OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) — Owensboro Public Schools have added another layer of protection for students. The school district has implemented Open-Gate security systems.
The weapon-detection devices have been installed since the start of the school year. Before installing the systems, officials sought the opinions of students. The goal was to avoid entrances feeling like a TSA security checkpoint.
“They were talking about you know when I go to a football game or go to a concert like I don’t feel like it’s the same type of thing that’s kind of the environment that we wanted to create here,” said Jared Revlett, a spokesperson for OPS.
Officials say they actually studied the screening processes of large sports teams and concert venues before getting the devices.
“[Open-gate security systems] are used by the Tennessee Titans, the Cincinnati Reds; You know various teams and venues throughout the country. So, we really liked what we saw.. just the smooth ease of access to get students in,” said Revlett.
10 weapon detectors have been installed at Owensboro Middle School and Owensboro High School, as well as the Innovation Campuses.
“You know, we had out growing pains the first, the first couple of days. Just trying to get students used to using it. Trying to make sure that the screeners had the process down to a science, but here we are a little over 2 weeks into school now. Things seem to be going well,” said the Public Information Officer.
Items that have been found to set the detectors off include laptops, cases for glasses and metal water bottles. A list of items that can set off the detectors has been shared with students and their families. Students are working to commit these items to memory to ensure the smoothest entrance into the school day.
The goal of the portable devices is to keep students, staff, and community members safe. The devices were implemented into the community for the first time at the Owensboro High School vs. Bowling Green varsity football game. Revlett says the public’s perception has been positive.
“At Friday night’s football event, when bowling green came here to play football. We had them out at the football stadium, and I spoke to the school resource officer this morning. He said it went pretty smooth. He said everybody was in by the time the game started, and we communicated with families and said ‘hey allow yourself some extra time to get in and go through the screening process,” said Revlett.
The systems cost the district a little over $169,000 to install and train the safety team. The safety team is made up of staff members who have volunteered their time to screen belongings each morning. Revlett says overall the implementation has proven to be effective and timely.
“For the most part it’s gone really smoothly and we haven’t had anybody delayed getting into school and those kinds of things,” said Revlett.
As an added safety measure, students are also responsible for wearing their ID badges daily to differentiate them from visitors. If the identification cards are forgotten at home, or misplaced, students collect name tags from staff once successfully through the detection devices.
Officials say, if desired, elementary schools in the district can also implement the detectors in the future.