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.