He Spies With His Beady Black Eyes. Pt. 4. Whose Safety Matters Most I Think I Know

Wardynski’s own. After all, years before he dreamed up the stealth program SAFe he had metal detectors installed in Merts Center, his own headquarters.

If kids entering schools with guns and knives is truly a serious problem in the Huntsville City Schools, wouldn’t the most direct, quick, and obvious solution be to install metal detectors?

Instead, W amassed a “W”atchlist of 600 kids, 3% of the student body,without Board approval (or even knowledge?), without the knowledge of citizens paying for the list, and without soliciting bids for the stealth monitoring campaign.

After all, metal detectors have several advantages that would not have landed W in the soup.

1. Metal detectors detect metal. They do not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, economic class, ethnicity, or [presumed] religion. Unless W had simultaneously implemented VIP entrances into the schools, he would not have incurred the attention of the ACLU (for this, anyway). Metal detectors are equal opportunity instruments.

2. Metal detectors deal with what is before them in the here and now. They do not act based on unreliable tips, they do not judge what maybe might someday be the intentions of the persons before them.

3. Metal detectors are a one-time purchase. The HCS doesn’t have to keep dumping money in the account of a business the Board claims not to know was on its payroll.

4. Metal detectors would act as a deterrent — a kid would have to be pretty damn dumb to bring in a knife or gun through the detectors. How can a stealth program serve as a deterrent? It can’t.

5. Finally, if metal detectors are good enough for the top brass, shouldn’t the lowly foot soldiers, the teachers and school staff members and of course the children (think of the children!) deserve the same level of protection?

But let’s acknowledge the disadvantages.

1. Someone might get the idea that violence is a problem in the HCS. If it is, then why pretend it isn’t? And if it’s not, then why the stealth SAFe?

2. Metal detectors do not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, economic class, ethnicity, or [presumed] religion. Yeah, you did already see that as number 1 on my list of advantages. But what I consider an advantage may be disadvantageous to someone else — I mean, if the machine starts shrieking and it is one of “our kids” caught in front of everyone — well how awkward would that be?

3.  Metal detectors are a one-time purchase. This would not be good news for T&W Operations,  founded by two retired career military officers, who have been collecting the checks from HCS.

Every project its own Dick Cheney, I guess. Follow the money.




2 thoughts on “He Spies With His Beady Black Eyes. Pt. 4. Whose Safety Matters Most I Think I Know

  1. Metal Detectors may be a one time purchase, but for them to be effective they have to be manned by a guard. How many entrances do the students use in each of the schools? How many guards are already in the schools that could be used to man metal detectors? If teachers are to be used to supplement the guards, what happens when classed begin and student arrives late?

    Now I don’t know the layout of the high schools in Huntsville, but I do know the layout of the two high schools in Decatur.

    Decatur High School would be the simpler of the two to equip with metal detectors considering it is essentially one building (the original high school is connected to the old middle school by an enclosed walkway with two major extensions). You have three major public/visitor entrances (one for the office, one for the main gym, and another for the auditorium). The students use various entrances (six of them when I attended) all on the back side of the building where the student parking lot is. So for DHS, we are talking about at least 4 entrances that would have to be protected due to the size and the layout of the building.

    Austin High School is much more problematic. Austin High was built using an open architecture design and is comprised of 12 different building that are connected by open walkways. Basically when a student leaves one class, they leave that building to go to another building. Austin would require at least 12 sets of metal detectors and guards to man those metal detectors.

    Even thinking about my step-son’s elementary and middle schools, the schools may only have one or two primary entrances but have many secondary entrances that are used by the teachers and students throughout the day.

    2 high schools, at least 16 guards to go along with at least 16 metal detectors (some entrances might need more than one metal detector and guard).

    • These are all very insightful points.
      I’m wondering why each detector would have to be manned. I’m not thinking of an x-ray machine and conveyor belt, but rather a walk through that would shriek or have flashing lights if metal were detected and which would have a low enough sensitivity setting not to pick up keys or belt buckles. I guess a kid could run into the crowd if he set off the alarm, but I presume that CCTVs are also employed in the entrances and exits of schools. From what I remember of Columbia, New Century when it was in Research Park, and the old Lee, while there were many exits, there was one entrance. Seldon had a metal detector. Detectors would slow down entrance into the schools, that’s for sure, but I don’t think unreasonably so since a walk-through is essentially a door without hinges. Two new high schools are being built in Huntsville, so security should be a subject discussed now. A lot of money went into the fence around Lee. I haven’t figured out what its goal was yet. Securing a school like Austin sounds next to impossible, frankly, and I doubt that post-Sandy Hook you will ever see this open air design again.
      I’m also not sure if the SRO’s (the Huntsville Police Student Resource Officers) are budgeted from school or city funds, another interesting point.
      The HCS still has not provided firm figures on how much its surveillance of online media has cost so far or how much it will cost in the future, so we can’t compare prices of other options for increasing school safety yet.
      I would think that metal detectors would serve as deterrents to violence using weapons. Of course, I’d be surprised to learn that most injuries from school violence didn’t result from kids beating other kids — and neither metal detectors nor focusing on kids posting pictures of themselves with weapons outside school is going to help there.
      Thank you for your comments.

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