Students push for gunfire detection systems in Virginia Beach schools

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — After the deadly school shooting in Florida and 22 threats against Virginia Beach schools, students want the district to implement technology that detects gunfire and immediately notifies first responders of an active shooter.

10 On Your Side first reported on Shooter Detection Systems in 2015. Since then, Virginia Beach-based Axis Global Enterprises has installed the systems in two private schools and four businesses.

Ian Lichacz, senior class president at Cox High School, is leading the effort to get the high-tech systems in all 86 schools.

“I think America has reached a point where we’re saying enough is enough,” Lichacz said. “The students want to take action … the students’ voice is starting to arise and kids are thinking for once: I can make a change.”

The product has two sensors: one that hears the gunshot and another that sees the flash.

Within one second of the sensor detecting gunfire, police, fire and EMS are notified and a red dot indicating the shooter’s location appears on a map that can be seen by any system administrator.

Ross Vierra, CEO of Axis Global Enterprises, says the system is able to send the shooter’s location to students and teachers through email and text messages and updates with every new shot fired.

“We need to start taking an active approach and not pretend that it may go away,” said Vierra. “It’s just a matter of when and where, not if.”

Vierra says the cost varies depending on the number of sensors needed in a particular school or office space. He says a sensor, which can range from $1,200-$1,800, needs to be installed every 80 feet. It would take about 50 sensors to outfit a school, he says.

“What’s the cost at this point? We’re talking about our children’s lives and safety. We build a school for $60 million. It’s peanuts compared to the overall project,” said Vierra.

Virginia Beach City Public Schools say they are always reviewing security plans and practices. A spokeswoman tells WAVY.com the district is aware of the technology but administration has not had serious discussions about implementing gunfire detection systems.

Earlier this month, the school board decided to allocate $282,000 to install buzzer systems in all schools. Six schools already have buzzer systems in place that require a security officer to let each visitor into the building.

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