Selling Fear: The First US School Installs A Shooting Detection System

from the fear-itself dept

If there is one thing that really irritates me more than anything else, it's when people use fear as a sales tactic. This gives me many opportunities to be pissed off, since fear is commonly used to sell stuff, with varying degrees of depravity: fear to sell warranties, fear to sell wars, fear to sell surveillance on the public, fear to sell political ideology. But using the fear parents have for their children in the wake of tragic school shootings, particularly doing so while outright lying about statistics to scare the hell out of parents even more, just might be the worst of them all. And that brings us to the news that a Massachusetts school has become the first in America to implement a DARPA developed "shooter detection system."

Authorities fired tester blanks Tuesday in the Methuen, Mass. school, which authorities did not name for security reasons, to demonstrate the Guardian Active Shooter Detection System, which alerts police of gunfire within one second, according to Reuters. Police officers and Democratic congresswoman Niki Tsongas attended the demonstration, but students were not present, as schools were closed for Veteran’s Day.

The technology, which boasts “near zero false alerts,” was developed by Massachusetts-based Shooter Detection Systems, in partnership with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a U.S. government’s military technology development arm. The company also worked with a major defense contractor that has deployed thousands of similar gunshot detection systems to war zones.
Congratulations, America. A defense contractor tried to sell you on the idea that our schools are war zones and you bit like a musky on a minnow. The manufacturer's website, along with most of the accompanying news articles, are filled with statistics all about how school and mass shootings are on the rise. Obviously this serves as evidence that such shooter detection systems are needed. That way, the $100k per school systems can alert authorities when these increasingly common shootings occur. The most common figure you'll hear from these contractors and in the news is the same one authorities used in buying this detection system: there have been 88 school shootings in America since the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012. The claim comes from Everytown.org, an organization dedicated to gun control and safety. And if that statistic sounds shocking to you, there's a very good reason for that: it's complete bullshit.

Politifact summarizes this nonsense nicely:
The main reason for the criticism of Everytown’s count is that its definition of "school shooting" is relatively broad. The group’s criteria goes beyond what many people would consider "school shootings" -- incidents in which a student or an intruder enters a school and fires at innocent students and staff. For many people, this is the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the phrase "school shooting" -- an incident such as Sandy Hook or, before it, the 1999 Columbine shooting in Colorado that left 15 dead, including the shooters.

[Everytown.org's] definition allows for incidents that don’t typically call to mind the term "school shooting" -- for example, a case in which a man unaffiliated with Alogna High/Middle School in Iowa killed himself in the school’s parking lot in the middle of the night, or an early-morning armed robbery on a street that goes through the Marquette University campus in Wisconsin. Both count in Everytown’s tally.
They then tally up the incidents using the common sense school shooting criteria: 10 instances of what we'd actually call school shootings, 39 incidents that were common criminal activity (such as robbery, etc.), 16 cases that occurred outside of school hours by people not affiliated in any way with the school, 6 suicides, and 3 accidental discharges. So, 10 school shootings, as we commonly refer to them, over the past two years. Look, that's 10 too many, of course, and every instance of gun-related death at a school is a tragedy in its own right, but that stupid, wrong, idiotic 74 shootings statistic (before it was 88 school shootings) was pitched to concerned parents, school officials, and politicians by both a company that has insane amounts of money to gain and a complicit, sensationalistic and lazy mass media and nobody is bothering to tell people that these are lies. If the company is pitching an increase in school shootings as a primary reason for spending six figures per school on their product, what happens when I show you that school shootings are not on the rise?
We asked James Fox, a criminology professor at Northeastern University, for some perspective. He pointed to the 2013 "Indicators of School Crime and Safety" report compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. There were about 45 school-associated violent deaths (not just by guns) at elementary and secondary schools each year between the 1992 and 2010 school years, according to the report. The highest annual total was 63 deaths in 2006-07, while the lowest was 31 in 2010-11. In other words, Fox said, the number of gun deaths documented by Everytown over the past year and a half are not out of the ordinary. About 15 to 20 kids in grades K-12 are killed at school each year, along with a similar number of college students, he said.

"I don't mean to minimize the horror of these events or the pain and suffering of victims, but schools are safe, safer than other places that our children spend time," he said. "For some kids, school is even safer than their home."
Yet there is the politician, the school officials, and police, marching through a Massachusetts school, firing off blank rounds within the hallways that, if not for Veteran's Day, would otherwise be filled with young boys and girls, all to test a shooter detection system pitched by a corporation with monied interests on false claims and statistics. That's on us all for not demanding better from ourselves, our media, and our politicians. We deserve to be bilked this way for allowing the pitchmen of fear to prey on us so easily and for setting aside our skepticism in favor of the more facile emotion of terror.


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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 14 Nov 2014 @ 6:39am

    $100k system that can do what every phone can do in the same time.

    Perhaps the real finger should be to report how police officers failed to respond in a timely manner after multiple 911 calls were made.

    I doubt that report exits, considering how well swatting works.

    As for being upset to use fear to sell items, it's the very foundation of democracy. "Vote for me or my opponent will release every child predator captured and raise your taxes!"

    Where's that accursed ELE asteroid. It's late.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 14 Nov 2014 @ 8:10am

    Could be worse

    Yes, this is yet another indication of how we have become a nation of mindless cowards. Schools are much safer now than they were when I was a schoolkid, or when my parents were, and (I'm guessing) when my grandparents were. That's been true for a long while now. And yet, nobody was losing their minds about school safety in those days -- because, outside of specific problem schools, they were pretty damn safe even then.

    That said, this falls into the "could be worse" category for me. If these systems are used instead of filling the schools with cameras and student-tracking technology, then I would be fine with it on the grounds that it's just a waste of money but doesn't count as intrusive surveillance.

    Of course, I know better. It will be used in addition to intrusive surveillance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 11:25am

      Re: Could be worse

      John we're wired to be mindless cowards unfortunately - something only education, logic training, critical thinking, and bias awareness can overcome. All if which are in very short supply in contemporary America.

      Without adequate training and maturity irrational fear overrides logical thinking and rationality so easily that i'm personally amazed we even have a civilization at all. Then again, fear has a way of keeping the populace in line through tools like religion, so maybe it balances out.

      (As an aside, in many instances i'd argue that religion has been a great glue for keeping societies together. When you're afraid of God's retribution in the afterlife for sins committed here, you tend to be less likely to commit them, which plays a big part in keeping anarchy at bay.)

      Here is one of the better articles i've read on the subject:

      http://libertymcg.com/2013/07/23/this-is-your-brain-on-terrorism/

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2014 @ 7:08am

      Re: Could be worse

      "Schools are much safer now than they were when I was a schoolkid, or when my parents were, and (I'm guessing) when my grandparents were. That's been true for a long while now. And yet, nobody was losing their minds about school safety in those days -- because, outside of specific problem schools, they were pretty damn safe even then."


      School playground equipment was notoriously dangerous, especially anything with moving parts, though rarely fatally so. Trees were a major source of injury and sometimes death of children, and even today, they rarely if ever have safety nets installed.

      Although this didn't happen at a schoool, it could have just as well. A few years ago where I worked, a big tree limb broke off and fell on a group of employees (mostly contractors) taking a smoke break. (one of the lesser-known dangers of cigarette smoking!) As usual, lawsuits were filed, and insurance companies took hits.

      But put into perspective, all these dangers, combined, pale in comparison to traffic accidents. Yet very few people are terrified of getting into a car. Strange.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 8:11am

    Oh the 4th of July is going to be a blast in those areas tray droppings , books and once it's found out which has these implemented the kids will find ways to make the Police and School Districts life hell Look out Band Members all of your instruments will be confiscated as weapons of mass destruction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 8:41am

      Re:

      Look out Band Members all of your instruments will be confiscated as weapons of mass destruction.

      Someone's been re-watching Eagle Eye haven't they?

      Quick summery: AI built by government creates bomb to kill the executive branch because they're stupid and blow up a lot of people trying to kill terrorists or something. The bomb is set to go off at a concert after an instrument set with a trigger plays a specific note.

      So ya... weaponized musical instruments played by your local school band.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 14 Nov 2014 @ 8:16am

    And the numbers...

    according to gov fastfacts - 98,817 primary schools; 7,021 secondary for 105,838 - @$100K = $10,583,800,000.00

    sarc
    I'm sure the welfare of the children is worth way more than 10.5 BILLION, isn't it? How dare you say we're only in it for the money...
    /sarc

    Imagine how many politicians can be bought from THAT profit margin..

    /sadtruth

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mcinsand, 14 Nov 2014 @ 8:17am

    using fear to sell

    >>If there is one thing that really irritates me more than
    >>anything else, it's when people use fear as a sales
    >>tactic.

    Then you gotta love broadcast and network news! 'Your water could be killing you! Watch our special at 6 to find out what to do!' Much of the news promos are basically scare-tactics to make the viewer feel more at risk if he/she doesn't watch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 9:00am

      Re: using fear to sell

      The media's coverage of Ebola is a strong indicator that they're selling fear. There have been 4 cases of Ebola in the US. Only 2 got Ebola while in the US. Only 1 person has died in the US from Ebola.

      But from the media coverage, you'd think we were living in the movie 28 Days Later.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 9:08am

        Re: Re: using fear to sell

        I have just hammered the "insightful" button until I wore out my mouse. YES, YES, YES, DAMMIT, YES.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 8:17am

    So how long until some prankster (or even a student with a project on guns/war) plays a sound that mimics a gunshot?
    Then we'll see how true the “near zero false alerts” claim truly stands up in real life.

    If this system produces one false positive there's going to be a shit storm when the police raid a school full of children looking for an armed gunman. You can be sure the police will be on high alert the whole time as well. I shudder to think what might happen if... well do I have to say it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), 14 Nov 2014 @ 8:38am

      Re:

      This system is less about audible detection and more about detecting muzzle flashes.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 9:09am

        Re: Re:

        That requires lots of sensor to cover a school, at least two covering every internal space. Also muzzle flashes are even easier to emulate than the sound, only need a fast burning powder, like crushed match heads, in a tube, like a plastic toy gun.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        tqk (profile), 14 Nov 2014 @ 9:16am

        Re: Re:

        This system is less about audible detection and more about detecting muzzle flashes.

        You mean like firecrackers? If I was still a kid, I'd want to test this thing out (I'm a geek, after all). So, me and three friends buy firecrackers and arrange ourselves in the four corners of the school and set them off at a predetermined time.

        "Multiple shooters armed with automatic weapons have invaded a school. Shooting is in progress!"

        I wonder how many kids are going to be killed in the inevitable SWAT response.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 9:36am

        Re: Re:

        So old school camera flash bulbs (The single use ones) won't trick it?

        And a flash hider on the end of a gun is not enough to prevent detection?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 10:07am

        Re: Re:

        So what happens when someone who happens to have a portable computing device with a high-definition display and a quality sound system decides to play Die Hard 5 (or 6 or whatever they're up to now) while in range of this detector?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 12:46pm

        Re: Re:

        From shooterdetectionsystems.com:
        Guardian uses highly accurate acoustic computations, infrared sensors, and robust processing of that powerful combination to detect and convey the location of gunfire.
        Good thing schools aren't filled with future engineers with youthful tendencies geared towards thrill-seeking and acting out against authority. I'm sure curious, creative kids would never dream of attacking the puzzle of figuring out how to trigger false alarms.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 14 Nov 2014 @ 2:49pm

      Re: there's going to be a shit storm when the police raid a school

      You mean, more of a shit storm than when children are killed by somebody with a gun?

      There seems to be about one school shooting a month in the US, yet people have become remarkably blasé about that. You think that police wasting their time on false alarms will lead to some decent outrage, for a change?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2014 @ 6:00am

        Re: Re: there's going to be a shit storm when the police raid a school

        There's less than one, and each one is an indicator that school shootings are something we should all be crippled with fear about. Or something.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 17 Nov 2014 @ 8:00am

        Re: Re: there's going to be a shit storm when the police raid a school

        That's just media distortion, though (we hear about every single such incident, but assume that we're only hearing about a small number of them).

        Statistically, the percentage of students who are injured or killed due to violent incidents in schools has been a few orders of magnitude lower than ever before. This started being true prior to the militarization of the schools.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Elliot...Just a tech, 25 May 2016 @ 9:12am

      How it works...

      Actually, the chances of a false positive are pretty slim from what I've been told. We had a security walk-thru and this system was mentioned.

      The way it works it by sound & sight. So you need the report from the firearm, plus the muzzle flash.

      I asked, what if someone came in quiet with a suppressor? It would reduce the effective range of the sensor, but you still need to satisfy BOTH conditions to trigger an alert.

      The BANG & the FLASH.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 8:21am

    I can't wait until some kid hits the wall real hard with a baseball bat on a quiet day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chris-Mouse (profile), 14 Nov 2014 @ 8:22am

    It should be interesting to see what happens the first time a child brings some bubble wrap to school.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Geno0wl (profile), 14 Nov 2014 @ 8:24am

    near zero false alerts

    So they boast "near zero false alerts". Which obviously means they acknowledge there is a way to trick the system.
    Who wants to bet the system will be tripped over and over again come finals time?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 8:42am

    Suppose it works. So WHAT?

    As we've seen, police cannot possibly respond fast enough to prevent mass casualties IF the shooter(s) intends to create them and IF they're heavily armed, competent and determined.

    Moreover, a fair number of these shooters don't care if they survive -- so even if police respond (relatively) quickly, even if they quickly and correctly locate the shooter(s), even if they have a clear line of fire, even if they aren't shot first, even if they have the marksmanship to hit the shooters -- by the time all of that happens, a bunch of kids will be wounded or dead anyway.

    This is all presuming, by the way, that the shooter's first act isn't to disable the gunshot detector.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 9:03am

      Re: Suppose it works. So WHAT?

      ...or they can just pull the fire alarm to get everyone outside the building in a convenient, slow-moving group where the system isn't installed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 14 Nov 2014 @ 8:42am

    Authorities fired tester blanks Tuesday in the Methuen, Mass. school, which authorities did not name for security reasons


    Even this sentence is selling the fear. Never mind that security via obscurity pretty much does not work fore things like this, the mere assertion here is ridiculous. There will be people in that town who can look back and think, "Oh, that was what was going on there." And if not, one could always take a wild stab. The population in 2010 was 47.3k. And just how many schools are there? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methuen,_Massachusetts#Education Yeah OK, no one who had some sort of interest would ever figure it out.

    Hm. The high school was renovated this summer. There's a nice video on the town site that probably gives away TOP SEEKRIT building layout information. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moAMatheark They might want to obscure that. Don't tell me it's about pride or just something basically interesting, it's sabotage. Someone better root out the damn fifth columnists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 14 Nov 2014 @ 8:44am

    Is this really the best use of taxpayer money?

    Are school shootings really our number one concern? What about sexting? Wouldn't it be a better use of taxpayer resources to set up fake singray cell phone spoofers in all schools and residential areas near schools in order to find and prosecute kiddies who engage in sexting?

    Oh, wait. Nevermind.

    We don't have to give up on one for the other. We can spend money on both shooting detection systems and singray systems to find sexters.

    And as a bonus, the singray systems can also find if kids say unkind things about teachers or school faculty so that they can be punished.

    OK, carry on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 8:46am

    near zero false alerts

    "Authorities fired tester blanks..."

    If it triggered on blanks...isn't that a false alert...?

    I feel much better about my children's safety since the police "will be alerted within one second" ...

    Meanwhile in reality : "Secret Service officer chatted on cell phone as intruder scaled White House fence"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Geno0wl (profile), 14 Nov 2014 @ 9:01am

    How is this any better?

    $100,000 for a system that is WORSE than an army of kids with cell phones?
    Are you telling me the instant gun fire is heard there will not be 50 people calling 911?
    I would call you a liar and/or fool if you think those 5-15 extra seconds between this system(assuming it could cover the whole school) and those kids dialing 911 could possibly justify the expenditure of this money.
    Let alone the extra cost of upkeep of this system on both the school side and the LEO side.
    This is a massive failure all the way around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2014 @ 6:03am

      Re: How is this any better?

      You forget that phone use during school hours is grounds for confiscation and expulsion. No exceptions for school shootings.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 14 Nov 2014 @ 9:09am

    We have glass breaks detectors in our house.

    It goes off when a balloon pops, someone drops something on the tile floor, and a variety of other things.

    I'd wager something as simple as a slap-stick (or batacchio) might cause a false positive on this system. Or a simple firework. Maybe even a party-popper.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 9:23am

    "The technology, which boasts “near zero false alerts,” "


    This is probably the most concerning statement. The current rate of a shooting at a school is about 0.0094% per year (based on school numbers from a previous poster and the article). The false alarm rate is almost assuredly higher. This means armed SWAT teams are that much more likely to bust into the school based on an automated alarm.

    Certainly this system is not actually improving safety of it causes an increase in the likelihood of armed men running through the school.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tim A, 14 Nov 2014 @ 9:59am

    For the children!!

    A $100K per school system sold using evil tactics for a false sense of security. 1 second after the fact is still after the fact. Does anybody seeing this actually saving lives? I don't. But they'll spin it that way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 10:15am

    There have been 64 counts of violent finger pointing and making pew sounds with mouth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 10:21am

    The biggest question here is, how does the system do anything to PREVENT the shooting? So the shot was detected, and the police made aware within 1 second. From that moment until the police arrive anything could happen. By this time, the shooting is all done and over with, we are left with a $100K debt in our hand and, on top of it all, the injuries/death left behind.

    Just one more to add to the statistic/database to justify ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 10:59am

    Let's see...

    10 school shootings since 2012, divided by

    ~99,000 schools * ~1051200 minutes in 2 years

    Why that's an incredible 9.6E-11 shots fired per minute per school. And that's assuming full coverage, which likely means a somewhat greater number of systems than number of schools...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 14 Nov 2014 @ 11:35am

    Firecrackers...

    I think we're in for an era where they're super useful.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 12:51pm

    One of the selling points of the Guardian, from Shooter Detection Systems, pretty much says it all:

    Guardian removes the “human factor” so that nothing is left to interpretation and costly delays can be avoided.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2014 @ 12:52pm

      Re:

      Zero tolerance, zero responsibility, and zero accountability when things go horribly wrong.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 14 Nov 2014 @ 2:11pm

        The Cover-Your-Own-Ass Society

        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry.
        Better safe than sorry....

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 14 Nov 2014 @ 8:22pm

    Dirt cheap alternative:

    Fire extinguishers.

    Someone put together a rather long post about how simply equipping each classroom with fire extinguishers would make for an excellent, relatively cheap anti-shooter system.

    Think about it, someone busts into a classroom with a gun, you hose them down with one of those, they're going to be blinded, they're going to be choking, but what they aren't going to be is able to aim, or even likely fire at all, giving the teacher or someone else time to clock the would-be gunman over the head with the canister, or incapacitate them in another fashion.

    Best of all, they'd serve double-duty in case a fire broke out(which is much more likely to happen than someone shooting up a classroom), so even if they were never used to stop a gunman, they'd still serve an important purpose.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2014 @ 6:29am

    You mean, installing fear

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 17 Nov 2014 @ 10:23am

    Reaction time?

    Okay, so the police are notified within a second or two of the shooting.
    How does this system reduce the police reaction time? Even assuming the SWAT team is sitting around, fully prepared, to jump into action, it will still take them 5 or 10 (or 15 or 20) minutes to get to the school.
    Or does this system come with a Star Trek style transporter to get the SWAT team to the school instantly? If so, we should give them a Nobel Award in Physics for making such a device.

    But how come no one in any step in the process thought about the police reaction time?
    Or do we have to wait for the inevitable story in 5 or 10 years where a shooter kills 20 people even though this system worked normally and alerted the police "within a second", but the police weren't prepared and didn't show up until an hour later?

    Then again, what are the chances of a school shooting in that county? What are the chances of a school shooting in a school with this system?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Leopold, 31 May 2016 @ 9:10am

    Not that outrageous . . .

    How often is there a fire at a school? They are quite rare. And yet we have fire alarms and sprinkler systems. Should we get rid of those due to irrational fear?

    And with respect to response time: You'd be amazed at how long it takes people to decide that the loud noise they heard really was the report of a firearm. It never happens, so people are not prepared when it does. They stick their head out the door to "see what that noise was". If there is a single report (as opposed to multiple reports), its possible someone assumes it was something that fell.

    Then when someone DOES call on a cell phone, they are all panicked. The dispatcher often has to work very hard trying to extract vital information such as what happened, where it happened, etc. This system can inform the PD: shot fired, Baker School, 1 Main St., cafeteria. That's a lot of information to try to extract from a panicked caller. They may have heard a shot, but not know it was the cafeteria. I realize situations are fluid, but sometimes not. If there was a gunshot in the cafeteria, that's probably the first place the PD should go. Someone might be injured and that's the first place you should look.

    I am concerned about false positives though. If we have 10 school shootings per year, but this system reports 1000 false positives per year if installed nationwide, it would be doing more harm than good.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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