Newark, Calif. (CBS SACRAMENTO) — Gunshot-detecting sensors that can pinpoint the exact location of shots fired have been installed in the first U.S. high school in hopes police could arrive directly at the scene of a potential school shooting.
Newark Memorial High School in California is the first school in the U.S. to be equipped with the ShotSpotter gunshot-sensing technology, CBS News reports.
During tests, the gunshot sensors and microphones placed in the school were able to detect shots to within 10 feet of where they were fired.
Seconds later, police officers took the readings from sensors inside hallways and offices in more than 20 buildings on the 43-acre campus to pinpoint the site of an active shooter at the school.
“Yes, there are. In fact there’s one right outside my office,” Newark Memorial High School principal Phil Morales, a former police officer, told CBS News.
Morales supports the sensors and compared the gunshot microphones placed throughout the school to the necessity of fire alarms.
“Why do we need a fire alarm right, it’s there,” Morales told CBS News. “If there’s a fire that happens, and the alarm goes off, we know how to react.”
FBI data shows there have been 27 school shootings in the U.S. between 2000 and 2013, resulting in 57 deaths and 60 injuries. Guadalupe Leyva, a soon-to-be-senior at Newark Memorial, tells CBS News that she has considered how the school would react in the case of an active school shooter situation.
“Personally I have thought of it and the school shootings that have happened,” said Leyva. “You never know.
“It won’t stop a school shooting but it’ll get us to the shooter quicker,” said Newark Police Commander Mike Carroll. “It’ll get us medical aid to those people who are injured in a shooting much, much faster.”
The American Civil Liberties Union’s Jay Stanley has expressed concern over the privacy issue exposed by the abundance of microphones and sensors placed throughout every corner of the school grounds. But ShotSpotter says the microphones aren’t designed to record or eavesdrop on people’s conversations on campus.
“We want our children to be safe, we also want them to be brought up as Americans who don’t feel that they’re being monitored every moment of their time,” said Stanley.
ShotSpotter says the goal of the gunshot security system is to reduce the cost of fire monitoring. But some cash-starved school districts say the estimated $15,000 installation and maintenance costs are too excessive.