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Baltimore Schools Approve $6M For Weapons Detection System

The Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners unanimously approved $6 million on Tuesday night to install weapons detection systems within 26 of the city’s high schools.

The Inner Harbor in Baltimore.
Flickr/ Bossi
(TNS) — The Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners unanimously approved $6 million on Tuesday night to install weapons detection systems at 26 high schools.

The board did not engage in any public discussion about the system at the meeting and approved the funding in a single vote, along with eight other agenda items.

According to board documents, the weapons detection system will be installed at only high schools by Alliance Technology Group, which the board will pay nearly $5.46 million to install the systems and $540,000 for electrical upgrades at 26 schools. The district has around $7.8 million left over from $41 million originally assigned for construction at Armistead Gardens Elementary School, and the board voted to transfer that money to the general fund to be spent on the weapons detection system, according to board documents.

Last school year, the district spent roughly $229,000 for a six-month pilot program of a weapon system by Evolv security company at six high schools: Carver Vocational-Technical, Excel Academy, Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical, Patterson, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Frederick Douglass.

The system advertises to be faster than a typical metal detector because it only flags metal used in weapons, instead of all metal, which reduces the number of times students are flagged and searched, according to school officials. Students walk between two scanners, similar to the design of a normal metal detector.

Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical Principal Tricia Lawrence spoke in support of the system creating an “easier flow” of student screenings when the pilot started in December. As the largest school in the district, the efficiency of time is critical, she said. “We want our Mustangs to just get to class,” she said at the time.

Lawrence and her school community grieved the loss of 17-year-old Jeremiah Brogden due to gun violence outside the school two years ago.

Last month, the Baltimore City Council questioned education officials for two and a half hours at a hearing about school safety.

Councilmember Robert Stokes, who chairs the education, workforce and youth committee, said at the time, “Kids are bringing loaded guns to school, and you wonder why parents say, ‘My kid’s not safe in school.'”

Sonja Santelises, CEO of the school system, defended her tenure in the role: “Is it a perfect city? Is it a perfect school system? Are there not issues? Absolutely, there are. But I stand by that record.”

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