SC district gives inside look into safety technology being used in its schools

CHARLOTTE — Channel 9 is looking into what Charlotte-Mecklenburg students could face walking into school as the districts aims to crack down on guns.

The district plans to start installing weapon detectors, which may look similar to the ones in the photo below, as soon as next month.

We don’t know exactly what technology Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is using, but reporter Elsa Gillis was able to get an idea of how it might work though a South Carolina school system.

“So the equipment works. The students, anybody coming in, knows that we’re going to detect it,” said Doug Nunnally, Director of Security & School Safety for Florence 1 Schools.

For about two years now, thousands of high school students in South Carolina’s Florence 1 school district shuffle through weapon detection machines every day before school.

“We haven’t, as of yet, found any firearm. And that’s because they’re acting as a deterrent, which we knew they would,” Nunnally said.

The machines are tested each day by the school resource officer, who walks through with their service weapon.

Nunnally said it’s important that people understand they’re not body scanners.

“They work on a method of detecting different wavelengths and the magnetism, and things that the items that they are designed to detect, emit,” he said.

The main items the technology is looking to detect in the school district are guns and bombs.

“Subject matter experts and everyone is kind of in agreement that in a mass casualty or active shooter situation, that it would be either a gun or a bomb that would do the most damage,” Nunnally said.

He said unlike metal detectors, which they have tried, students don’t have to empty pockets or take off backpacks, causing long lines.

“Completely streamlined and frictionless,” he said. “Overall, it has been an overwhelmingly welcomed success.”

Nunnally said educating the community before they rolled it out was also important.

He said the machines are meant to be that last line of defense. They’re still monitoring other intelligence, tips and social media to keep weapons out of school.

Nunnally also said they have had a couple issues with other things being flagged that are not dangerous, but for the most part, the company has been able to adjust the technology so those items are no longer detected.

(WATCH BELOW: CMS holds ‘Let’s Talk about Safety’ discussions with parents, students)

CMS holds ‘Let’s Talk about Safety’ discussions with parents, students

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools held another open discussion with parents and students Wednesday.

It’s one of several sessions over the next few weeks called “Let’s Talk about Safety Night.”

Dozens of parents showed up for the event at West Charlotte High School on March 22.

Officials said 10 guns have been found on campus there since August 2021. One person was also shot outside the school back in December.

“I feel like if we could get these kids at a younger age, we would have less school school shooting. We would have less violence because we would be able to teach the tools that are needed at such a younger age to help prevent the violence,” one parent said.

Channel 9 reporter Erika Jackson was at the first meeting earlier in March, where parents said they are more than ready to see changes.

For that open discussion, families gathered at Myers Park High School where parents addressed concerns about crowds, domestic violence issues, as well as physical and emotional safety in schools.

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CMS has been working on boosting safety in schools.

Those efforts include implementing the use of clear backpacks, which are expected to be in the district’s high schools later in the spring.

Seven high schools will also get weapon detectors within the next month.

Families recognize change won’t happen overnight, but they want to see the difference in the halls.

“I’ve seen some where they’re putting metal detectors in schools, the clear book bags, but I want to see more,” parent Dawne Cornelius said. “I want to make sure the students are safe and also accountability. Holding students accountable for their actions.”

Below is information on other “Let’s Talk about Safety” discussions that CMS plans on holding:

March 24, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

March 29, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

April 6, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

(WATCH BELOW: 9 Investigates: Another parent says CMS bus driver swabbed kids’ cheeks for money)