Council Approves Shooter Detection Systems for Abilene Airport

The Abilene City Council approved the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System for Abilene Regional Airport at a 10 percent match for the total price of the project, thanks to funding through a Federal Aviation Administration grant. Guardian sensors detect and identify the sound and muzzle flash signature of a gunshot and automatically notifies airport staff and emergency responders. The Guardian gunshot detection system uses both sound and muzzle flash sensors to greatly reduce false alarms. “If somebody drops a bag or something onto the floor and makes a very loud sound, it can distinguish those (types of incidents),” said Don Green, director of transportation services.

Green became interested in it after an airport shooting in Fort Lauderdale in January 2017, during which five people died and six were injured.

The technology was developed around the time of the Gulf War and is in Green’s estimation well-proven. Both other airports and certain businesses have made use of it, and it should give “a bit of an edge” in the case of an actual shooting event, he said.

 “Of course, you never know the need until you actually need it,” Green said. “But I think this is a good system to have. It provides a little bit of extra confirmation that something is happening in the terminal and gives you at least a few seconds at least head-start in response.”

Green said the Abilene Police Department and the city marshal’s office “have a presence throughout the day at the terminal,” and are armed. TSA and Airport personnel do not carry firearms.

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This story was originally published in the Abilene Reporter-News by reporter Brian Bethel on January 10, 2019.