WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools are working on numerous strategies to increase safety after a rash of gun-related incidents in the wake of the Mount Tabor shooting.
Jonathan Wilson, Executive Director of Safety and Security explained at the press conference held Thursday afternoon that they’ve increased the number of metal detection wands from at least two to at least four in all high schools in the districts, while all middle schools have at least one.
Right now, metal detection wands are used if administrators have a reason to believe that a student has something. These are usually based on tips.
Wanding is a program that’s been in place for some time, and they can do that on-demand if there is a need.
Superintendent Tricia McManus states that they are working with a consultant to address problems of violence and weapons in schools, and will have more information in the coming weeks, and are inviting feedback from parents, students and other community members.
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Wanding or using metal detectors on every student that walks in the building would be a labor-intensive undertaking.
“It’s just that it creates a belief that at any time this could happen,” McManus said. “So that if you bring a weapon you’ll be at risk of being caught.”
McManus believes, however, that focusing on what they can do to prevent people from bringing anything to campus in the first place is going to be the focus of their attention.
Their current security adaptations involve narrowing entry points into schools, to maintain the flow of people coming onto campus.
Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough said he supports the idea of metal detectors in schools, especially after the recent security scares.
“Once you’ve come to expect something, you start to accept it, and we’ve come to the place where it is becoming the norm,” he explained.
The sheriff has also asked Forsyth County Commissioners for more than $3.8 million to create a Juvenile Intervention and Investigation Team.
Currently there are 29 School Resources Officers that patrol 25 campuses within the district, with the inclusion of five roving deputies who go from campus to campus to help as needed.
“Dealing with a juvenile, that needs to take place. The intervention needs to take place before something happens. To have a unit that’s gathering information,” the sheriff explained.
The estimated cost for the new positions runs roughly $96,000 each, which would be around $480,000.
The team would consist of eight sworn officers: one sergeant, one corporal, six deputies/detectives, and one non-sworn senior office assistant.
That team would focus primarily on enforcement, investigations and intervention with young gang and violent crime involved youth.
Offenses with youths aged 8 to 14 increased 65% from fiscal year 2018-2019 to fiscal year 2019-2020.
Between fiscal year 2019-2020 and fiscal year 2020-2021, offenses with firearms increased 31.7%.
County commissioners won’t fully discuss this until next year.