• 41°

Keeping schools safe

Police participate in shooter exercise

School Shooting Detector

Pipe bombs and butcher knives. Who would have expected middle school students to bring such weapons into school  buildings or on campuses here in Rowan County?

But they did in recent incidents, fortunately without hurting anyone. This is the reality of life today. A kid doesn’t have to be holding a gun to be armed and dangerous. Between confused kids, desperate criminals and homegrown terrorists, the nation is more aware than ever of how vulnerable we are to violence.

So are businesses, including those that provide security systems. This week officials a Methuen, Massachusetts, elementary school held a simulated shooting to see how “active shooter” technology could help police respond quickly. Sensors installed in classrooms and hallways were activated by the sound of dummy rounds being fired in the school library. Police officers instantly tracked the shooter’s movements down a hallway and stopped him.

“It’s amazing, the short, split-second amount of time from identification of the shot to transmission of the message,” said Metheun’s police chief, Joseph Solomon. “It changes the whole game. Without that shot detection system, we wouldn’t know what was going on in the school. … Valuable, valuable time can be lost.”

That brings back memories of SWAT officers gathering around Columbine High School in 1999, not knowing where the shooters were. And Virginia Tech. And Sandy Hook Elementary. And so on.

Sensors cannot prevent the first shots from being fired, but they could help limit losses by pinpointing the shooter’s location for police. Shooter Detection Systems installed the Methuen system — said to be the first in a public school in the U.S. —  but other companies are also marketing “active shooter” systems to schools, malls, airports and other public buildings. Some say the systems could become as common as smoke detectors and fire sprinklers.

Technology is ramping up to detect danger, but it would be a poor replacement for school resource officers. Sensors could not have knocked the knife out of a West Rowan Middle School student’s hand, for example. Instead, technology is a tool to help officers do their job.  We’d like to live in a time and place where “active shooters” are unheard of, but that time is long past.

Comments

Local

Scout’s Honor: With dedication of flag retirement box, Salem Fleming earns Eagle Scout rank

College

North Carolina king, queen of NCAA lacrosse tourneys

High School

High school football: State’s top honor goes to Jalon Walker

Education

Kannapolis seniors walk elementary schools

Local

Local real estate company employees come out in force to build Habitat house

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Auditors find oversight lacking for $3 billion of state’s pandemic aid

Nation/World

When will gas situation return to normal?

Local

Rowan native Shuping posthumously receives Concord Police Department’s Medal of Valor, Purple Heart

News

GOP measure on penalties for rioting draws fire

News

Black high school softball player told to cut hair

Coronavirus

State shows 303 COVID-19 deaths in Rowan

Coronavirus

CDC: Fully vaccinated people can largely ditch masks indoors

Crime

One arrested, another hospitalized in Castor Road stabbing

China Grove

China Grove Roller Mill open for tours Saturday

News

Facing personnel deficiencies, local fire departments request tax rate increases

Local

‘Panic buying’ creates gas supply shortages locally, statewide after pipeline cyberattack

Business

Twice as nice: Planet Smoothie opens alongside Cold Stone Creamery in co-branded store

Local

Spencer board gets update on South Iredell rat problem

Education

West Rowan teacher awarded $15,000 outdoor learning grant

Cleveland

Town of Cleveland plans celebration May 22

High School

High school girls tennis: Busy Hornets win again easily

High School

High school softball: Nixon, Walton top all-county team

Education

All Hood Alumni and Friends Symposium scheduled June 18