SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) – A new school security system is being considered at a meeting in Springfield on Thursday. It’s designed to keep weapons out of the schools and comes as the city faces an uptick in gun violence this year.
If you attend one of Springfield’s public schools, your day could involve a security screening through a metal detector before you head to class.
“Currently, we have metal detectors in a lot of our schools, all of our high schools, I think all of our middle schools, and some of our elementary schools may have them,” said Springfield School Committee Vice Chair Latonia Monroe-Naylor.
Monroe-Naylor said that safety is a priority, but explains the system isn’t time effective
“We realized, in order for us to get youth and adults and visitors whoever is coming into the building screened properly with a metal detector, it was just taking too long, so we couldn’t have everybody go through the line. We kind of had to select who we’re gonna pull through the line unless it was a very short line, which we all know is not equitable,” Monroe-Naylor added.
At Thursday night’s meeting with the school safety and budget and finance subcommittees, they will be learning about and discussing a new method using Evolv’s A.I. technology and sensors. If the subcommittees vote in favor of the Evolv Express systems, it will be placed on the agenda of a future school committee meeting. Monroe-Maylor told Western Mass News that, if the district adds this system, everyone entering the building can be checked.
“It’s very quickly people are able to walk through it and so it has a higher rate of finding out of there’s a weapon on the individual that is being screened,” Monroe-Naylor explained.
Evolv told us that, using AI, the Evolv Express system searches for weapons, not metals. Sensors recognize objects and A.I. identifies item as either weapons or personal items. People in charge of the system use a red/green light system. If the light turns red, they look at an image of what is detected to confirm where it is. Monroe-Naylor said it sounds like a helpful solution, but others may think the technology is too good to be true and are skeptical.
“I think the counter argument is around ‘Is it, in fact, going to detect weapons if we needed it to? Is there a need for us to take laptops, things like that, out of the backpacks?’” Monroe-Naylor said. “‘Is it going to help us be more efficient while also protecting each of the individuals that are in our buildings?’”
However, she noted that everyone is on the same page in making sure students feeling safe in school is a priority and implementing as many resources as they can as the city continues to combat an uptick in gun violence.
“We’ve been increasing the number of councilors in the buildings and just really looking at training to make sure our teachers are more culturally responsive from trauma and informed, so kids are not feeling isolated,” Monroe-Naylor added.
The meeting will take place at 6:15 p.m. Thursday at the Springfield Public Schools office on Main Street.
We did reach out to Springfield Public Schools about the proposed technology and spokesperson Azell Cavaan told us, in part:
“The district remains dedicated to fostering a safe and supportive educational environment, and is constantly seeking new technology, innovations, and tools to help secure schools. The agenda item involving Evolv for tonight’s school committee reflects that commitment…”
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