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Weapons detection system put to test at a city school

“You never know the reason behind why somebody's trying to bring a weapon in the school"
Posted at 4:38 PM, Apr 26, 2023

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The Buffalo Public School District's new safety system was put to the test Tuesday at one of its schools.

The Evolv Weapons Detection system helps a school security officer at the Academy School #131 in north Buffalo find a gun in a student's backpack.

A safety expert says the security system worked to protect students and staff.

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This is the Evolv system used in Buffalo Public Schools.

“But at the end of the day the schools have a responsibility to do everything they can to ensure that weapons are not making their way through the front door,” declared Jeff Rinaldo, partner, Vista Security Group.  

A gun was found inside the school on St. Lawrence Avenue. The Academy School is an alternative school with more than 100 students in 7th through 12th grade.  

The Buffalo Public School District declined an on-camera interview, but referred me to a statement saying in part "during a routine backpack inspection", with the use of the Evolv Security System, "a school security officer found a gun in a student's backpack."

The city school district installed the new Evolv system just this past January in all school buildings. 

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Buffalo Public School District statement on gun found.

Rinaldo, who is also a former Buffalo Police captain, now with Vista security where some of his clients are school districts, tells me there is no doubt the weapons detection system worked.

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Jeff Rinaldo, partner, Vista Security Group.  

“You never know the reason behind why somebody's trying to bring a weapon into the school. It could be to cause harm to another student. It could be because they have their own safety concerns. It could be to just show off with it,” explained Rinaldo. “Any screening technology is a good idea because again, it's very difficult to have a limited number of staff conduct proper searches of what could be between 300 and 1000 students in a very short time period.”

Once the gun was found and confiscated at the school, the student ran off and the school was placed in a brief lockdown.  A Buffalo Police spokesperson tells me they are still looking for the student.

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Academy School #131 on St. Lawrence Avenue in north Buffalo.

When the school district demonstrated the Evolv system in January at International Prep School the district's Chief Operating Officer David Hills noted the importance of implementing the system in city school buildings.

“We have had some high profile incidents  — I can't speak about them — not only around our schools but in our community — our students and our families need to feel safe — they need to be safe,” stated Hills. 

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BPS security checked school bags back in January at International Prep to demonstrate the system.

“The resounding outcry now from parents is they want to ensure that there's some level of safety and security in every school regardless of where the district's located. Regardless, if it's a municipal school or private school, they want to see students have some level of safety and security,” Rinaldo replied. 
“There's a big push now for screening where it's appropriate. There's definitely a big push for providing armed security officers in the schools to deal with the threat that may arise, and I think that going forward, that's going to just be the norm.”