SCHOOL PATROL: Marion County tests new gun detection system for schools
Marion County is gearing up to pilot a new security system that can detect guns and send out alerts to officers and staff.
Mayor David Jackson says the county commission recently approved a bid with security company Zero Eyes, which created the system.
"Our young kids, they can't defend themselves,” he said. “So if we can stop somebody from getting into a school with a weapon, we're going to do that."
Jackson says he was impressed with the system when he watched a demonstration.
"They had weapons there and drew the weapons out and walked in front of the camera and you can clearly see the rifle or pistol in their hands,” he said.
The system can't detect concealed weapons, only guns that are drawn. But Superintendent Mark Griffith says the alerts would still help schools stop tragedies before they happen.
"The technology will detect guns outside the building,” Griffith said. “And one of the things was, if we can stop it outside the building that would be huge."
The school system is splitting the cost of the pilot program with the county. It will cost about $18,000 to test in just one school. But if it works, the plan is to roll it out in all nine schools in the district.
"We certainly don't want anything to happen,” Griffith said. “So $18,000 is just a drop in the bucket."
Mayor Jackson says the goal with projects like this is always safety.
"We want those students to feel safe, and hopefully this will make them feel safer. And hopefully makes the parents feel safe,” he said.
The district hasn’t decided where to test run the system yet. Griffith says it will likely be whichever school’s current security system is the simplest to upgrade.