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Weapon detection system for Portland Public Schools tested at McDaniel football game

The district said it may implement a pilot program for the technology depending on feedback from the one-time security screen demonstration.

PORTLAND, Ore. — It took a little longer than usual to get into the football game at McDaniel High School Friday night, because everyone lining up outside to attend the match against Lincoln had to walk through two Opengate Pillars. It's a system used to detect weapons, particularly firearms, and Portland Public Schools deployed it for a test run at Friday's game.

“We're looking for what we consider mass casualty threats, so we're not looking for the Swiss army knife,” said Tom McDermott with CEIA, the company that manufactures the security system.

Last year, police responded to two shootings outside Jefferson High School, one outside Franklin and another outside Cleveland. The district's Safety and Security Task Force presented several recommendations in response, including testing a weapons screening system.

“What we hope happens first is that people know that we're doing it as a deterrent,” said PPS Director of Athletics Marshall Haskins.

Haskins said feedback the district gets from the test run will play a big part in deciding how to move forward. He hopes it’s clear to parents and students why PPS officials are considering the system.

RELATED: Portland Public Schools will test out weapon detection system at McDaniel football game

“We're not saying kids are criminals because you're coming to a game,” said Haskins. “We're saying we want you to come to the game and feel safe.”

Many parents at the game gave the test run positive reviews.

“I'm really comfortable with it,” said McDaniel mom Tina Abich. “When we go into other events, we have to go through other things, so we just adjust with the times.”

“It was kind of like going to a Blazers game, but a little lower-key,” said McDaniel dad Andrew DuBrock.

The majority of students agreed.

“It's kind of a normal thing now, keeps me safe,” said Latti, a McDaniel junior. “Especially with a lot of crazy things going on, so I don't mind it."

Depending on the feedback and if the district likes how the system performs, officials may consider creating a pilot program. The district said that option would mean setting up weapons screenings at more sporting events, and possibly at more schools.

According to McDermott, the weapon detectors retail for around $17,000, though the one used during Friday’s game was loaned out for free for the demonstration. Haskins said if the district moves forward with a pilot program and beyond, officials will meet with the board and superintendent to plan how to implement it.  

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