SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Efforts at a local college are underway to make its campus a little safer from gun violence.

BridgeValley Community and Technical College is receiving a $400,000 Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) award to implement a Gunshot Detection System.

The CDS request was submitted by U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin in their efforts to enhance community safety measures.

BridgeValley CTC President Casey Sacks said the allocation underscores the significance of making investments in technology that prioritizes the safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff.

Casey Sacks

“It’s one of those things that you hope to never have to use, but our Chief of Police alerted us even to the existence of the technology,” Sacks said. “Once we learned that the technology existed, we thought let’s see if we can get that on campus.”

Sacks said the system has the ability to detect in real-time precisely where a firearm was fired off and can immediately notify first responders of its location.

She said it will enable quick responses from law enforcement and fire departments through its strategically-positioned sensors and expansive notification platform, which she said will be much faster than calling 911 and having to describe the situation and its precise location.

Sacks said that even before their efforts to acquire the detection system on campus, however, safety has always been a main focus at BridgeValley, as they collaborate often with first responders to hold disaster-response training events.

“We’ve been really proud of the work that we’ve done with first responders, but we’ve been incredibly proactive, BridgeValley holds annual disaster events where we do drills,” she said. “Two years ago, we did an active shooter drill, last year the drill that we did was around a helicopter crash.”

She said they plan to conduct another drill in the fall. An exact scenario for it, however, Sacks said is to still be determined.

Sacks said while it’s all hypothetical scenarios they train for now, it’s preparation for if such emergencies were to actually happen on the BridgeValley campus, as she said, you can never be too cautious.

“The idea around these drills is to help us better work with first responders to think, like, what would happen if something like this were to happen in our community, and so we’re just trying to be as proactive as possible,” Sacks said.

She said the detection system will just be another instrument in place that will optimize continued safety standards on campus, but Sacks said the system is not quite in place just yet.

After just receiving word from Capito and Manchin that the funding for the detection system has been acquired, Sacks said they will now have the Department of Justice give them what amounts to a grant award agreement.

She said they will go through the grant award agreement process and then they will go out to bid in determining which company will install the system.

Sacks said with the implementation of the system, they hope to be a model for other colleges and K-12 institutions around the area, and let them know that there’s a lot that can be done to leverage technology to the schools’ safety advances.

“We’d all love to have more police officers, for example, but our budgets don’t always allow that to be possible, so anything we can do to help our agencies work together, we really love our partnership we have with the South Charleston Police and the Montgomery Police on our campuses,” Sacks said.