From airports to government buildings and schools, walking through metal detectors has become a common part of contemporary life. On Thursday, Dumas High School (DHS) Principal Brett Beesley, Assistant Principal Janice Ruzowski, Dumas Independent School District (DISD) Police Department Chief Larry Payne and others watched near the front offices of DHS as Tanner Duggan of Garrett Metal Detectors demonstrated how to use the new, state-of-the-art metal detectors that will shortly be in operation in the district's secondary schools.
"They are more advanced. They have the pinpoint technology to show exactly where it is seeing the issues. There are visible lights that show where on the person the issue is being detected," said Duggan as he showed the school officials what would happen when someone with a metal object walked through.
The old detectors the district has been using, the oldest of which was purchased in 1994, would sound an alarm if someone walking through had some metallic object hidden on his or her body, but the detectors could not show exactly where on the body the object was, according to Payne. As a result, triggering the alarm could lead to an intrusive and time consuming search for the object. "What is nice about these as compared to the old ones we had is that these pinpoint where the object is located on the person," said Payne.
School officials plan to employ two detectors at DHS, two at Dumas Jr. High and one at North Plains Opportunity Center. "DISD's main priority besides education is making sure we address safety and security measures," said Payne. "We have a lot of things in place. This is just one additional tool."
Payne says the detectors will be used in number of ways. One way will be for school officials to randomly select classes to go through the detectors at various times of the day. As is the practice at airports, the students will have a chance to empty their pockets before walking through. If an object, especially a weapon or something that could be used as a weapon, is detected, Payne says, the student will be taken into a classroom for privacy and questioned further. Each of the detectors comes with a hand-held wand to be used for additional and more thorough screening.
According to Duggan, the old detectors are still in good enough shape to be used, so Payne says they will be taken and used at events off campus. "We want to save the new ones from having to be transported," he said.
DISD has, so far, been spared a tragic shooting, but a credible threat last year caused officials to look for ways to enhance security at schools and school events, while not turning the schools into jails. "Little by little we are addressing the issue of safety and security," said Payne.