In Newyork city, no student has been shot for more than 13 years. This is a very encouraging statistic and trend considering the common school massacres that have been happening. People have started feeling that metal detectors should be removed from schools since there has been a drop in crime rates. These are the same tools credited for maintaining safety in the institutions.
Some parent and advocacy groups argue that the scanners which have been in place for more than twenty years are not needed currently since crime rates have dropped drastically. They insist that the metal scanners are just discriminatory since they are mostly available in schools which have higher populations of blacks Hispanics.
According to Don Lieberman, a civil rights activist in Newyork city, condemning students to metal detector scanning makes the student develop a bad image of who they really are. Some would think that schools perceive them as terrorists.
However, some school safety union officials and some parents feel that if the cameras are removed, then the whole school community is exposed to unforeseen risks. Since July 2015, more than 300 weapons have been recovered by safety agents in the schools.
On a daily basis, almost 90,000 students are scanned mostly high school goers. Some activists and parent groups have continued to appeal to the government and local authorities to reduce scanning students with a security metal detector. In that figure, more than half of students who are scanned are black while the percentage of white students scanned stands at 14%.
As crime has reduced throughout the country over the past twenty years, the same trend has also been observed in schools. Robberies and violent crimes have reduced in schools. According to statistics obtained from the police department, there has been a 34% drop in assaults from 2011 to 2015. Therefore, critics argue that significant drop makes them unnecessary.
In Newyork city, a panel that had been convened by city hall advised that metal detectors should be removed. In Manhattan, an education council recommended that metal detectors should be completely removed which is supported by several online petitions.
However, education officials say no substantive plans have been put in place so far to effect the recommendations.
According to Lois Herrera, a school safety official, as much as progress has been made in the right direction, maintaining safety in schools remain the top priority especially for Hispanic, blacks, and students with special needs. School safety is something that cannot be compromised.
Other bigger cities like Philadelphia and Los Angeles still use metal scanners but done at a small scale. Detroit is the first city in the United States to use metal detectors. Their regulations require installation of these devices for every school that is new or has been renovated. Since the sandy hook incident, 160 school shootings have occurred since then according to statistics provided by gun control advocacy groups.
The last time a school shooting occurred in Newyork city, it was a double killing in Brooklyn in 1992. Since then metal detectors started to be used more regularly and on a wider scope. Before then, they were only used for social events.
The last school shooting occurred in 2002. On that particular day, a 17-year old student, Vincent Rodriguez, removed a hand gun from his waist band and started shooting randomly at Martin Luther King Junior High School on the upper west side of Manhattan. During that incident, two teenagers were shot by the villain. It emerged that they had teased his girlfriend and removed a bandana from her head. The two teenagers survived the incident.
Currently, only one of the 88 Newyork city school buildings metal detectors are used and school safety agents check the students every morning. During the security checkup, students place their personal belongings into their backpack and it is sent for an x-ray scan. The students are then ushered through a metal detector and in some instances, some patting can be done.
Students where this is done have different opinions. Some feel that it is a necessary undertaking, as much as it tends to be laborious and time consuming. Others say that it makes them feel as if they are being sent to prison.
It is the duty of school staff and state authorities to ensure safety of students at all times. However, some times where the staff is also exposed to the same risks facing the students as it was evident in the sandy hook shooting. Metal detectors remain an important part of the security set up but it should not be used discriminately.