The Wichita Public Schools Board approved $1.5 million to be spent on weapon detectors that will screen everyone who walks through campus doors.
School security is a huge issue across the nation. Violence has increased throughout districts across the nation causing states and lawmakers to push for increased safety measures. From installing panic buttons to arming teachers, some states have made substantial changes and now one district in Kansas has approved an ample budget to install weapon detectors.
The Wichita Public Schools Board of Education has approved a $1.5 million budget to install 50 weapon detectors throughout the district’s high school campuses. They have decided to utilize the Opengate systems. These automatically screen everyone who walks through and can identify knives, firearms, and other large concealed objects.
The Company’s manufacturer states that these weapon detectors can see through backpacks, purses, and other personal effects in areas with high foot-traffic levels. Although the 2022-2023 school year has just begun, the district hopes to install these new systems for the spring semester. The rush to provide stricter security isn’t just based on national reports but recent incidents as well.
Within just the first two weeks of the new school year, five guns were discovered at area high schools. While no incidents have been reported this is raising serious concerns. Even some students have begun bringing guns to class in order to protect themselves and so weapon detectors are being brought in to hopefully deter students from doing so and stop them when they choose to arm themselves.
The guns found this school year were discovered at Wichita East High School, Wichita Heights, Wichita North, and Wichita West High School. While fears over gun violence in schools have increased, knife fights are also not uncommon. The new weapon detectors will also help reduce the number of students carrying knives and other destructive devices.
So far, 28 guns have been recovered since the 2017-2018 school year. Just over half have been confiscated since last year. Being that this is an increasing problem, weapon detectors were approved unanimously.
Installing weapon detectors in schools has been a topic of discussion for years. While opponents fear it may promote the school-to-prison pipeline, those in favor of this measure believe that finding weapons is crucial to preventing violent attacks. By 2016 somewhere around 10% of high schools were utilizing this security equipment for their safety protocols.
That number has likely increased as the nation continues to grapple with school safety concerns. Although each district and various states have taken different approaches to ensure students come to school and return home unscathed, school violence has continued to be a problem. Instead of experiencing frequent mass shootings, these schools have witnessed escalated isolated incidents that sometimes do not involve weapons at all and so weapons detectors may help reduce certain crimes, the overall issues stem from student mental health issues, and even educator prompted attacks.
How these new weapon detectors will affect the Wichita Public Schools depends on many factors. Educators and parents hope it will improve the situation, but that depends on students’ behavior. Once the systems are put in place the results will speak for themselves.