Efforts to combat school shootings are shifting from preventing the violence to reducing the number of victims through technology that speeds up law enforcement response and quickly alerts teachers and students to danger, the Associated Press reports. School districts are using products like gunshot detection systems that identify where shots are fired and apps that allow teachers to report attacks and connect with police. Technology can be a less partisan solution than gun control that is quick to implement. Some experts say funding preventive mental health resources should be the priority.
The tech approach comes amid rising concern over the inability to prevent shootings like the one last week at a suburban Denver high school. Student Kendrick Castillo, 18, who was killed after charging one of the gunmen, was honored at a memorial service Wednesday. “If I’m intent on shooting people at a school, there are 20 ways to do it,” said Erik Endress of Share911, a New Jersey-based company with an app that allows staff to report everything from medical conditions to active shooters. “We can improve the outcome of these situations,” Endress said. “We can minimize the casualty count.” A billion-dollar industry is manufacturing products from “ballistic attack-resistant” doors to smoke cannons. The hardening market, as well as lobbying efforts to get taxpayer dollars to fund upgrades, had stalled in recent years but rekindled after the Parkland, Fl., shooting. “We’ve kind of reached this state of frustration where we (feel like we) can’t protect our students,” said Dennis Kenney of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “What we’re trying to do is find some technological fix, and there isn’t one.” School districts nationwide are recognizing that and adopting an approach that combines technology with mental health programs, bullying prevention and security officers.