December 1, 2005
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer
Word that security guards were using metal detectors for the first time spread quickly at Bulkeley High School Wednesday morning, prompting students with knives - or box cutters, cigarette lighters or other contraband - to ditch them outside.
The guards anticipated this, and made a sweep of the grounds after checking the pockets and backpacks of the school's 1,600 students, said Eric Crawford, school district violence prevention specialist.
We found knives, cigarette lighters and a few box cutters," Crawford said. "It was a pretty good seizure.
Principal Miriam Morales-Taylor said the combination of metal detectors and a new initiative in which police officers are giving students $103 tickets for cursing should improve the school's climate.
We're trying to set a tone in the school. I want students to know that I want them to be safe. ... I guarantee you it's going to make a difference," she said.
With Wednesday's search, Bulkeley, Hartford's largest high school, became the third to screen students with hand-held metal detectors as they arrive in the morning.
A few weeks ago, Hartford Public High School started metal detector use, and, in the next few weeks, Fox, Quirk and Bellizzi middle schools will begin their use to search students for weapons, Crawford said.
Weaver High School has been using metal detectors for two years.
The city's magnet and elementary schools have not reported problems with weapons, Crawford said, so there are no plans to use metal detectors at them.
The new measures are not in response to an increase in violence. Rather, they are designed to decrease the existing level of fights and disruptions in classes.
To cut down on fights and on the number of times students pull fire alarms to get out of class, the high schools have installed hallway cameras. They have helped, Crawford said. Now security officials are considering stairway cameras.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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