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Carter County pilots new school safety technologies

(WCYB/Caleb Perhne)

The Carter County Sheriff's Department is debuting the first in a series of new technologies aimed at improving school safety.

More than 2,600 officers were assaulted with a firearm in 2017, according to FBI statistics. Lt. Mike Fraley thought it would never happen to him, until it did.

"The first one felt like a poker going through my arm,” Fraley said. “The second felt like I got hit in the chest with a sledge hammer."

The sheriff’s office has introduced automatic injury detection panels that call, text and email 911 when it detects a puncture. That text could save an officers' life if they're in Fraley’s situation.

"It was hard being shot through the lung even forming a word to call for help,” he said.

The panels are just the first in a series of changes for school safety.

Sheriff Dexter Lunceford partnered with Sprint. They're piloting a cell phone app that connects teachers directly with police radio during an emergency. The location of every teacher, SRO and bus will be mapped through the system.

"Right now, we don't know where the teachers are,” Lunceford said. “We don't know where the students are. In the event of something happening, we don't know where the SROs are. We have to communicate that."

Another technology will use facial recognition to alert SROs when an unknown person is at school before they even enter the building.

"I think it's a great opportunity for Carter County, for our system, for our students,” Carter County Schools Secondary Supervisor Danny McClain said.

Tests will continue before a full launch in the coming months.

Lunceford said since this is a pilot program, the technology is being provided at little cost to the county.

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