Free metal detectors another tool for school safety

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

Local schools will be armed with state-provided metal detector wands during the 2018-19 school year through a program billed by the Governor’s Office as a component of a comprehensive approach by the state to bolster its school safety efforts.

Monday, Gov. Eric Holcomb reported that more than 3,200 handheld metal detectors were requested by 369 school entities through a program that began July 9 that made the devices available at no cost to public, charter and private schools that requested them.

Ninety-four percent of all traditional public school corporations have requested them. According to a press release, the devices should arrive in schools in August. The program allows schools to receive one metal detector for every 250 students.

Greater Jasper Schools requested 12 metal detectors, Southwest Dubois requested six, Southeast Dubois requested five, and Northeast Dubois requested three.

At the Greater Jasper School Board meeting Monday night, Superintendent Tracy Lorey announced that the district will need to enact a utilization policy before the detectors are used.

“Before we implement use of those ... we’ll want to talk about and finalize what is our policy and how is your actual guidance and administration of that looking,” Lorey said.

Northeast Dubois Superintendent Bill Hochgesang and Southeast Dubois Superintendent Rick Allen said in phone interviews this morning that they’re looking into how the wands will be implemented at their schools. Hochgesang said he doesn’t foresee staff scanning all entrants to the schools, but noted the devices could be used under reasonable suspicion or at special events such as school dances. Allen declined to comment on how they might potentially be used in his corporation to avoid tipping off criminals.

“We just feel like it’s another tool that could be helpful,” Hochgesang said.

North Spencer Schools Superintendent Dan Scherry said his corporation did not apply during the first round of funding this summer because leaders didn’t want to jump on board with the devices before talking about how and why they would use them. A second round of funding will become available this fall, and Scherry said district leadership “thought that might fit our time table a little bit better than jumping on it right away.”

In the press release, Holcomb said he was pleased with the number of schools that requested the wands.

“This program is all about giving local school leaders one more resource at their disposal to include in their safety plans,” he said.

All four Dubois County school districts and North Spencer Schools received matching grants by way of the Indiana Secured School Safety Grant Program from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security earlier this month. According to an IDHS press release, the money can be used to add school resource officers and equipment as well as conduct threat assessments.




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