Multiple Salt Lake City high schools are set to introduce AI-based detectors to scan for weapons and heavy metal at their entry points.
The detectors were installed Tuesday at East High School, West High School and Highland High School. The Horizonte Instruction and Training Center will have them placed later this season.
East and Highland have three detectors at each entrance while West High has four.
The district says two private security staff are stationed at each sensor and all four schools have a roving security officer.
Staff plan to explain the process and answer any student questions before the detectors turned on October 23.
AI-based metal detectors have been installed in four schools in Salt Lake City
The detectors were installed yesterday at the East High School, West High School and Highland High School
Students must simply walk through the detectors without taking off their bags, coats or shoes
If a student is found to have a weapon on them, the school will follow standard district policy
According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, students must simply walk through the detectors without taking off their bags, coats or shoes.
Lincoln Perez, a senior at West High School told KSLTV: ‘It kind of looks like a Walmart one, and it scans for heavy metal, and you just go through it.’
Neil Sandhoff, Vice President of Evolv, the company setting up the AI said that multiple people can pass through the machines together. If a student is flagged, they will be brought aside for a security check.
‘The trusted adults in the building will take a closer look in their bag to make sure they aren’t bringing something to school that clearly doesn’t belong in a school.’
He clarified that objects such as laptops do not work well with the system and must be taken around the detectors.
Yándary Chatwin, the Salt Lake City School District spokesperson, said: ‘This is just another tool in our school safety arsenal. It’s not the end-all be-all, but it’s just another way that we can help prevent things from happening in our schools.’
If a student is found to have a weapon on them, the school will follow standard district policy, Chatwin stated.
District policy states that a student found with a weapon could face a suspension or expulsion and be referred to the district for a ‘safe school hearing’.
A study done by researchers at Iowa State University showed that an average of six mass shootings would occur in a year across the US, with a 95 percent chance that between two and 12 would occur. In a school, the chances of a mass shooting are approximately 0.08 percent.
Lincoln Perez, a senior at West High School said: ‘ It kind of looks like a Walmart one, and it scans for heavy metal, and you just go through it’
Objects such as laptops do not work well with the system and must be taken around the detectors
East and Highland have three detectors at each entrance and West High has four. The district says two private security staff are stationed at each sensor and all four schools have a roving security officer
In January this year, school board members approved a $1.44 million expenditure to lease the devices for four years for West, East and Highland Highs from Stone Security LLC.
The decision to do so was met with divided opinions. While Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Grant stated that she wanted to’ use every tool available to keep schools safe’, board members Ashley Andersen and Mohamed Baayd argued otherwise.
Anderson claimed data showed that hardening measures offer zero protection against school violence.
Baayd highlighted: ‘I’m thinking about the minority kids who came from refugee world, from places of war and then they have to walk through this. And then if it beeps, it’s a nightmare.’
Ultimately, the board meeting ended in a 5-to-2 vote to move forward. Schools will have the detectors turned on from 8am to 4pm and are allowed to turn them on after school hours for events.
Three students were arrested in June for charges relating to bringing loaded handguns inside Highland High School.
According to the Salt Lake City police department, two of the schools’ students entered the school and tried to exit quickly but were detained by the school resource officer after a short struggle.
The third student, who was from East High School, was later found after a short search and arrested. He was not found with any firearms.
Police said the two students with guns were arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Juvenile Detention Center, while the third was released to a legal guardian.