DRACUT — Dracut public schools are in the final stages of implementing gunshot detection devices in all schools, Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone said.
“School safety has been the number one agenda item,” Stone said over the phone. The devices, he explained, are part of a larger school safety upgrade the town approved last year. “It’s a proactive measure,” he added.
The devices will be mounted on walls and ceilings throughout each public school, and can alert police immediately to the sound of a gunshot. Stone said the devices will be fully functioning soon, but declined to give a specific time frame, expressing safety concerns.
The idea, Stone said, is to provide police with critical information as quickly as possible in the event of an emergency.
There have been 310 mass shootings in the United States this year, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. The data collection group defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more people were shot or killed, not including the shooter.
“I think it’s just another tool to help us respond to anything that’s dangerous,” Dracut Police Chief Peter Bartlett said.
The technology can differentiate between the sound of gunfire and other loud noises, like a slamming door or a dropped book, Bartlett explained. And if a gun is fired, the devices pinpoint the exact location of the shot and notify police.
“I just think it’s important to be proactive, especially when it comes to schools and safety,” Bartlett said.
Mental health counselors and more school officers have also been added to Dracut public schools in recent years, according to Stone.
“Year after year, we have enhanced our security both on the human side and the infrastructure side,” Stone said.
Parents dropping their kids off at Joseph A. Campbell Elementary School Tuesday morning expressed approval of the new devices.
“I think it (adding gunshot detection devices) is actually a great idea,” Dracut resident Stephanie Gagnon said Tuesday after she brought her kid to kindergarten. “You have to actually worry about guns being near schools,” she said.
Michael Lane, of Dracut, said he also worries about gun violence in schools. “I think everybody should (be concerned),” he said, holding his son, Dalton, who attends preschool at the elementary school. Lane said he supports of the addition of gunshot detection devices.
Katie Arcand, of Dracut, also has a son in preschool. “It’s really scary to talk about,” she said of gun violence. “It definitely worries me as a parent.”
“They (school officials) definitely need to do something,” Arcand said. “We definitely need some sort of security.”