McKinley High School to test 'blue box' security system

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A public school in East Baton Rouge Parish will be the first in the area to have new technology on its campus aimed at helping police zero in on suspected shooters. It's already being used in more than 100 schools across the country.

A fire alarm was reportedly pulled before gunfire erupted through the halls of a high school in south Florida this week. Investigators say in just seven minutes, the suspected shooter, a former student, killed 17 people. Fourteen others were wounded. Co-owner of local security company, Open Eyes Training Technology and Consulting, Kelly LeDuff, says when seconds count, information is everything.

"It takes so long to dial 911 because people think someone else has already called, not to mention you are fighting for your life," LeDuff said.

LeDuff partnered with a company out of Chicago following the Sandy Hook school shooting to come up with a device that helps teachers and students communicate directly with law enforcement without having to say a thing. It's activated by simply pulling the lever on a blue box. It's similar to a fire alarm, only this one goes straight to school administrators and police.

"It lets them know that this device was pulled, gives them a link to see all the cameras, and they are also able to communicate two-way with police," LeDuff said.

Teachers and students are then able to pull up a map on their smart phones or desktop computers to see where the alarm was pulled and alert police of their exact location in the building if they need help. They can also share pictures and texts. Everyone connected to the control center sees them.

"Let's say I see a guy with a gun. Just like you do on your phone, I can take a picture, go back to my text message, and say it's student such and such," LeDuff said.

The pictures and common key words used in those text messages, like guy and gun for example, are sent to responding officers searching for a suspect. The number of boxes installed in the school depends on the size. But LeDuff said teachers don't need to be near one to alert police.

"We also have portable panic buttons that keep individuals, the principal can keep, and start the system anywhere," LeDuff said.

The technology can also be set up to let parents know their kids are safe and where they are. In situations when time is precious, LeDuff says the information gathered really counts. LeDuff says the blue boxes are scheduled to be installed at McKinley High School next week at no cost to the school system.

Several businesses in our area are already using it.

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