[Brief] BCPS implements random bag searches and metal detector wands in all schools

Alison LaTorre, Writer

Starting in the spring, Broward County Public Schools will upgrade security with metal-detecting wands to reduce the amount of weapons brought onto campus. The county is allowing for these metal-detecting wands to scan any bags brought into school including backpacks, purses, etc. randomly any time throughout the day.

“I think that bag searches are good for ensuring that students and everyone else at school [are] in a safe environment,” sophomore Alex Pfeifer said.

Since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School almost four years ago, security improvements have continued to take place even years after. Recently, security at MSD and other schools in the district have been implementing stricter identification rules and checking that everyone on campus belongs there.

“ID tags ensure the safety of everyone at school and make sure that everyone there is supposed to be there,” sophomore Shawn Bennett. “It’s a rule that although sometimes annoying is important for everyone’s safety.”

BCPS held a board meeting on Jan. 11 to discuss the addition of these searches and metal detector wands as well as the specific rules put into place. Any employee of BCPS refusing a search will not be allowed to return to work the following day. Refusal of search can also lead to possible termination not just for teachers, but for administration, guidance, faculty and more. Board members like Lori Alhadeff show a slight concern that many visitors and employees will refuse search, thus requiring the implementation of strict consequences.

A consequence for students could be a possible parent conference, bag search with consent, and eventually can lead to detentions and suspensions.

Students can also not be permitted to enter the school if bag search is refused. Most of the weapon incidents on campus seen this year have been students, so having bags checked if suspicious can hopefully be the solution to this issue.

“I think it is a violation of privacy to do random bag checks especially on students who are not under suspicion of anything,” sophomore Ximena Alvarez said. “If a student is carrying a large bag, a non-school bag or is being suspicious, then I think a bag check would be the safe thing to do.”

One issue following these security upgrades is the speculation of the possibility of racial profiling. Some minority students and staff fear they may be targeted to search not because of suspicion but because of their race. This issue isn’t just going to face MSD, but most schools will also face this issue. These random searches can be speculated to be racially motivated and make students and staff of minority groups feel discriminated against and mistreated.

The addition of metal detectors was first introduced in 2019 by former Superintendent Robert Runcie, but never occurred due to the proposed costs.

“Metal detectors are smart safety-wise but will also be very costly,” freshman Amanda Liu said. “The consequences of not letting your bag get searched should be a parental conference, bag search if parents consented and detention.”

Since these will be metal-detecting wands, the cost is significantly less than installing and funding full-body metal detectors.