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Columbia Public Schools tests touchless weapons detection system

Halle Jackson
Columbia Public Schools administrators and others saw a demonstration of the Evolv Express weapons detection system Tuesday morning at Hickman High School. District representative Michelle Baumstark said that one of the reasons for the demonstration was to see how the system would work in real time.

On Tuesday, Columbia Public Schools hosted a demonstration of a weapons detection screening system at Hickman High School.

The demonstration was organized at the request of Hickman students, who have been asking the district to consider implementing the technology.

The screening system,called the Evolv Express, is portable and touchless— which means facilities can screen more people in a shorter amount of time. Evolv Technology, which makes the system, says by combining traditional sensors with AI technology, the tech can quickly and accurately detect threats.

CPS Director of Safety and Security John White said about 1,100 Hickman students were processed through the system in around 25 minutes as they walked into school Tuesday.

CPS has not yet committed to adding a weapons detection system to its security measures, nor is there a timeline to do so. But White says the district is constantly re-evaluating safety operations throughout the district.

"We live in a scary world right now," White said. "And I think that this is probably something that will be on the horizon very quickly at most all schools.”

Jeanne Snodgrass, the vice president of the Columbia School Board, said that the board will look at feedback from students, administration and the community before making any decisions.

"It's a really delicate balance, I think, right? We're all concerned about safety. We're also very concerned that this continues to feel like a school and that students feel like their privacy is being respected," Snodgrass said.

There will be more tests of the Evolv screeners at Hickman Wednesday.

Halle Jackson is a senior in the Missouri School of Journalism studying cross-platform editing and producing.
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