Broward schools don't rule out metal detectors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Outside firm cautions against the screening devices, calling them impractical

By Carlos Suarez - Anchor/Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Broward County Public Schools will resume classes Wednesday with new security measures in place including armed guardians and new surveillance cameras, but students will return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School without metal detectors at the doors, causing concern among some parents and students.

At a meeting to discuss an outside security firm's findings on county schools, school officials said Tuesday that the district could still move forward with a pilot metal detector program in the coming months.

The firm, Safe Havens International, hopes to have a final report in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile late Tuesday, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said the city would provide the Broward public schools with 13 police officers to ensure that all schools will have an armed person on campus Wednesday.

Safe Havens International urged the district to update its surveillance system to allow cameras to be viewed remotely. The company also called for a digital intercom system that could be accessed off-campus. The report also urged the district to consider placing panic alarm buttons in key areas of schools.

"We have focused on the things that make most sense in terms of prioritization and the likelihood they can produce positive results," said Michael Dorn, the executive director of Safe Havens International.

Among the items the firm cautioned against was the use of metal detectors, citing costs and the number of staff needed for them.

The report said teachers should not have panic buttons in classrooms, and the firm does not recommend the widespread use of ballistic glass, saying it does not protect against rifle fire.

"If you don't pat people down, you cannot do entry point metal detection reliably. It simply cannot happen," Dorn said.

In a tense moment, a mother whose child is a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School asked what promise school board leaders could make to parents that no one will bring a gun to school Wednesday.

"When you announced that we were having metal detectors, my anxiety level dropped drastically. I felt so good. They are good enough for an airport, a stadium, courthouse. Why is it not good enough for my kid?" said parent Tracy Lund.

Jeffrey S. Moquin, chief of staff for Broward County Public Schools, cautioned that the board has not made a final call on whether to use the equipment.

"The decision was to pause and not necessarily abandon the idea. That's why we are here today," Moquin said.

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