Metal Detectors Help Keep School and University Events Safe

Metal detectors help to enhance a layered security approach on campuses

For any school system looking to expand or enhance their safety measures, metal detectors offer one line of defense for deterring weapons and other threatening objects from entering school buildings and campus athletic/special event facilities.

The use of metal detectors has steadily increased in recent years as security threats evolve in a variety of areas, including professional sporting events. Walk-through metal detectors are an ideal choice for school security because they have extremely high performance in terms of detection capability and transit flow. Potential threat objects are quickly and accurately detected while non-threatening personal effects do not cause an alarm.

The compact design of the detector, along with optional wheel kits that conform to the strict UL 1678 Standards, allow them to be easily transported when needed and rapidly assembled at the checkpoint. Weatherproof versions of the detectors are also available for outdoor applications.

As a complement to the use of walk-through metal detectors (WTMD), hand-held metal detectors (HHMD) are used for secondary screening. As a person transiting the walk-through metal detector triggers an alarm, they are quickly moved aside where security uses a hand-held metal detector to pinpoint the object in question without having to physically touch them.


There have been many misconceptions discussed about metal detectors in these environments. Common myths include:

Myth: Metal Detectors severely slow down the entrance time to our school.

Reality: WTMDs themselves screen an individual in seconds. Overall, security screening should be simple, fast and highly effective every time. One consideration is how to achieve the maximum throughput of individuals given by the lowest nuisance alarm rate (NAR). You certainly do not want security personnel to be distracted by false alarms for non-threat items. Referred to as discrimination, this is the ability for the WTMD to recognize or alarm for threat items such as guns and knives, while ignoring or not alarming for non-threat items including belts, watches, coins and keys. WTMDs are known for their leading-edge discrimination capability and lowest NAR rates in the industry overall, which translate to high throughput and fast entry for students.

Myth: HHMDs alone are easier to implement and just as effective as WTMDs.

Reality: WTMDs combined with HHMDs provide a faster, more accurate and less intrusive than hand-held screening alone resulting in an overall better experience for students and staff. With HHMD alone, screening consistency and accuracy can vary among individual screeners. HHMD screening is very labor intensive and can be very burdensome when screening large numbers of individuals. WTMDs provide a consistent screening of individuals across one or more checkpoints.

Myth: All WTMDs are the same so price is the only important factor in the selection process.

Reality: Key factors to consider when purchasing metal detectors include safety, ease of use, and customer references.

  • Safety. How safe are the metal detectors? Instead of relying on general statements, look for third party certifications for metal detector testing that meet health and safety regulations. CEIA MDs are compliant with applicable human exposure standards such as IEEE C95 (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers standards relating to RF radiation). In addition, CEIA walk-through and hand-held MDs are SAFETY ACT certified from the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Ease of Use. How easy are they to deploy and operate? This is important in terms of general use and security staff training. Customers have found this to be one of the keys to their security operations. Metal detectors are very user-friendly and allow staff to gain a basic working knowledge very quickly, so they can focus on security procedures and not the MD equipment.
  • References. Who else is using them? CEIA USA has many customers that have researched and implemented these solutions with their reference information available upon request.

The safety of students, staff, and visitors depend on the quality of the security measures and technology provided at these checkpoints. Utilizing metal detectors will speed up screening, help dramatically improve safety, provide peace of mind, and ensure students are kept secure.

This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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