Salt Lake City moves to put metal detectors in schools as critics claim it's racist

Board member Ashley Anderson claims "people of color" will be at risk for "the escalation of violence."

A number of schools in Salt Lake City, Utah will soon be fitted with weapons detectors in an attempt to prevent yet another classroom massacre from taking place. While the move has been celebrated by some, a number of parents and school board members have been less enthusiastic about the possibility of students having to go through airport-level security every morning.

Detractors have cited statistics purporting to show that such technology fails to address the problem and said the practice could disproportionately impact students of color.

As KSL reports, Ashley Anderson and Mohamed Baayd were the only two Salt Lake City School Board members to vote against a contract with PalAmerican that would result in weapon detectors being installed at East, West and Highland high schools as well as Horizonte Instruction and Training Center for a one-year trial period.

"I oppose it because the data shows that this type of hardening offers virtually zero protection against school-based violence," Anderson said during the meeting, "but what I'm even more worried about is the body of public health and police deescalation research that shows unsworn officers ... risk the escalation of violence, specifically for people of color."

PalAmerican's website states, however, that their officers receive more training than those at other companies, including lessons on education and minor-specific circumstances.

Baayd drew attention to the process itself, suggesting that "walking through a weapon detector is emotionally exhausting."

"I'm thinking about the minority kids who come from the refugee world, from places of war," he added. "They would have to walk in through this and if it beeps, it's a nightmare. I don't know how to explain it to you."

District spokeswoman Yándary Chatwin attempted to quash those fears by explaining that, "the only reason that a student will be stopped is if the machine beeps ... independent of what the student looks like, who they are, what gender, what race or ethnicity."

"In terms of students being targeted more from a particular demographic over another," she added, "that won't happen because it's an objective beep machine that'll be the cause for a stop of any student."

The machines will be switched on when students return from fall break, however, a series of open houses are planned so parents can get a glimpse of the technology beforehand.
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