HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — Henrico County Public Schools' months-long process of testing metal detectors and weapons detection scanner technology will soon come to a close.
No weapons have been recovered so far in the field tests which were conducted at the elementary, middle, and high schools across Henrico County.
Although a gun was recently found in a trash can at Longdale Elementary, that school was not part of the field test.
"Looking at other implementations nationally, what we have learned is that it seems to be that these are a deterrent. So, when students know weapons scanners are in use, school systems that have put these in place saw significant reductions to weapons recovered in the school building and on campus," Henrico Superintendent Dr. Amy Cashwell said.
Based on preliminary results, Cashwell said school leaders believe weapon detection scanners, rather than common metal detectors and wands, may be the best option to install in Henrico schools.
"The scanners allow a large number of students to pass through at once. It is very unobtrusive at the school entry point from a visible standpoint, and it really doesn't disrupt the timeliness of getting started with the school day," Cashwell said.
Between 50% and 70% of respondents support investing in school safety technology, like weapons detection scanners, according to recent survey results presented at a HCPS School Board meeting in April. About 30% said implementing security measures like the scanners or metal detectors made them feel a greater sense of safety.
Cashwell said the county was also weighing hiring more School Safety Officers, or SSOs, as another layer of security.
Unlike School Resource Officers (SROs), they are not part of Henrico County's Police Department and are not armed.
"SSOs, School Security Officers, are Henrico Schools staff and they, of course, work in partnership and in tandem with our Safe Schools team and our school administrators to provide additional security personnel on campus," Cashwell said.
Henrico County conducted a survey and collected feedback from all participating schools.
Those results will be presented to the board at Thursday's meeting.
The board will then vote in June on whether or not to implement weapon detection scanners.
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