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TX school adds AR-15s, facial recognition technology to security plan

AR-15. (Michael Guio/Flickr)
February 28, 2019

A Texas school district has added security upgrades in the form of guns and tracking technologies to make sure their students and faculty are safe.

Rodney Cavness, superintendent of schools for the Texas City Independent School District added employed security guards armed with AR-15s, student tracking chips, and facial recognition technology in an effort to “become the safest school system in the nation,” Fox News reported.

Cavness said, “We’re not playing around. This isn’t some kind of little game to us. We put a lot of time, money, and effort into this.”

The planning for this security measure, which was conceived by former Secret Service agent Mike Matranga, followed days after the mass shooting at neighboring Santa Fe High School which left 10 dead in 2018. Santa Fe is located just minutes away from Texas City.

“I think we’re living in a sick society, and there are some very deeply troubled people out there that want to do harm to kids and to campuses and to teachers, and we’re not going to let that happen,” said Cavness.

The district has been slowly executing certain measures. “What we’re trying to do is buy time, and by buying time and by having a deputy on campus or multiple deputies on campus, that time allows our deputies to respond and do their job,” Matranga said.

Each deputy within the school district will have access to an AR-15 that will be in a locked safe and only accessible by using a specific code.

Matranga said, “These are the weapons we purchased for our deputies. I’m a firm believer that we fight firepower with superior firepower.”

“It’s not about the camera system. It’s not about the electronic locks. Though we’re doing that, it’s about investing in people, and that’s the key,” Matranga noted.

In May, voters approved “a $6.5 million bond for safety and security measures,” Fox News stated.

Parents in the district favor the decision.

Parent Justin Graves said, “I would vote for anything in favor of protecting my children.”

Another parent, Trisha Jones said, “I’m in support of the security measures they implemented. It gives me a sense of security.”

Schools across the country have been attempting to amp up security measures in response to the number of school shootings.

President of National School and Security Services Ken Trump said about the security procedures, “This district seemed to gather a lot of attention because they put a whole lot of money in a short period of time.”

He is not fully convinced these efforts will work in the long run. He said, “The question isn’t really whether school safety is the top priority now, but six months down the road when the memories of Parkland fade, will there be the same investment not only in time and dollars but the people?”

Ed Scruggs, vice chair of Texas Gun Sense, said while he believes the new safety procedures will work, he also favors other preventative efforts that take place outside of a school setting.

Scruggs said, “More universal background checks on gun sales, better mental health, better background check system… if we can keep guns out of the hands of people that shouldn’t have them, we’re going to automatically be safer.”