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Weapon detectors coming to CMS middle schools this fall, district says

CHARLOTTE — Weapon detectors are coming to all Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools middle schools this fall, a district spokesperson confirmed to Channel 9 on Friday.

The spokesperson did not give an exact date of when the machines will be installed, but said it would happen sometime in the fall of the 2022 to 2023 school year.

Earlier this year, the district began adding the detectors in high schools -- 21 different schools, according to to our partners at the Charlotte Observer -- to improve safety. In a meeting on March 8, school officials also announced clear backpacks would be coming, but that decision was later reversed when the bags arrived with Proposition 65 warning tags.

In June, a student was found with a gun on the campus of a northwest Charlotte middle school, according to CMS. In a message to families, the principal said students were no longer allowed to bring backpacks onto campus for the remainder of the school year.

When it comes to guns found on school grounds in North Carolina, Mecklenburg County has led the state for the most guns found over the past 11 years, according to state data shared by the Charlotte Observer.

From 2010 to 2021, Mecklenburg County schools have accounted for nearly 23% of all firearm offenses in North Carolina. The county with the next highest number of firearm offenses was Guilford County, followed by Wake County.

“The installation of the Evolv body scanners in our high schools has proven to be effective in deterring weapons in our schools in the second semester,” said Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh in a statement. “We will continue the rollout of scanners to the remaining CMS high schools as well as a plan to reach our middle and K-8 schools.”

Hattabaugh’s full statement on the decision is below:

“To CMS families, staff and our community:

“I want to provide you with an update on school safety for the 2022-2023 school year. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools intends to secure and install Evolv body scanners for K-8 and middle schools across the district. Similar to the high school rollout during the spring of 2022, this effort demonstrates our commitment to providing a secure school environment where students can thrive academically, socially and emotionally.

“The sale of guns nationwide has almost doubled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Guns were the leading cause of death for children and teens in 2020, surpassing injuries from vehicle crashes, drug overdoses or cancer. Only 100 miles away, the shooting of a Greenville, S.C., middle school student is a tragic reminder of this trend. Locally, the number of weapons confiscated reached an all-time high last year, including the confiscation of four firearms in the last semester at K-8 and middle schools.

“This decision comes with much thought and consideration of these national, regional and local trends. CMS will be expanding our efforts and taking the proactive steps necessary to protect our students, families and staff through the installation and use of Evolve scanners. The installation of the Evolv body scanners in our high schools has proven to be effective in deterring weapons in our schools in the second semester. We will continue the rollout of scanners to the remaining CMS high schools as well as a plan to reach our middle and K-8 schools.

“The details of the schedule and timeline of this phased initiative will be shared as they are finalized.

“Thank you for your continue support of providing a safe and secure learning environment for our students.”

(WATCH BELOW: Gun found on student at north Charlotte middle school, source says)

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