A Navy SEAL who grew up in Morristown is now finding another mission in life after leaving the military a year ago: Trying to save children’s lives.
Caleb Jones, who leads contracting for ZeroEyes, is trying to bring new technology to area school systems that will detect immediately when and if a firearm is present in a school.
He said it’s a mission that is important to him as more and more schools across the country face the fear of mass shootings.
“It’s hard to be in an environment to focus and learn when you’re scared,” he said.
Jones, who now lives in Seattle, grew up in the Lakeway Area and knows the area well. He was born in Knoxville, but at an early age his family relocated to Harrogate in Claiborne County. From there, they came to Morristown to live, graduating from Morristown East.
He left the Lakeway Area to attend Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky and he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology.
But, he said he felt there was more to life for him and he needed direction. That direction came when one day he was talking to his brother, who was in the Army and deployed to Iraq, he said.
He said it came to him to join the military.
In 2008, he joined the Navy and became a SEAL. Jones said he’s been deployed across the world and in the Middle East several times, but couldn’t disclose the nature of the deployments due to it being classified information.
He left the service last year and found himself teaming up with ZeroEyes.
Jones said the team had some ideas for use of artificial intelligence, but did not know how exactly to utilize it. Then it came to them.
“It became apparent,” he said. “It was in front of our face.”
The technology was there to develop a system in video cameras that could recognize if a firearm is present in a building.
With all of the school shootings that have occurred over the last two decades, he said the team found its calling.
“We shifted all of our focus to solving that problem,” he said.
The technology is being instituted currently at a school in New Jersey and the hope is to get it into more schools nationwide.
“For those of us who served in the military, being veterans means we take protecting people very seriously too,” the company states on its website. “Equally important, is empowering safety and security professionals. Security cameras are prevalent in many public spaces. However, there are often too many feeds for people to monitor also. Likewise, most facilities can’t have human beings monitor all of their cameras.
“As a result, we use Artificial Intelligence to actively monitor camera feeds to detect weapons. In fact, our technology can decrease response time which could save lives. The veterans on this team recognize the need for increased safety in civilian life. Finally, we know it’s our duty to provide whatever we can to the public to increase a general feeling of safety.”
It is a sophisticated system that can recognize some ordinary objects that would be found in a school, such as a broom.
But, if something looks like a gun, it will immediately alert authorities.
The system has been tested and works well, he said.
Jones said he has spoken to several school systems in East Tennessee and hopes it will soon start being installed into schools in the area.
He said he does know that school systems have tight budgets, so they are trying to work with every system to make it fit within their budget.
“We’re trying to make this as cheap as possible,” he said.
He said there’s more than making money on their product. For him, it’s a calling.
“The mission here is more important than anything else,” he said.