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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

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Champaign's High Schools now have metal detectors

After months of conversations between parents and the school district, Champaign’s High Schools now have metal detectors at the entrance. The machines were installed at Central and Centennial units over the holiday break and are fully working for the spring semester.

Credit: Manu Ferreira

The goal of this new safety measure is to detect weapons and guarantee protection to the kids and staff. In the last semester, schools went on lockdown after shooting episodes happened in the town. To avoid or minimize those incidents, the Champaign school board acquired eight dual-lane metal detectors from Evolv Technology. The cost for their operation is about $237,000 per year for the next four years.

“School security and student/staff safety has always been and must always be our number one priority. With the increasing gun violence in our community and other communities across the nation, along with the need for more school lockdowns, we are also improving and instituting new measures,” explains Joe Williams, principal of Champaign Central High School.

The pieces of equipment are called Evolv Express, which has high-speed sensors and AI software to identify threats. They work similarly as a screening process in an airport, for example, but less harsh. Students and staff just need to walk through it. If it detects any harmful item, the lights on the side will turn red, instead of green, and the sound alarm will beep. On the monitor is possible to see images that indicate with a red square where the object is, regardless if it is on a person or in his bag.

As they are looking for weapons, the detectors won’t go off for everyday items, such as cellphones, keys, watches, or wallets. The only thing that needs to be out of their backpacks is their chrome book. Due to its express functioning, the metal detectors don’t interrupt the flow of people at the entrance and don’t cause long lines.

Parents are pleased that the devices were installed and hope they will help to stop cases of violence and insecurity at schools. “I think we’ve had enough incidents this year between the various high schools here. I think it is probably a good idea at this point to have some sort of way to manage what is coming in the building,” says Julie Sweet, mom of a freshman student.

For Carey Saunders, another student’s mom, metal detectors are okay as long as they are for their safety. “I don’t think they have confiscated anything so far, but it’s good to have this protection,” affirms.

Photo by Manu Ferreira

*This article was published on the UI7 Newsroom website.

About Manu Ferreira

Hi, my name is Manu Ferreira. I am multimedia producer. I hold a bachelor's degree in Social Communication - Radio, TV, and Internet, and a Master's degree in Journalism. Here, I want to share my ideas and some of the work I've done in my career.


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