Illinois school district looks at new technology to stop potential shooters in their tracks

Published: Aug. 16, 2018 at 6:15 PM CDT
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The Orion, Ill. school district is investing in new technology to keep all three of its schools safe.

"We are weighing our possibilities to keep our kids as safe as possible and it is unfortunate we have to have those discussions," superintendent Joe Blessman said.

The device being considered is called Crotega. It works when a gunshot is detected. Once that detection is made, it alerts a person in a control area to verify the threat and then the control center can activate the device. Once activated, the device releases a waterbased solution that irritates the skin, lungs, and throat.

"It is worse in my eyes," Blessman said after experiencing the solution during a simulation at the high school last month.

The device can be installed in any part of the school in different zones. It allows the control center to take down the gunman in an isolated area. The device was created by Jody Allen Crowe, a former school administrator.

"We put fire sprinklers inside buildings to stop a fire as soon as possible," Crowe said. "Using that same thought, can we put things inside a building to cause a distribution to someone looking to cause harm?"

The district is in its early stages of discussion over the installation. If approved, it would be installed in all three district buildings. The cost is likely to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Crowe says it is about the cost of a school resource officer for five years and then it pays for itself.

"They have a permanent installation that will last the life of their building," Crowe said.

"We can what if every scenario to death but we are at the stage where doing nothing is not acceptable," Blessman said.

Blessman says anyone in a zone where the device is activated could be sprayed with the solution, but both Blessman and Crowe say the risk of being hit with the solution outweighs the risk of being shot and it can be rinsed out of the eyes and off the skin easily.

Currently, no school in the country has the device installed. Crotega says it is talking with several districts nationwide about possible installation.