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Schools Are Spending Billions on High-Tech Defense for Mass Shootings


Reid Bauer was finishing lunch period last year at his middle school in the Atlanta area when an alarm began blaring through the halls, warning of an emergency. Reid, then in sixth grade, had never heard the school’s “code red” alert before.It was part of a new $5 million crisis management service that the Cobb County School District in Marietta, Ga., had purchased. District officials had promoted the system, called AlertPoint, as “state-of-the art technology” that could help save students’ lives in the event of a school shooting.That day, however, AlertPoint went haywire, sending false alarms to schools across one of the nation’s largest districts, causing lockdowns and frightening students.“Everybody was just really scared,” said Reid, now 13. Fearing for his life, he said, he turned off all the lights in his classroom and instructed his classmates to crouch along one wall, out of sight of the windows. “One kid actually tried calling 911,” he said.Schools have been struggling with how to hinder, and handle, mass shootings since 1999, when two gunmen armed with semiautomatic weapons killed 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. Trying to avert similar attacks has become a nerve-racking mission for tens of thousands of school leaders in the United States …

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