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Letter: Schools should use devices to detect raw gun powder

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As a former public school and private school classroom teacher, assistant principal and principal (PK3-eighth grade private school), the continued threat of school violence in any school continues to grapple within me. My school career began in 1996 and ended in 2011. I experienced too many years of excuses from school boards and disinterested school superintendents to enhance safety for our school campus. On or about 1998, New York State adopted a “safe schools” initiative whereby requiring every public school to adopt a school safety plan.

We are at a different place today with a continued threat of school violence. Given the absence of metal detectors, the threat of violence by any intruder is all too real in my mind. There are too many opportunities for a student, visitor or former student to gain entrance to any school and pose a threat. While I agree that prevention is one component to “identifying” a problem student, there is one missing component to school safety – secure facilities.

While researching private technology companies, thanks to my experience in the field of engineering, there are two products currently on the market that can detect raw gun powder. Their devices are used at border crossing inspections and random individual searches to detect the presence of gun powder.

Public or private schools can utilize their public tax dollars (or tuition funds) to install monitoring devices outside the facility to monitor for any presence of raw gun powder. These devices are very active and sensitive to the presence of gun powder inside of clothing, an overcoat or backpack.

It’s unconscionable to believe that locking all school doors is enough. The addition of security personnel, police resource officers or lock-down procedures are too dependent on people and natural errors. In my opinion, detecting the presence of gun powder that is within 100 feet of any school facility is a reliable prevention mechanism that has yet to be offered to taxpayers, parents and school personnel.

Paul Pinto

Angola

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