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Rio Rancho Public Schools want to add gunshot alert systems

This promotional photo from ShotSpotter shows an officer using the system to detect where a gunshot was just detected by the company’s electronic gear. (Courtesy of ShotSpotter)

RIO RANCHO – The Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education re-numbered its list of capital outlay priorities for the upcoming state Legislature, including $1.5 million for gunshot detection in all 10 elementaries and the district’s four middle schools.

Chief Operating Officer Mike Baker told the Observer funding is already in place to install the systems at Cleveland and Rio Rancho high schools, hopefully before the start of the 2019-20 school year.

Baker said the system immediately identifies the location of a gunshot, the caliber of the weapon and type of ammunition, which is then fed not only to school security officers, but also to the Rio Rancho Police Department.

One gunshot detection manufacturer, California-based ShotSpotter, has its system deployed by police in 100 cities and it’s being used outdoors by 10 college campuses.

Superintendent Sue Cleveland told board members, who weren’t sure they had heard a discussion in the past about the costly gunshot detection system, she couldn’t imagine any opposition.

“I know this is being incorporated in a lot of schools across the country,” she said, before the board agreed to re-rank its nine capital outlay priorities thusly:

  • Security modifications (forced entry and fencing) for Vista Grande Elementary ($175,000).
  • Security cameras at every elementary school ($200,000).
  • Gunshot detection at all the elementary schools ($1 million).
  • Gunshot detection at the middle schools ($500,000).
  • 215 linear feet of fencing and gate replacement at Cleveland High School ($150,000).
  • Sensored LED retrofit for parking lot lights at the district offices ($25,000).
  • Facility management system for Independence High School and Cyber Academy ($300,000).
  • Inclusive playground equipment for every elementary school ($500,000).
  • Improvements for Rio Rancho High School drainage ($265,000).

Cleveland was skeptical about the district’s chances of seeing its entire “wish list” fulfilled, although she recalled the district received about $378,000 for security requests last year and, “In real good years, we’ve got up to a million.”

The board decided to hold a special meeting to discuss its priorities, especially to hear more about the gunshot detection system.