Company behind weapons detectors in Salt Lake high schools facing federal investigation

Oct 17, 2023, 9:00 PM

Weapon detector company facing federal investigation, four high schools in Salt Lake County Distric...

Weapon detector company facing federal investigation, four high schools in Salt Lake County District utilize the machines. (Aimee Cobabe/KSL NewsRadio)

(Aimee Cobabe/KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City School District has new weapons detectors inside their four high schools. Tuesday was the first day with the machines at the doors.

But now Evolv, the company that makes the machines, is facing a federal investigation alleging they aren’t as effective as advertised. A spokesperson for the school district told KSL Newsradio the board approved a four-year $1.56 million dollar lease of the machines.

“If we see that this tool is effective, we may choose to continue working with them further,” said Salt Lake City District Spokesperson Yándary Chatwin in an email to KSL NewsRadio. “If we see that maybe it doesn’t make sense to continue, then the lease gives us some flexibility at the end of the four-year lease period.”

Weapons detectors spark concern

Former Unified Police Chief Chris Bertram said this is concerning. 

“I’ve seen this in law enforcement and other practices. Where somebody has come out with a great technology that sounds like it’s going to be awesome.

“And we implement it and we find out that it definitely undersells,” Bertram said. “And that is concerning to me, because when we spend the public’s money, we have to be diligent in that.” 

The machines use artificial intelligence to identify weapons. So instead of a traditional metal detector, this will let students walk in like normal. Without having to form a single file line. 

“We do not anticipate long back-ups like with the metal detectors at airport security, where people need to remove many items from their bags, pockets, etc,” Chatwin said. 

The detectors also require security guards to step in if the detectors flag anything. 

“We will have two security personnel at each entrance. With one additional “roving” security staffer to support where needed,” according to Chatwin.

On Tuesday, students at West High School said that after one day’s use, they were positive about the experience. 

“Past years, there’s been bomb threats. There have been gun threats. But I feel like our administration has been doing really well with keeping us safe,” said Soe Koko, a senior at West High School.

Related reading: 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Education + Schools

Image of an outdoor light post at Glendale Middle School, one of several schools in the Salt Lake C...

Adam Small

Copper wire stolen from Salt Lake City schools

Liberty, Rose Park, and Parkview Elementary Schools, along with Hillside and Glendale Middle School have all experienced copper wiring theft.

24 hours ago

Leslie Edwards made a big jump from newsrooms to classrooms....

Amanda Dickson

Meet Utah teacher Leslie Edwards and hear why she left journalism for education

Leslie Edwards left the news industry to teach. From Saudi Arabia to Salt Lake City, learn more about why she ended up teaching third grade.

1 day ago

How Utah schools handle inversion...

Allessandra Harris

How Utah schools keep kids safe during inversion season

An inversion is expected this week across the Wasatch Front. Utah schools say they will keep students inside if the air quality gets bad.

1 day ago

a woman sits with her son at a computer...

Don Brinkerhoff

Tutoring may be a ‘good way’ artificial intelligence can help us

As with most things involving artificial intelligence, AI tutoring would begin with a human evaluating what a student already knows.

2 days ago

Space X Starship launch is a step in the right direction as far as a BYU professor, with dreams of ...

Dale Spaulding

BYU professor hopeful for space project, despite SpaceX failure

Dr. Jani Radebaugh is part of a BYU space project group developing a specially designed quadcopter intended for Saturn's moon, Titan.

7 days ago

A mural on the outer wall of The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City. A speech bubble reads "...

Mariah Maynes

Bringing literacy to the Utah book desert

The entire state of Utah is considered a book desert, but some groups are impacted more than others. A Salt Lake City Bookshop and nonprofit are working to change that.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

Company behind weapons detectors in Salt Lake high schools facing federal investigation