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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, July 10, 2018 1:00 am

Schools offered handheld detectors

State to provide devices at no cost

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

A new state program will begin equipping schools with handheld metal detectors this fall, but it's too early to know whether Fort Wayne Community Schools will take advantage of the offer.

Coordinated by the Indiana State Police and Department of Administration, the handheld metal detector program will make such devices available at no cost to schools that want them, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Monday.

The news coincided with a school safety update, which included the General Assembly's allocation of an additional $5 million to support school safety grants. More than $14 million in matching grants were awarded statewide. FWCS, Northwest Allen County, East Allen County and Southwest Allen County schools each received $50,000.

FWCS uses the grant to support six school resource officers from the Fort Wayne Police Department. The grant can also be used to buy equipment and conduct threat assessments.

Under the new metal detector program, schools may receive one handheld device for every 250 students, according to a news release.

The offer applies to public, charter and accredited non-public schools.

“Controlling what comes into our school buildings is just one important part of keeping our schools safe, and our efforts to assist school corporations must be ongoing and evolving,” Holcomb said in a statement.

“Local officials are best positioned to determine their school safety needs and the measures that make sense for their students and communities, and – for many – these handheld metal detectors could make a substantial difference.”

Chris Himsel, superintendent of Northwest Allen County Schools, said it's always appreciated when state leaders take steps to improve school safety, but he couldn't comment on the metal detector program until he had more information.

Fort Wayne Community Schools had a similar reaction.

“We have not been directly notified of the governor's plan to provide schools with hand-held metal detectors or what the expectation will be regarding training and use of the devices,” according to the district's statement. “No single device on its own can provide all the security we want for our students and staff.

“However, we will review the offer from the state and our security plan to determine how and if this fits in our plans. No decision will be made until we have extensive conversations with the FWCS Board of School Trustees and internal security staff.”

The state will place the first orders July 19 for delivery by mid-August. Subsequent orders will be filled later this fall, according to the release.