SANTA FE

The Santa Fe Independent School District is suddenly finding itself with a surplus of donated metal detectors after a shooting at its high school that left 10 people dead and wounded more than a dozen others. But it’s not clear whether the district plans to make metal detectors a part of its upgraded security strategy.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced on Monday he would donate up to 10 metal detectors — a gift worth about $30,000 — to the school district to help “update the security of its entryways,” he said.

Immediately after the the shooting, Patrick said schools should do more to secure their entryways.

“On the day of shooting in Santa Fe, I made securing the entrances and exits to our schools a top priority,” Patrick said. “Santa Fe parents have asked for immediate action to the entrances to their schools and I want to make sure that if the Santa Fe ISD School Board wants to install metal detectors, they can do.”

Whether the school district installs the devices at the entrances at any of its schools is still undecided. On Monday afternoon, the school district thanked Patrick for his “generous offer,” but said it had not decided about the use of metal detectors.

Patrick’s offer, which he said was being made in partnership with Garland-based Garrett Metal Detectors, is at least the second offer of free metal detectors organizations have made to the district.

Steve Novakovich, the CEO of Garrett Metal Detectors, said his company was motivated to make the donation because its founder, Eleanor Garrett was a former Texas school teacher.

“We have a heart for the kids and their safety,” Novakovich said.

The company first contacted the Santa Fe school district last week, he said. The school district hasn’t responded, he said.

The company provides security consulting to customers around the world, including at this year’s World Cup in Russia, he said.

Reviewing security plans isn’t always a quick process and he wasn’t surprised the district didn’t immediately answer, he said.

“It may not be a simple decision,” Novakovich said. “We’re going to stay in a holding pattern until we hear from them.”

Another company, American Guard Services, also has offered to donate six metal detectors to the district.

On Monday, American Guard Services, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, had not heard back from the school district about its offer, said Keith Dove, the company’s director of compliance and quality control.

“If they accept it, we’ll be more than happy to provide it,” Dove said. “It’s still available, it’s just a matter of we can’t do anything without their permission.”

The six metal detectors are valued at around $24,000, Dove said.

American Guard Services made the offer because some of its employees live in Santa Fe, Dove said. The company provides some security at the Port of Galveston.

After the May 18 shooting, American Guard Services also provided security guards to the Santa Fe Independent School District on the final two days of classes, Dove said.

That decision will come after the district’s recently formed safety committee makes security recommendations to the district’s board of trustees. The committee will next meet on July 12, when it’s expected to finalize its first recommendations.

“The installation of metal detectors will require an assessment of the schools to determine the equipment and training recommended to operate metal detectors,” the district said.

If the district accepts the offers, the metal detectors could be installed before the start of school in August, the district said.

Some Santa Fe parents have said they’re frustrated the district hasn’t yet accepted the metal detectors, devices they say could help prevent people from taking weapons into schools.

Few district officials have said they are against the installation of metal detectors, but accepting the devices would come with costs, officials have said. To be effective, the detectors need to be monitored by employees at whatever entrance they’re installed.

The district already has decided to expand the size of its security force by adding five new police officers and five new security guards.

In announcing the donation on Monday, Patrick also pledged to advance legislation that would create a matching fund for other schools that want to install metal detectors or use wands to screen people entering the school.

“We know we need a comprehensive plan to secure our schools statewide and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy,” Patrick said. “Each district will decide what’s best for them.”

Patrick also pledged funding for new emergency exit doors that lock from the outside, and to provide more funding for the Texas School Marshal program, which allows school staff members to arm themselves with guns after being trained.

A Texas Senate committee on school safety created by Patrick after the Santa Fe shooting is expected to produce a report with more possible legislative changes by the end of July, Patrick said.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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(27) comments

Stephanie Martin

Seriously? You're not sure if you will take them?

Carol Mitchell

If the board doesn't approve this, then it's time to vote them out and elect folks who are interested in making our schools safer!

Rusty Schroeder

One would think this is a no-brainer and would be a positive model for other schools to copy for future installations. But this SFISD, closed door meetings and a Security Council to decide what they think is best. I would like to know which law firm is advising them and the costs associated. This is the same school board that held an open board seat application, then decided in a closed door session to appoint a board member without any interviews. So it is what it is, no telling what to expect from them. You would think assistance at no costs from the Lt. Governor would be a win-win situation, we shall see.

Gary Scoggin

If you listened to the testimony of new TCISD Security Head Mike Matranga, you heard him say that metal detectors aren't necessarily the solution, They are expensive to operate (labor) and will act to back students up outside waiting to get in. This creates an even softer, bigger target for an evil doer.

Rusty Schroeder

It makes everyone enter a designated entrance, so what if it kids have to stand in line and are a little inconvenienced. I guarantee you there are 10 families that wouldn't mind a little inconvenience right now over their loved ones gunned down in cold blood. Don't even talk about $$$ being a factor, SFISD has gotten more $$$ donated in the last 2 months through private and government donations to well exceed the costs of operation.

Gary Scoggin

From a security aspect, the problem is that the kids waiting outside to get in are a much softer target than kids in classrooms. Metal detectors could cause a bigger security threat than they solve. We have got to think through the unintended consequences of knee jerk solutions.

MrsLois Lane

There are many things to be considered, including that I’ve heard from several reliable sources that the high school is pre-wired for alternate alarm to indicate it’s an intruder alarm vs fire drill. IMO, that one alarm that was pulled didn’t signal the correct response for the event. Flooding the halls & grounds could have put more students at risk than a student possibly waiting less than a minute to clear the devices. It might be wise for the district to present a demonstration of the machines in action to the community. That, or any other research they’ve done. Mr Kelly should be able to provide a great presentation of how metal detector work.

Carlos Ponce

Parents just want a panacea. A free metal detector will make them happy.

Rusty Schroeder

Carlos, too bad you live in Hitchcock, you could run or be appointed to the school board,,,,,you would fit right in.

Carlos Ponce

I don't live in Hitchcock. I live in unincorporated Galveston County. I've had former students serve on the SF and Hitchcock School Boards though. You had a terrific board member in the past, John Couch, a classmate of mine.

Jose' Boix

Tools are ineffective unless there is a process and system to back them up; along with a commitment from Staff, Trustees and community to enforce the rules defined for the new tools. To date, I have seen little such commitment. We must also commit to do what is right in spite of the looming threats of lawsuits. Just my thoughts.

JR Anderson

Unfortunately I have seen that Santa Fe School Board member Patrick Kelly is against metal detectors. He also happens to be on the safety committee. If he has it his way they will never get installed. Many many parents in the community want them as a added layer of security but they don’t get a say in this. We are running out of time! School starts back next month! Is the school really going to turn these down? What a slap in the face that would be to the Lt Governor!

MrsLois Lane

I believe this is an example of the hostility displayed by Mr Kelly toward the community who do want to accept all of the metal detectors that have been donated to the district thus far. We have several campuses to protect besides the high school. He does understand, I sincerely hope, that the devices are but one layer of a multilayered system being planned. Maybe he should calm down & actually listen to the community instead of displaying bias & shaming those who don’t agree with him and, coincidentally, those who do. I quote from one of his social media posts, “These metal detector companies are leading a movement to install metal detectors in all schools and its absolutely absurd and grotesque to watch them profit off of a grieving community. And you all are falling for it. Metal detectors will waste precious money school districts do not have and install a false sense of security. Shame on all of you that do not want them and are staying silent.” P Kelly SFISD School Board Trustee.
Just what are we all “falling for” besides a step toward keeping the students as safe as humanly possible? I’d suggest cooler heads prevail & proceed to step number one of whatever the selected plan is well before August 21st or I believe the district will witness more empty classroom seats than have been rumored.

George Croix

Inertia.
Always inertia.

I remember an Operations judgement call I made sometime around 2004 in the face of imminent danger to the whole facility that resulted in no harm done to people or equipment, and the securing of the dnger, but set the heads of hair on fire for several people on the unit, my boss, his boss, their bosses...and for all I know, on up to the White House...because the call was not...not...according to the Op. Manual or established procedure, but was based on conditions at hand, at that moment.
The problem was the 'Leadership' discouraged independent thinking, preferring that 'experts' make all decisions and procedures.
An investigation was started. Memory serving, about 2 dozen people altogether were involved for over 2 weeks discussing and analyzing and root causung and what if'ing and so on.
At the end, I was informed that they had determined I DID make the right call.
I thanked them, and reminded them I had a couple minutes to make it, by myself, not a team of two dozen advisors and two weeks.

The point?
Waiting for every detail to be perfect and every voice to weigh in can...can....have very bad consequences.

Come to think of it, that has already happened........

Steve Fouga

OF COURSE the metal detector companies hope to make a profit from selling their products to schools, as well they should! They see a business opportunity, and they're making the best of it.

Accept the metal detectors, design a comprehensive security program making use of them, and move on.

Gary Scoggin

How about design the plan first and if there’s a role for metal detectors, accept the offer.

Jose' Boix

Let rational thinking prevail, something that seems missing!

George Croix

In what way, Jose'.
One man's rational is anothers panic.
Please expand.'

Jose' Boix

George: I am in agreement with Gary. Let's define the plan, then get the parts and tools the plan requires. Just like any project; design what's best, estimate cost and time, tweak and implement. That is my rational thinking.

George Croix

That's fine, Jose'.
To define a plan one has to consider all the known parameters and limitations.
Has anyone said that should not be done?
No.
So, I fail to see any disconnect or cross purposes, unless it's believed that only a pro can think rationally....


Steve Fouga

Gary, normally that's what I would recommend.

Hopefully there is already be a trade study underway, with cost, risk, and effectiveness as figures of merit. Independent variables should be the types of measures: metal detectors, dogs, armed teachers, locks, architecture, LEOs, etc.

If they really, really have the time to execute a proper study, then fine, take the time and do it right. If they have to put something in place quickly, like by start of classes, I say take the metal detectors because I bet they end up being part of the ultimate solution anyway.

George Croix

To determine whether a person is carrying a metallic weapon (firearm, knife, pipe bomb, brass knucks, whatever...) secreted on their person, that person must either be dumb enough to tell somebody he has one or be outed by another with knowledge of it, must be personally and thoroughly searched top to bottom by someone in authority, or must go through a metal detector or body scanner.
Does anyone, professional or not, know of any other method?

Any plan has to decide what the goal is to be able to design a plan to meet the goal.
Is the goal is to keep unauthorized weapons outside of the buildings in the first place.
Is the goal to detect/react to a threat by a bad guy inside the building with a weapon, and at that point minimize damage.
Are there any other places besides inside or outside that anyone knows of?

With the prevention, interception, and location options limited by the realities of, well, reality, the security plan for each facility will boil down to three primary factors. Costs (new or mods to infrastructure and equipment, and personnel salaries), level of inconvenience acceptable to students/staff/parents, and potential for plan success balanced against #1 and #2.
A fourth item in the boiling pot will be the willingness of whomever does the deciding to take the consequences of the considerable antagonism he/she is almost certain to get from anyone who doesn't like the end plan.

We'll see what happens......

Gary Scoggin

How many entrances to a school are you willing to have open, how many dtaff members you are willing to hire to man them and how long you want kids to wait in line every day? Answer these questions first and then figure out how metal detectors fit into your protection strategy. Advocating metal detectors as a solution without these answers is just whistling in the wind.

George Croix

Those are decisions best answered by the people who will be using them. Which they cannot do until the answers to the questions I posed are answered by the Deciders.
I asked if anyone knows ANY other way to detect metallic objects hidden on someone other than the three ways I posted. You then turn that into advocating for metal detectors.
Do YOU know another way besides those three to keep the weapons outside?
If so, what is it?
Ratting our, freaking, or some detector or scanner.
What do YOU advocate for?
Keep the problem outside or deal with it inside.
Is there some other way?
If it makes you feel better to yank at my whiskers rather than address the realities, the same ones the experts will tell you must be faced, then go ahead. I don’t care cause I shaved this morning.
I ADVOCATE for no more hurt kids and staff.
Just as the others involved do.


Gary Scoggin

I'm not yanking whiskers. Maybe profiling with an appropriate dress code and frisking as needed is effective enough. I don't know. I know it wouldn't create a massive soft target at the front door and disrupt the beginning of every school day. Mayber there are other measures that security professionals are more aware of? There are people who do this stuff for a living. TCISD just hired one. Let's let them do there job and not jump on the first offer that comes along.

I'm not an expert, I just play one on the Internet.

George Croix

Maybe it is.....
Don't have to BE an expert or do anything but live for a living to know that when it comes to a building there are two options: outside, and inside. One (or both) of those places WILL be in play in any security plan.
Those hired experts already know that, and it cannot hurt for the staff and students and their parents to think about it, too. One never knows where a good idea will come from, and a framed certificate of achievement on the wall or a long resume does not negate that.
I personally like profiling a lot as a useful tool and think no security or law enforcement plan should exclude it...it's a good thing to recognize likely sources of problems and give them extra attention...an expansion on see something, say something. Unlike the TSA's 'random' searches, use the profiling to conduct searches where the profiles lead....

George Croix

Freaking?
Frisking....
Not close enough

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