SLC schools begin ‘soft launch’ of metal detector

Oct 17, 2023, 5:49 PM | Updated: 6:18 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Students and staff at four schools in the Salt Lake City School District were welcomed back from fall break with new weapons detectors and security officers.

As part of a four-year pilot program to address growing security concerns on school campuses the weapons detectors were installed at East High School, West High School, Highland High School and Horizonte Instruction and Training Center, the district’s alternative high school.

“I’m glad that they have them, for more protection for the kids,” JoAnn Black said as she was picking up her grandchild from East High Tuesday. “They’ve had a lot of lockdowns over the years and so I think it’s great for the protection of the kids and teachers.”

The weapons detectors in the Salt Lake City School District are not your traditional metal detectors, the company Evolv uses AI to scan for weapons.

“It kind of looks like a Walmart one, and it scans for heavy metal, and you just go through it,” Lincoln Perez, a senior at West High School, said.

Students at West High School Tuesday said the process of walking through the new weapons detectors was surprisingly simple and fast, despite students being funneled into specific doors.

“It’s very simple, it’s not like a TSA checking, they’re not like take off your bag take off this, it’s very simple and really easy,” Soe Koko, a senior at West High School, said.

What students at the schools may not have known is the weapons detectors were not actually turned on Tuesday. The district had a “soft launch” to get the students familiar with using them and seeing the added security staff. The weapons detectors will be turned on next Monday.

“I knew they would be there today, and it was honestly kind of casual and we walked through and felt safe about it,” Sean Lampropoulous, a junior at East High School said.

At each school, the number of weapons detectors varies. East and Highland have them at three entrances, West High has them at four. The district says two private security staff are also stationed at each detector, and each school has a roving security officer.

“The weapons detectors allow for quick, efficient flow of traffic,” Yándary Chatwin, the district’s spokesperson said. “We do not anticipate long back-ups like with the metal detectors at airport security, where people need to remove many items from their bags, pockets, etc.”

The district says no students will be targeted and the only reason a student would be stopped by security staff is if the machine beeps.

“If a weapon is found through a weapon detector, we would implement the same protocol that we implement now,” Chatwin said. “School administration would handle this; the presence of the weapons detectors will not impact existing protocol.”

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SLC schools begin ‘soft launch’ of metal detector