Weapon, vape detectors coming to Isle of Wight schools

Published 4:26 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Isle of Wight County Schools will install weapon and vape detectors in its middle and high schools ahead of the 2023-24 school year.

The School Board voted unanimously June 8 to approve the purchase of eight weapon detectors for just over $153,500 and 32 vape detection systems for just over $88,000, and to add both purchases to the capital improvements plan it had adopted in February.

IWCS security and emergency management specialist Jason Brinkley plans to place two weapon detectors in each high school and two in each middle school. The February plan had called for spending $2.5 million to purchase 25 weapon screening devices.

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Brinkley said plans are in the works to eventually place the screening devices in the county’s five elementary schools too.

These are “not metal detectors,” IWCS spokeswoman Lynn Briggs clarified.

In January, the School Board was shown a presentation by Evolv Technology, a manufacturer of a two-lane rapid detection system that, according to the company, would screen up to 3,600 entrants per hour and would use artificial intelligence to distinguish among weapons, explosives and everyday metallic objects. Only an object deemed threatening would trigger an alert.

Vape detection systems, according to the websites of multiple manufacturers, detect the chemicals emitted by “vape pens,” also known as electronic cigarettes. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, e-cigarettes heat a liquid that, when aerosolized, delivers nicotine, marijuana or other drugs and chemicals.

According to Briggs, the detectors, upon detecting vape particles in the air, would send a silent alert to security personnel and school administrators.

A specific manufacturer, make and model for the weapon and vape detectors has not been finalized, Briggs said.