BCPS Start Security Searches of Students
SBHS Senior Daniel Adderly was sitting in humanities class, 700 building, when there was a knock at the door. About three school security guards and four policemen walked into the classroom and ordered the students to leave their bags and line up out in the hallway. While in the hallway, police told students to empty their pockets into a container and then systematically began waving each student’s drown with hand-held metal detectors. Adderley was caught with a lighter and was called out of class for a lecture. “When I sat back into the classroom my bag was still open and wasn’t even placed back where I left it,” he said.
Adderley, along with about a hundred SBHS students, were students to be put through the latest school shooting security initiative — randomized security searches.
Last year, after several weapons were found on school campuses in BCPS, the school board passed school board policy 2010, authorizing the implementation of randomized, surprise metal detector screenings at all Broward County Public Schools. The searches began in August of the 2022-2023 school year.Searches were set to begin at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. According to Broward County School Board member Debra A. Hixon, other school districts have used random searches to tighten security as well.
“We are not the first school district, Orange County Public Schools and Hillsborough County Public Schools also conduct random metal detection screenings as well,” said Hixon.
Broward County Public Schools Police Department Sergeant Caridad Vesco is part of a team of security specialists and local law enforcement that conductas the searches. It goes like this. Each day, before arriving at the school, the county’s district office generates a computer program that selects any three high public or middle schools and five classrooms. Then a large group of civilian personnel and law enforcement arrives at the selected school and the school administration is then notified of the three classrooms that have been selected for the search.
Vesco has researched this program before it started. She says that studies didn’t show any significant change when using hand-hold metal detectors to prevent unwanted shootings on campus.
“It’s kinda too early, maybe a little too premature for us to say that they are effective,” said Sergeant Vesco. “I think only time will tell.”
This school year alone, South Broward High School has undergone four visits to 12 separate classrooms and the school could be selected again.
“To the school’s knowledge we can get searched tomorrow, weeks or months from now,” said SBHS Assistant Principal, Mr. Winburn. “We don’t really know.”
To date, a total of 135 school screenings have been conducted and 62 banned items classified as weapons have been confiscated including: airguns, tasers, pepper sprays, Chinese throwing stars, and kitchen knives. No guns have been found on any student so far. Around campus, reactions have been mixed.
SBHS AP psychology and peer counseling teacher, Jessica Acher thinks the searches are necessary because it decreases the chances of students bringing inappropriate stuff on campus.
“I think they’ve been actually really effective to people thinking about what they bring to school and [students] second guess what to put in their book bag,” said Ms. Acher.
SBHS student M.M was searched in the first round of metal detector screenings at SBHS. He thinks that the searches won’t be effective but that the school board should use walk-in metal detectors instead as a more efficient approach. He is concerned at how students will be dealt with if banned items are found.
“I was nervous during the search, but I wonder what the punishments that other students might go against if they find something on them,” said M.
One student was caught with a non-violent confiscated item.
“I know what I did was wrong,” said student. “They did what they are supposed to do and I respect that.
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