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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, March 14, 2019 1:00 am

Hicksville schools try using detection

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

A school district just east of the Indiana-Ohio border has caught the attention of educators elsewhere with its newest security measure: a weapons detection system.

It's not a standard metal detection system. The unmanned device doesn't disrupt the flow of foot traffic as it monitors for cylindrical shapes, which could include gun barrels, bullets and knife handles, said Justin Kuhn of Entry Shield, the company that equipped Hicksville Exempted Village School District with the system.

“We're not trying to create the airport,” Kuhn said.

The system doesn't beep if a cylindrical object is identified. Instead, administrative personnel receive an alert, and they contact the school security team to investigate the issue, Superintendent Keith Countryman said.

Personnel won't necessarily know what the cylindrical object is – the security system isn't an x-ray machine – but they will get a photograph of the person carrying the item, Countryman said.

He knows the equipment works: a student carrying a metal ball bat set it off, he said, noting the bat was visible in the provided photograph.

Hicksville, a district of about 1,000 students, has one building with three entrances. So far, the new security system is only at the high school entry, Countryman said, noting a $40,000 grant will help cover the cost of equipping the other entrances.

Costs range from $30,000 to $40,000, he said.

Hicksville is the first school with the Entry Shield system, Kuhn said, adding others are curious about how it works in the educational setting.

Both Countryman and Kuhn, a Hicksville alumnus, recognize no security effort can entirely prevent a school shooting but said this security measure is another deterrent for someone seeking to do harm.

“If I can help save one life in a school system, the time and money we invested in this system is well worth it,” Kuhn said.