HARRISVILLE — A Utah company that develops and sells body armor unveiled new technology Friday aimed at improving the response times to school shootings and reducing the resulting casualties.
Advanced Armor Technology co-owner Mike Larson said the new sensor system can potentially connect to a school’s fire alarm and surveillance systems, and it either allows teachers to trigger a “panic button,” or it can “automatically detect” gunfire and pinpoint its location to within inches.
“We’ve added a decibel break onto the new unit so if a gunshot is detected, within a second, it goes off and lets people know there’s been a shot detected in the area,” Larson said.
Larson said the system alerts teachers, administrators and students which areas of the school to potentially avoid, while helping officers pinpoint the location of the active threat.
“As the shooting keeps moving, the loudest decibel reading will be the new map to where law enforcement knows where to go,” Larson said.
The concept, which can potentially detect the locations of multiple threats at once, utilizes similar sensors to those the company uses in its “smart armor” that it supplies to law enforcement agencies.
Larson said when a panel is pierced inside a vest, a sensor immediately activates the officer’s microphones and cameras and an alert is sent to other officers’ phones.
“Every officer in the department gets that message and an email or text with a GPS location within 6 inches of where that officer is down,” Larson explained. “We need to be able to get the officers to the incident as quickly as possible.”
Dispatch is also notified with information about the downed officer, including the officer’s known allergies to medication and blood type, he said.
Larson said the new technology is already drawing interest from schools in Florida, among other places.
Harrisville Police Chief Max Jackson, who was present Friday as company leaders were demonstrating their product, said he also believed it had the potential to make a difference.
“The way we’re progressing, I think that it’ll be a great help,” Jackson said.
Larson said the company’s ultimate goal was not simply to make money on the new systems.
“I want (shooters) to know we’re going to catch it,” Larson said. “We’re going to keep our kids safe in ways you don’t see.”