Madera Unified schools introduce new scanners to keep students safe

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Saturday, August 26, 2023
Madera Unified schools introduce new scanners to keep kids safe
Madera Unified introduced a new weapon detection system to its schools on Friday.

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Madera Unified introduced a new weapon detection system to its schools on Friday.

The district said there were no specific threats or incidents, but they wanted to create a secure learning environment proactively.

"We're rolling out the Evolv weapons detection system," said Lawrence Fernandez, Director of Safety & Security MUSD. "The weapons detection system is basically a system that uses a magnetic filter with AI to determine if a student possibly has a weapon, gun or possibly a handgun, or large knife."

The scanners are at all middle and high school buildings in the Madera Unified School District. Students pass through Evolv scanners as they enter the building without having to take anything out of their pockets and backpacks, so they're not left waiting in long lines at the entrance.

"When we're looking at like archaic metal detectors, right, that's an 80-something-year-old technology," said Jill Lemond, Director of Education at Evolv Technology. "And what those end up doing is actually causing long lines. And then you are trading one security risk for another. You're creating a soft target, if you will, outside of the secure environment."

If there's an alert, students step off to the side.

"Unlike a metal detector, our system creates what we call a bounding box, and it's a red square around whatever item may have looked threatening to the system," said Lemmond. "So instead of not knowing where to search on a student, it's very precise."

The technology is already used at sporting arenas, like SoFi Stadium. MUSD is the first school district in the Central Valley to use the scanners and only the second in California.

The new system offers some peace of mind to parents.

"I think it just gives me another layer of security," said Frank Guillen, Madera High School Parent. "I really appreciate having a say, like the security officers. And now that's just one more layer to keep the kids safe. So I appreciate it, I like it."

As of Friday, the scanners are being used at Thomas Jefferson Middle, Madera High, and Madera South Campus. They will continue to be rolled out at schools in the district over the next week.

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