Seven Charlotte-Mecklenburg high schools will soon install body scanning equipment to screen students for guns and weapons.
Eventually, officials say, all CMS high schools will have the screening equipment, which is already in use at at least two South Carolina schools and is in use at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
A description of the company CMS buys the body scanners from says the equipment is faster than a traditional metal detector, doesn’t require users to empty their pockets or bags and has the technology to send an alarm visual to the authorities in case of suspicious or dangerous object. is detected.
At four of the seven schools receiving the new equipment first, those campuses saw two or more firearms starting in August, part of a record number of firearms reported in the district this school year. Six other schools, three of which do not yet have full-body scanners — Myers Park, South Meck and West Meck — each had a firearm reported on campus last semester.
The new equipment will be placed in the following schools:
▪ Mallard Creek Elevated
▪ Garinger high
▪ Harding University
▪ West Charlotte High
▪ North Upper Mecklenburg
▪ Julius Chambers High School
▪ Hopewell High
Superintendent Earnest Winston told council members Tuesday that the district has finalized the contract for the body scanners and officials are waiting for the paperwork to be signed. He said the scanners are expected to be delivered within 30 days and will be rolled out in phases.
Weapon detectors in schools
Patrick Smith, the district’s assistant superintendent of communications, said Wednesday that the body scanner CMS will use “isn’t a metal detector or a wand.” That’s exactly the system used at Bank of America Stadium, he said.
“Walk through and the scanner detects weapons and other suspicious objects,” Smith said, and added, “We will communicate scanner details and provide information to families, students and staff as the situation unfolds. equipment will arrive, be installed and before implementation.”
The district is working with Evolv Technology for body scanners, a CMS official confirmed Wednesday. Evolv Technology has “contactless security screening that provides security without sacrificing visitor experience,” according to its website.
To evolve officials say their technology is not a metal detector.
“Unlike traditional metal detectors, Evolv Express uses advanced sensor technology and artificial intelligence to screen guests as they walk through at a natural pace – without stopping and without handing over their belongings,” said Fitzgerald Barth. , Director of Corporate Communications at Evolv. “Express offers a dual-path, free-flow system proven to operate up to ten times faster than traditional metal detectors, alerting operators to the presence of weapons while ignoring personal items harmless such as cell phones, keys and coins.”
Barth said that when a potential threat is detected by the system, real-time image-assisted alarms show guards where the potential threat is on a person or in their bag. There is a minimum of physical contact and allows school staff to act quickly and efficiently.
Clear backpacks at CMS
While waiting for body scanners, CMS conducted 60 random security checks at middle and high schools this school year. Winston said no firearms were found during those screenings, but vapes, tasers, pepper spray and over-the-counter prescription drugs were found.
Also this week, the district announced that students at Hopewell High School and Cochrane Collegiate Academy will be the first to try see-through backpacks.
The see-through backpacks are part of a layered approach Winston is implementing in response to security concerns on CMS campuses. Eddie Perez, media relations specialist for CMS, told the Observer on Wednesday that 25 guns have been found on campuses this school year. Other district high schools will also receive the backpacks, and wider implementation is expected later in the spring.
“We met with high school students and one of the comments we got was that students (want) to actually touch and feel and see what transparent backpacks look like,” Winston told a meeting of the board on Tuesday.
In December, the district purchased 46,000 see-through backpacks for a total of $441,791.
Tips and security personnel
In January, CMS began training on the “Say Something” anonymous reporting system for students in grades 6-12. It was rolled out to every middle school, high school, and K-8 in the district. The program is designed to help prevent violence in schools, homes and communities by educating students and adults on how to recognize the warning signs and act immediately by telling a trusted adult or submitting an anonymous report.
Winston said officials have received 500 middle and high school student tips so far through the app.
The district also began hiring 53 campus security associates.