School shootings have shaken our country in recent years. Sandy Hook, Arapahoe High School, Virginia Tech Columbine and Parkland are horrific examples of tragedies involving weapon-toting perpetrators. The armed offenders were either students at the school or visitors who forced entry into the building.
Regardless of the cause, the need for security detection devices in schools and public places is becoming evident! We’ve been slogging through metal detectors at airport security checkpoints for years and subjecting ourselves to similar screenings and searches at concerts and sporting events.The most obvious benefit of placing metal detectors at school entrances is the immediate detection of weapons on students and visitors as they enter the building. Case in point: in schools currently using detectors, students and guests have been stopped with guns, knives and other weapons. Detection of a weapon on a student or guest is a proactive step that public facilities can take to prevent a tragic incident from happening. Furthermore, an investigation may lead to an arrest or treatment to prevent future occurrences.
But the use of metal detectors in schools has been limited mostly to large, urban districts with established records of weapons-related violence. New York City’s Education Department, for example, installed its first metal detectors in 1988 and currently runs screenings in more than 90 buildings.
A stationary metal detector can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $30,000. Models in the $4,000 to $5,000 range typically offer features best suited for a school environment, according to a report from the National Institute of Justice.
But the initial equipment costs only tell part of the story. You also need to think about operational and maintenance costs:
Hiring security personnel to operate the metal detectors
Providing ongoing training for security personnel and other staff
Equipment maintenance and repairs
Replacing outdated equipment
Metal detection systems can certainly serve as a risk-reduction tool, but the most effective school safety programs need to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to prevent people from entering the school and either storing or using weapons during non-screening hours.
Having metal detectors in schools won’t stop people like Adam Lanza. However, they will stop random students who are trying to bring a weapon to school. If every student has to pass through hem, it will cut down on weapons violence in our worst schools, and will keep our students and teachers safer.
Should schools have metal detectors?