Memphis not alone as schools consider metal detectors - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Nick Paranjape

Memphis not alone as schools consider metal detectors

Memphis' system of public schools isn't the only one of its size in the nation to consider metal detectors as it grapples with an ongoing security problem. 

Thursday, Action News 5 spoke with school systems of similar size across the country to find out if they use metal detectors, and how they work.

City schools in Baltimore, Maryland are currently in the process of installing metal detectors.  In the past month, schools in Cleveland, Ohio and Birmingham, Alabama also installed the devices.

Schools in Little Rock, Arkansas to not have metal detectors, and are not actively discussing them as an option for security.

In Philadelphia, school security director James Golden said the public school system has used metal detectors in all of its high schools for the past 10 years.

Golden said the system was "very successful," leading to the confiscation of five firearms just last year.

"It provides for us an effective layer of security, among many layers," he said.

Golden admitted the equipment is expensive, with a price of up to $25,000 per unit.  Because the detectors are only placed at the front of Philadelphia schools, it is possible to bypass them by entering through other doors.

"Doors that are accessible from inside are problematic," Golden said.  "That's why we have multiple layers of technology, like surveillance technology."

Golden says students are asked to arrive a half hour early to school to go through the detectors, describing it much like going through airport security.

It's not a perfect system, he said, but is worth the investment.

Golden says it's not a perfect system, but worth the investment.  "How do you quantify safety when it comes to school age children," he asked.
If approved in Memphis City Schools, the total cost would be an estimated $ 4million, which would pay for the equipment and staff.

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