Reducing response times: New active shooter technology to be beta tested in Lawrence Township schools

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The City of Lawrence, the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township and Bodyworn by Utility, Inc. recently announced a collaboration to employ Bodyworn by Utility’s Active Shooter Response Technology in Lawrence Township schools.

MSDLT is the first school system in the nation to install the technology. ASRT detects gunshots in real-time detection of gunshots, thereby reducing response time during active-shooter situations.

ASRT sensors distinguishes gunshots from other loud noises.

Lawrence Mayor Steve Collier said the collaboration came about after the Lawrence Police Dept. officers began using Bodyworn’s body cameras. Bodyworn displays camera footage in the cloud, which reduces storage cost and keeps camera expenses low, Collier said.

Bodyworn by Utility CEO Ted Davis displays the active shooter technology.

“They brought the technology to the City of Lawrence, and we sat through a pretty impressive presentation and quickly made the decision to bring Bodyworn cameras to our police department,” Collier said. “We then became the poster child, so to speak, and they are now the No. 2 body camera provider to police departments across the nation.”

After its succesful body camera launch, Bodyworn began to study how to reduce response times for active shooters in school systems.

“One of the problems was an active-shooter response average is about 18 minutes, which is incredibly slow,” Collier said. “The reason for that is, the shooter would go in and fire a gun and everybody in the building begins to try to get ahold of 911 dispatch. There isn’t a clear path about where the shooter is at. This technology actually hears the gunshot through an ultrasonic wave, a sound we can’t hear, and it has a very short burst, and within 100 percent accuracy, this technology can detect when a gunshot has gone off. Not only that, but also where the shot was fired.”

Bodyworn by Utility CEO Ted Davis said gunshot detection has been problematic for 27 years.

“(Gunshot detection) technology has a lot of false-positives, and you can’t have a system if there are false-positives. It’s worthless,” he said. “We are trying to solve the problem of a shooting in the school by providing a response time that’s not 18 minutes, but it’s within two or three or four minutes. This gets installed in hallways and classrooms.”

ASRT technology plugs into an outlet and has a 100-yard range. When a gunshot is detected, an alert is to every classroom that is equipped with ASRT technology. Because all LPD officers use Bodyworn cameras, they are alerted, too. If a gun fires, nearest police officers, command staff, school administrators and other designated personneleceive immediate notification and are alerted to the exact location.

ASRT also can provide information on weapon type and whether the shooter is mobile, among other instant data.

MSDLT Supt. Shawn Smith said student safety is the top priority.

“It is certainly an honor to be a part of something that is going to be innovative and certainly protect our children and our community at the highest level,” Smith said.

For more, visit bodyworn.com.

From left, Bodyworn by Utility CEO Ted Davis, MSDLT Supt. Shawn Smith, Lawrence Mayor Steve Collier and Lawrence Police Chief David Hofmann.

Installing the technology

ASRT will be beta tested at Lawrence Central and Lawrence North high schools beginning next month and will likely be installed in all district schools after the first quarter of 2020.

The City of Lawrence is providing the techology at no cost to the schools.

“The city is a fortunate provider of the technology through the schools, and it’s Bodyworn’s way of saying thanks for taking a risk on them,” Collier said.

Schools do have to ensure school resource officers have a Bodyworn body camera if they are not LPD employees. The vest technology is $400 to $500.

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