INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb provided an update Monday in the state's efforts to improve school safety, and announced a new program for schools to get handheld metal detectors.
The metal detectors will be made available to any public, charter and non-public school that wants them and will not cost the schools anything. They will be provided one detector for every 250 students.
“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. “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.”
Meanwhile, some parents in Noblesville, who are still reeling from the school shooting that took place in may, say they are unsure about the efficacy, and efficiency of the handheld detectors.
“ I’m half glad that they’re doing something about it, but on the other hand I’m wanting to know if we could be spending on something more thorough, a little more consistent and provide better safety," Joanna Schutte said.
Schutte's son will be an eighth grader at Noblesville West Middle School in the fall, she adds that she also has concerns about how the children will react to the wand style detectors, likening the process to a secondary security check at the airport.
“It’s kind of like oh my goodness what did I forget, what did I do wrong, other people are looking at you, and that’s not the point of these detectors, the point is to catch the people who are trying to do something wrong," she said.
The parent group SOS Noblesville, who has been a loud voice for school safety changes, also weighed in on the announcement.
In a statement the group said in part:
" While we certainly appreciate our taxpayer dollars being spent to provide metal detecting wands, and the assurance that all opinions are being heard, we need to instead focus on implementing what the 2016 Legislative Session of the Indiana General Assembly, Governor Mike Pence, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, and the Indiana Sheriff’s Association have already signed into law."
The Indiana State Police and Department of Administration (IDOA) will coordinate the program. Interested schools can submit requests here. The first order will be made on July 19 and should arrive by mid-August.
Details about the Garrett Super Scanner V can be found here.
So far officials from Indianapolis Public Schools, Beech Grove schools and Anderson Schools said they are interested in taking up the state on its offer.
Additionally, Gov. Holcomb says these actions were taken by lawmakers in 2018 in connection with school safety.
- Made $35 million in low-interest loans available to schools to increase school safety through the Indiana Common School Fund. Applications may be found on the Indiana Department of Homeland Security website.
- Provided an additional $5 million to support school safety grants recently approved through IDHS
- Dedicated $1 million to support a full audit of school safety plans around the state
The General Assembly also allocated an additional $5 million for school safety grants for a total of more than $14 million. This money will be used for additional school resource officers, safety equipment and threat assessments.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) says they received 390 applications from school corporations for the grants. Indiana Public School was not on that list. FOX59 has reached out to school officials to find out why.
Indiana law states every school must have a safety plan and every school corporation must have a school safety specialist.
Indiana already has many school safety policies in place. By law, every Indiana school is required to have a school safety plan and every school corporation must have a school safety specialist. Indiana is also one of only five states with a "red flag" law, which allows officers to confiscate firearms from those deemed as a danger to themselves or others.
Since 1999, IDOE has hosted a school safety academy to train school safety officers. The academy is funded through the Safe Haven Grant, which also provides matching grants for prevention programs and school resource officers.
Gov. Holcomb noted recommendations from his school safety taskforce are due in August ahead of the 2019 legislative session.