After the BOE meeting Monday, the Board approved the budget for all the Wichita Public Highschools to buy and install metal detectors in entrances to combat the recent rise in gun-related violence plagues our schools. Many gun scares have occurred recently, from the two guns found on the 29th in West and on the 30th in Heights to the firework incident in South on the 2nd; students, parents, teachers, and administration alike have been urging action by the board.
After this approval, South High has begun the process of ordering and utilizing these metal detectors. “The district is looking at 6-8 weeks,” provides Principal Travis Rogers, “to get the detectors here in Wichita.”
The devices are called OPENGATE. The board approved the spending of $1.5 million for 50 OPENGATE devices to be distributed to high schools in the district. The devices are advertised as allowing for a large throughput and having few nuisance alarms. Instead of forming a large line into the school, “students and staff will walk in the same way as they currently do daily,” says Rogers. Only when the devices go off, designed only to go off when detecting weapons that can cause mass harm, do students going through have to be searched. However, “[searching] typically takes less than a minute”. The chance of a nuisance alarm is “very small. Worst case there is a false positive, and we search,” Rogers ensures.
Schools in other districts with these detectors report a 99% success rate at catching weapons. Currently, the district doesn’t know if the detectors can pick up smaller pieces of contraband, such as vapes, which pose another significant problem in WPS. The devices are advertised as specializing in detecting multi-caliber and IEDs (Improvised explosive devices).
Doors One, Four, and Twelve will be protected. These correspond to the main, the C-hall bus, and the north-side 33rd St entrances.
The devices serve as the first line of defense. In the past couple of years, the number of weapons found on students has spiked. In the 2018-2019 school year, 6 guns were found. This dropped to 0 in 2020-2021 (You can imagine what happened…), but spiked to 11 last year. Already, by September 2nd, 2022, 5 guns were found in the district. This has definitely been felt, as shown with the quickly budgeted metal detectors.
Principal Travis Rogers provided comments and info. Other info was pulled from KWCH12 and CEIA, a website for purchasing security items. Weapon statistics based on info pulled from the district website