Callaway and Troup High debut new weapon detection systems
Published 9:00 am Saturday, May 13, 2023
The long-planned weapons screening system was implemented at Callaway High and Troup High on Friday morning.
The schools saw the debut of the new Ceia Opengate weapons detection systems. The devices are essentially a pair of metal detector towers, which sit approximately 34 to 36 inches apart. The units can operate on battery power or by being plugged in, making them highly portable.
Callaway Principal Jason Graham said every student who enters the building will pass through the metal detector screening at one of two locations, the bus entrance or the car-rider entrance. All other entrances to the school will be locked.
A campus security officer along with several staff members that would normally be assigned to morning supervision posts assisted with the screening.
The initial implementation went smoothly, but as expected on any day one rollout, it was not perfect. When the device was demonstrated to the Troup County School Board earlier this year, a backpack with keys, cellphones and metal cups did not set off the metal detectors, one of the main selling points.
On Friday, the device went off a handful of times as The LaGrange Daily News was present for cell phones and other small metal items. However, most students walked through without any problem, really only needing to slow down to hand over their Chromebook, which sets off the machine.
Graham said the devices are calibrated to alert to a sufficient density of metal like with a gun or knife. They shouldn’t go off for keys and cellphones.
If the machine detects a potential weapon, it beeps and the light turns red. The student is then asked to step to the side for a secondary screening.
Graham said one of the problem alerts for the devices is the Chromebooks, which are assigned to every student. The kids have been instructed to hand their laptops around the metal detectors before they proceed through because unfortunately, they are currently setting off the devices.
“Once we determine that there’s nothing that shouldn’t be in the school, they can then proceed,” Graham said. “I’ve been telling them to have your Chromebook ready. It’s something new, it’s a new behavior. It’ll take a little bit of an adjustment to get used to it but once we get used to it, I think this is going to go very smoothly.”
The new metal detectors are being given an initial run at Callaway and Troup High. LaGrange High will likely be delayed until fall due to logistical issues due to the number of entrances at the school. The devices are eventually expected to be implemented at all of the secondary schools and potentially at Callaway Stadium.
In January, the school board approved the purchase of 18 of weapon detection units at a total cost of $323,116.
“We’ve been preparing for probably the past three or four weeks,” Graham said, “I’ve been telling them to have your Chromebook ready. It’s something new, it’s a new behavior. It will take a little bit of an adjustment to get used to it, but once we get used to it, I think this is going to go very smoothly.”
Graham said he is proud to have the devices at Callaway, and they give him much more confidence about the peace and safety of the school.
“It’s just a great safety measure to have in place as a principal over 900 students responsible for their safety every single day. That’s a pretty intense responsibility that I take very seriously,” Graham said.
“I’ve got three kids in Troup County Schools myself, I want them to be safe every day too. So, for all the parents out there in our community, I think this is a very positive thing.”