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Columbia Public Schools testing touchless weapons detection system at Hickman High School


Columbia Public Schools is testing a touchless weapons detection system at Hickman High School.

The test started Monday and will run through the Dec. 21 start of winter break.

Superintendent Brian Yearwood sent an email to notify families about the test on Thursday.

"This is another layer of safety for scholars," said Yearwood. "And we have what is called a weapons detection system that we are piloting that's able to determine whether someone that's walking into a school is bringing something that is considered a weapon, whether it's a firearm, a knife, things like that, and just being able to deter anyone from thinking about bringing any of those items into our school.

CPS spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said the system would cost the district approximately $900,000 for four years to place Evolv at all of the district's comprehensive schools.

Yearwood said that they are still in the early stages of discussions.

"This has not yet been approved by the board," said Yearwood. "There's still a process that we have to go through as far as vetting our vendors and, again, all systems, and this is but one layer for us, vetting that system."

The test comes as a result of hearing students' pleas for increased safety against gun violence. Last spring a walkout was held at Hickman High School in protest of gun violence, and a few days later CPS tested Evolv's "touchless" weapons detection system.

Board member John Lyman said that they are listening to the students and staff, and hope that this is something that they can find funding for in the future.

"We always listen to them, we want to listen to what's going on in our schools, we talked to our teachers, we talk to our administrator, but our students are ultimately who we're here to serve," said Lyman. "If this is something that is going to help them feel safe in coming to school and going to class and learning and being good students, then we want to, we want to listen to them."

A representative for Evolv told ABC 17 in April that the system is meant to detect weapons on people entering a building. It resembles a metal detector but uses AI programming to detect the density and size of materials that make up the slide or barrel of a gun.

Evolv has come from criticism from those who say the system isn't effective enough. The company told ABC 17 that the sensitivity can be adjusted to also scan for weapons such as knives, but there will be more false alarms with higher sensitivity.

According to Yearwood, the district hasn't committed to installing a system but it is still being considered in CPS high schools.

A demonstration is set to be held at Hickman High School on Monday starting at 8:30 a.m. ABC 17 News will have crews at the demonstration.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia Public Schools

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Marina Diaz

Marina is a Multimedia Journalist for ABC 17 News, she is originally from Denver, Colorado. She went to Missouri Valley College where she played lacrosse and basketball, and anchored her school’s newscast.


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