Indiana school unveils ‘revolutionary’ security system to thwart shooters

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SHELBY COUNTY, Ind.  — An Indiana high school was chosen to be the first in the country to be installed with a revolutionary security system to thwart school shootings.

Southwestern High School was handpicked by the Indiana Sheriff’s Association to be armed with the new technology, which networks the school with local law enforcement.

“I think that Newtown, Sandy Hook, really made people understand, made us all understand this could happen to us,” said Dr. Paula Maurer, superintendent of Southwestern Consolidated Schools. “Now is the time to do something about it. We have some answers. We have the technology. We have ways to make our kids safer and we have to do it.”

The story of their new and advanced security system began with Montgomery County Deputy Sheriff Mike Kersey. Like many in law enforcement, Kersey was looking for better ways to protect the public, especially children.

“School should be a safe haven,” he said. “It should be a place where kids shouldn’t have to worry about not coming home.”

Kersey knew, however, there were problems with the way authorities were responding to school shootings across the nation, and it was proven again and again during active shooter drills. He explained that authorities simply did not have the tools to prevent or quickly stop an attack. They were doing the best they could with what they had.

“All the training we were doing wasn’t really mitigating the incident,” Kersey explained to FOX59.

According to Kersey, it takes an average two to four minutes after a shooting has begun, before someone calls 911. Usually, the caller is already under attack or has only heard gunshots and can only provide little information about the active scene. It also takes time for authorities to get to the incident site. All the while, they have very few details about what exactly is happening inside and where.

“In my building, the Sheriff`s department is aware of what’s going on within seconds,” touted Maurer.

Kersey told FOX59 that he came across a website for Net Talon, a Virginia-based company that created the virtual command technology he’d been yearning for. Kersey and Net Talon began working with the ISA and completed installation of the system at Southwestern this summer.

Here’s how it works.

Every teacher is required to wear a key fob which they would press if there was a life-threatening emergency. That activates the security system and immediately notifies law enforcement. Teachers are directed to get students into their classrooms and shut the door which automatically locks. Inside the classrooms, teachers have a tool that helps them report whether their class is safe, under attack, or dealing with an injury.

Miles away, Shelby County deputies have instantly received a complete layout of the school, which classrooms are safe, and what’s going on.

On top of that, they can also begin tracking the shooter through surveillance cameras and sensors throughout the building.

“‘We can locate him. We can get a description of him immediately. We can track him throughout the building. We know his weapons platform. We know what he’s doing and where he’s doing it instantly,” explained Kersey.

If the shooter reaches a classroom, a new hardened door stands in his way. This door cannot be breached in mere seconds.

“We’ve enhanced the hinging system to prevent that. We’ve enhanced the view port where it’s ballistic-ally protected. And we’ve enhanced the locking mechanism where it can’t be breached,” Kersey told FOX59.

As authorities are en route to the school, deputies back at the sheriff’s department can set off a non-life threatening counter attack. It’s a mechanism we cannot detail to ensure the integrity of the system.

“We can start controlling where (the suspect) goes within the building,” adds Kersey. “Which leads to our advantage… and now we are choosing the battle ground, not him.”

Another tool for teachers and students is a safety kit found inside every classroom which includes a tourniquet in case someone is suffering from a gunshot wound, but cannot be seen by paramedics immediately.

“We don’t have to wait till the incident really is about over with, which is what was happening before,” said Maurer. “Now they have instantaneous information about the perpetrator, about where that person is. And (deputies) can begin doing counter measures immediately. They don’t have to wait till they get here.”

ISA is backing Southwestern High School as the Best Practice Solution for School Safety, hoping to set new standards for schools across the country.

Southwestern High’s project was mostly funded by Net Talon. The district is also using some grant money to offset the costs. Maurer and Kersey hope educators and parents will challenge legislators to find more federal dollars for upgrades.

“My hope is that there is never another child ever hurt by violence in a school again,” said Maurer. “It’s here. It’s now. We’ve gotta do it. Now is the time.”

There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony on Sept. 11 at 6 p.m. at the high school. Officials will begin by holding a memorial in memory of the victims of Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook.

8 comments

  • MamaBear

    Sounds good in theory, but someone determined to take innocent life will adjust to get their goal met. Putting God back in school will do more for our society woes.

  • cdiemer

    Avg. cost of a new school security system = $300,000?

    Cost of a couple trained concealed cary teacher volunteers = Free

    If you are a taxpayer or a teacher not getting paid what you are worth, where do you think the money for this system will come from? And it still wont stop a shooter from shooting. Only a good guy with a gun does that.

    • Concerned for our kids

      To put a gun in a teachers hand and expect them to use it accurately and quickly in an adrenaline high situation then deal with the consequences after is expecting a lot. Police train for these scenarios all the time and it’s still difficult for them, yet you want that liability as well as the aftermath placed on an armed teachers shoulders. In theory that sounds like it should work but your expecting that couple of armed teachers to be in the right place at the right time or go seeking once the trouble has started with no backup.

      • Bubba

        The point you miss is that school shootings occur because the mental defective KNOWS the school is a gun free zone. They not need fear any guns in the zone. If just SOME teachers and administrators have guns, then it is no longer a gun free zone and they will have to move on to some place else which is safe for THEM.

  • Eli

    Not to be a negative Nellie, but if someone is hell bent on hurting others, why not just pull a smoke alarm and make everyone come outside to you? That would negate the millions this system will cost. This only works if they’re inside the building. It seems more than this will simply fatten the wallets of the people that install it (under the guise of: “think of the children and if you don’t then you’re horrible and want this to happen”)?

    Our local school board suggests Richmond already needs $35,000,000 in immediate and mandatory repairs. Mayor Dwight Jones feels secure enough to say the schools are OK and only serve 11% of the population. He also wants to give the average tax payer a $20 tax savings on their property by dropping the tax rate. Since our schools only serve 11% of the population, I’m not sure the Mayor would allow a system like this. And besides, when the kids go home, they’re the problem of the Richmond Housing Authority. Right, Mr Mayor?

  • christcrusader

    Another plan to aid the police in their investigation but does nothing to stop the killer in his tracks.
    First responders are always the victims and witnesses. They’re who need to be armed.
    Police are backup and the first investigators.
    When seconds count, the police are minutes away. This just provides some extra security for the police so tat they know what they’re walking into. The school already knows, but are cowering in place helplessly, while the police set up their police line around the perimeter and prepare to go in where the teachers, staff, and students already are.

    “It should be a place where kids shouldn’t have to worry about not coming home.”
    Everywhere anyone goes, there’s a chance you might not come home. Vehicle accidents, fire, storms, armed killers can get you anywhere. It helps tremendously if you’re equipped to defend against such – with seatbelt, fire extinguisher, escape plan, shelter plans, weather alerts, and a gun for self defense.
    Having a gun for self defense is not at all like a criminal using a gun for a crime. The gun may be in both places, but the person and intent is what changes everything. Stop focusing on the gun. American gun rights are there to use the tool to save your life against criminal, foreign, domestic, or government dangers.

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