Arkansas district demonstrates safety technology proposed for Wichita schools – KWCH

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – As the Wichita school district plans security enhancements at its high schools, questions come regarding how the proposed new technology works. At the Wichita school board’s next meeting Monday, Sept. 12, the district will propose the purchase of 45 to 50 OpenGate devices for $1.5 million.
CEIA, the company behind OpenGate, describes the weapons detection system as an “automatic screening of people in transit, including their luggage, backpacks, and bags, for the detection of Mass Casualty Metal Threats, such as high caliber assault weapons and IED devices.
Among school districts in the U.S. using the OpenGate devices is North Little Rock, Arkansas, consisting of 10 elementary schools and five secondary schools (at the middle-school and high-school levels). A new part of the morning for students at North Little High School is walking through the OpenGate technology, meant to detect weapons.
In Wichita, a troublesome first couple weeks of school included the discovery of five guns at high schools. But Wichita Public Schools Director of Safety Services Terri Moses said the district’s proposal for the added safety measures is not in response to the recent issues, but rather something that the district has been looking at for quite some time.
North Little Rock School District Director of Security Services Chief Hayward Finks is the architect behind the security employed in one of Arkansas’ largest school districts.
“Around the country, there’s been gun incidents in the schools and we were just looking at a means to reduce or prevent weapons from coming into the building before we have a problem,” Finks said.
Three weeks into the school year, adding OpenGate has come with some learning curves in the North Little Rock school district. The system requires students to take out laptops and metal water bottles. But unlike a metal detector, students can walk through with almost everything else in their backpacks and keys and cellphones in their pockets.
“Talking to one of our ninth graders and I said, ‘hey, what do you think about OpenGate?’ And the first thing they said is, ‘I feel a lot safer,’” North Little Rock School District Superintendent Dr. Gregory Pilewski said.
Dr. Pilewski said in North Little Rock, they’ve had a youth gun violence issue and see OpenGate as a tool to help keep the school a safe and comfortable place to learn.
“It’s on everybody’s mind about safety and security, and we’re just trying to do everything,’ he said.
The North Little Rock school district said its seen the OpenGate technology make a difference already.
“We did have a student who had a toy weapon, and because of the OpenGate, he knew that we had these weapon detectors at the front doors. He discarded the toy weapon before he came into the school, so not just the real weapons,” Finks said.
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