As we look back on a string of mass shootings and another attack on a public school, it’s time to ask “Is there a better way to approach school security?” Thanks to Motorola CWD, the answer may finally be “yes”.
Where mass shooting events were once a rare and shocking travesty, they have now become a tragically commonplace aspect of life in the United States. The number of school shootings in 2022 alone has reached a staggering 27 separate incidents, leaving many at a loss about what to do.
From the installation of security cameras and metal detectors to the increased presence of armed security on school campuses to the spike in lockdown drills and the emphasis on identifying warning signs, many changes have been implemented to boost safety in schools.
Clearly, it’s time to look to new solutions to deliver the security schools need. But before we can think about the future, it’s important to understand the context surrounding — and challenges presented by — current security systems.
Whenever a school shooting occurs, there is a natural progression to assessments of facilities’ capabilities to keep teachers and students safe. Many schools have worked to increase their security posture — at times even creating environments that feel inhospitable to students — but in too many cases these interventions are insufficient.
That isn’t to say that these schools haven’t made efforts to increase safety with the tools that were available to them. Over the years, we’ve seen the appearance of national guidelines offering detailed instructions on how to create threat assessment plans, support students who come forward with information, and develop plans of action involving local authorities when threats are detected. We’ve also seen individual schools and communities take on the burden of safety on their own, stationing deputies outside institutions year-round. Yet, despite these interventions, we continue to see one tragedy after another befall our students.
One significant shortcoming is the reliance on an imperfect weapon detection system: the metal detector. There’s no doubt that metal detectors have their advantages. Metal detectors can offer extra peace of mind to students, parents, and educators alike. Plus, they can detect both larger weapons, like guns, and smaller weapons, like knives, that might otherwise enter schools unnoticed.
But these solutions have inherent drawbacks. They can often feel unwelcoming and invasive to students, creating a sense that their school doesn’t trust them or that they are entering an inherently unsafe space. Metal detectors can also be largely impractical. Where students and staff could once easily enter and exit their school buildings, they are now slowed down by the process of removing items from their pockets in order to walk through the detector. As a result, metal detectors are not appropriate for some schools with student enrollment in the hundreds or even thousands.
Metal detectors can also be seriously costly, and the significant staffing they require only adds to that financial burden. Cutting corners on school security is the last thing a school wants to do, but metal detectors aren’t even able to detect many of the weapons now flooding the market (like ceramic knives and 3D-printed guns), meaning it might be time to reevaluate where security spending goes.
The good news is that there is now a solution that tackles all of the challenges with metal detectors head-on while simultaneously expanding on their pros: the Motorola Concealed Weapon Detection (CWD) system.
CWD isn’t a metal detector — it’s a scanning solution that leverages artificial intelligence and advanced sensors to detect a large variety of concealed weapons and threats on a person entering the premises. These include everything from firearms and improvised explosive devices to standard metallic weapons like knives.
Unlike a metal detector, the system’s technology can distinguish between personal items and weapons on its own, allowing hundreds of students, visitors, and faculty to walk through the scanner without slowing down, emptying their pockets, or dealing with pat-downs. In fact, students won’t interact with the system at all and may not even notice its presence.
Metal detectors require lanes of entry, starting and stopping, and areas for further inspection should an alert arise. With the CWD system, 3,600 visitors can pass through the operating range of just one CWD device per hour. That means students and staff can walk into school as normal with the confidence of knowing no weapons will be smuggled into the building. If a threat is ever detected, an alert is immediately displayed showing security operators monitoring the Motorola Solutions’ video management system exactly where the potential threat resides — whether it’s on a person’s body or in their bag. The video management system then automatically notifies and shares live video with the school’s security team so they can implement and support an immediate response.
As much as we would all prefer not to have to think about it, school violence is a problem that needs to be addressed in order to prevent its recurrence. Motorola CWD presents a new way to do just that. It goes beyond the capabilities of metal detectors to add extra layers of security and threat detection without creating added inconvenience and stress for students and faculty alike.
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