Parents divided over weapon detectors in Salt Lake City high schools

Aug 21, 2023, 6:42 PM | Updated: Aug 22, 2023, 6:04 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Back to school will be slightly different for Salt Lake City high schools as a new anti-gun violence security measure will be implemented.

Beginning in Fall, students will have to walk through weapon detectors before heading to class, but some families are divided about the security measure.

“The person at Uvalde got in through a back door that was not locked,” said David Casteel, a parent.

Casteel said the frequent school shootings in the country and reports of weapons on campuses closer to home worry parents like him.

“Like any other parent, I’m terrified, you know? I love my kids, and I don’t want them to get hurt,” he said.

He doesn’t think the new weapon detectors will solve the problem.

“A lot of the studies have shown that for the cost of them and the hassle for students and the propensity for maybe even minority students to get hassled more than usual, that they’re not actually keeping kids safe,” Casteel said.

The Salt Lake City School District approved the new system in January. Private security guards will install and run the weapon detectors.

The new weapon detectors used by Salt Lake City School District (Scott G. Winterton/ Deseret News)

“I love it. As a parent who has two kids at West High, I think this is great to just try it out,” said Amei Owen.

But, Casteel said he would rather see the school district take other approaches like training and preventing the issue before it happens.

“I think there’s a lot of things we could spend our money on that would be a lot more useful. Maybe that’s spending it on teachers getting training on mental health and detecting issues before they happen,” Casteel said.

He worries about how long it will take to get all the students through the detectors. But Owen believes it’s worth that extra time to make sure her kids are safe.

“Hey, if it takes five extra minutes, but they can have peace of mind throughout the day, I think it’s totally worth it,” Owen said.

And they both agree that it’s unfortunate the district had to consider this measure.

“I want everybody’s kid to have a good education,” Casteel said.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to have metal detectors at schools, it shouldn’t be that way because students should feel safe,” Owen added.

The SLC SD told KSL TV that families will receive an email on when detectors will be installed.

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Parents divided over weapon detectors in Salt Lake City high schools