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VCU Health's weapons detectors launch ‘has gone really, really smoothly,’ police chief says

VCU Weapons Detectors
Posted at 6:58 PM, Aug 31, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- Several months after a deadly shooting inside a VCU hospital, the health system has launched a project to enhance security by installing weapons detectors.

Officials have already found dozens of people with weapons on them just days into the rollout, according to VCU Police Chief John Venuti.

“Over the past three days, over 50 knives, box cutters, and other items have been stopped from entering the environment. Three firearms and two tasers,” Venuti said.

VCU Police Chief John Venuti
VCU Police Chief John Venuti

That is what the new weapons detectors, which are installed across Richmond’s VCU medical campus, have picked up since they were installed Monday.

“The first day, we did approximately over 4,000 screenings on Monday,” Venuti said.

Getting scanned will be the new routine for patients, visitors and staff entering hospital buildings.

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Venuti said the machines are non-intrusive and will not require you to take out household items like a phone or keys.

“There's been no delays, there's been no real unintended consequences, everything has gone really, really smoothly,” Venuti said.

And the police chief said the process does not take long: “Literally, a second.”

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The emergency department has already been equipped with metal detectors for years. However, Venuti said there was a need to expand them following an incident in May where an employee shot and killed another worked in the stairwell of North Hospital.

That building, along with several others, has now received detectors. But the plan is for all locations to eventually get them in phases.

“We really started with the implementation at the points of high public access,” Venuti said.

VCU Health
VCU Health

The project comes with an expense as each machine costs $19,000. And each must be manned by two staff members, which costs $400 per day.

VCU is outsourcing 65 additional security workers.

“Every single person that comes here has the responsibility to ensure that it's a safe environment,” Venuti said.
 
Venuti said he hopes to have the weapons detectors at every building by Monday, Sept. 18. He said that installation is running ahead of schedule.

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