When Detroit public high school students return to school this year, they’ll pass through high-tech detection machines akin to airport security systems that snap a photo and indicate the location of any metal objects on their bodies.
The systems are used in some high schools across the country, but Detroit Public Schools is the first district in the nation to install it in all of its high schools, according to the manufacturer, Baltimore-based View Systems.
Last year, when the city’s Communication & Media Arts High School won a TV show makeover, View Systems donated a ViewScan concealed-weapons detector. Now, they’ll be in all Detroit high schools this school year.
The walk-through scanners use advanced magnetic technology to pinpoint threatening objects while ignoring common items such as coins, body piercings, and small keys, according to the company. The scanners create an image that appears on a monitor. Indicators point to spots on the image where metal is detected. The photos and information can be stored for months or years.
“It’s a nice tool,” said DPS Police Chief Rod Grimes. “We found it was able to move 500-plus students [through] in less than 15 minutes.”
DPS officials also were impressed, and bought and installed 60 units in the 32 high schools, spending $534,000 from the $500.5-million construction bond voters approved in 2009.
“If Johnny comes in carrying something … and his parent says, ‘Oh, no, not my Johnny,’ you have the photos,” said Gunther Than, View Systems’ founder and CEO. “We built the units for Detroit, according to specifications of Detroit’s needs. The Detroit models are becoming the standard models for schools, so Detroit is actually leading the way.”
The $534,000 security system is one of several new features DPS is rolling out this fall in an effort to increase safety and improve its image after more than 800 assaults in the 2009-10 school year, the most recent statistics available. DPS also has a new motorcycle police patrol unit and more surveillance cameras to augment its existing ID-badge system for visitors to high schools, which includes a quick background check to pinpoint sex offenders.