BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – Keeping students safe in school is a big issue. Now the Belen Consolidated School District is spending more than a million dollars to improve security for three of its schools. Soon Belen High School, La Merced, and Central elementary schools will be getting long overdue security upgrades.

“Events around the country have shown we need to get back to regular school safety. We’ll be putting brand new systems into place there. It’s just to put the focus back on overall student safety,” said Belen Consolidated School District Superintendent Lawrence Sanchez.

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Last month, a student at Belen High School was caught with a gun in his backpack, while the new technology will not help track a gun in a backpack. Sanchez says the technology will drastically reduce the time it takes to locate and track anyone who might have a weapon on school grounds.

It will be able to track them in real-time. “It will take a picture of your face and search the database that it has and find exactly where you went to, and I can see where you’re at and what you have been up to in that quick amount of time.”

Part of the $1.2 million upgrades will also include special smoke detection sensors inside Belen High School bathrooms. “I want to be clear we are not putting cameras in the bathrooms, but they will recognize smoke, whether it may be vapes, marijuana, cigarettes. It will recognize smoke and will send an alert to us and say someone is smoking in the bathroom,” said Sanchez.

The upgrades will also include controlled door locking access for both of the elementary schools, a technology already in place at Belen High. Superintendent Sanchez says supply chain shortages have put a delay on the security upgrades but says he hopes the new technology will be installed within the school year.