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Metro Nashville procrastinates implementing AI weapon detection system in schools

VIGIL system (Photo: FOX 17 News)
VIGIL system (Photo: FOX 17 News)
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A southern Kentucky school system is putting in an artificial intelligence weapon detection system.

Sound familiar? It is a similar system proposed for Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) almost two years ago.

Nashville is still talking while Christian County is acting.

Guns have been brought to MNPS schools by Nashville students. Weapons have been found at middle schools outside of Davidson County. Enough. Time to go to the next level of security.

“We feel like it’s our job, that you give us your most precious valuable thing you have, your kids," said Christian county Technology Director Jason Wilson. "And it’s our job to give them back to you at the end of the day safe and sound."

Christian County chose a system that works with artificial intelligence and lightning fast weapons detection.

Because of bid laws in Kentucky, they had to temporarily back off that vendor, but they know what they want.

“We went and witnessed a school that had about 1,000 kids come through a two lane weapons detection system in about 15 minutes," said Wilson. "And so it didn’t disrupt their flow of traffic. I believe now if you go to the Titans stadium or Nissan Stadium, or you go to Bridgestone, they have weapons detection now to allow a mass number of people through and it alerts and tells you that there’s a possible weapon."

The cost of that system is $810,000 for seven cameras that really jumps out when you look at what MNPS has been sitting on.

Nashville public schools owns 130 thermal cameras. The company vigil has offered three different upgrade options ranging from $38,000 to $590,000, from simply improving firmware to adding upgrades to a complete overhaul.

Christian County is willing to spend $810,000 on seven cameras in three schools to protect their kids.

MNPS had the opportunity to have weapons detection cameras in all 71 school for $590,000.

“If they were to buy brand new at full retail, you’re talking about $4 million," Vigil COO Jerry Wright.

"And you’ve got a proposal for 590,000 just waiting to answer your phone?" Dennis Ferrier questions.

"Yes sir," said Wright. "Or give me an RFP to respond too,"

In a recent email to FOX 17 News, MNPS said they want to upgrade their own security cameras and will put it to bid soon. But where is the announcement ? Where is the plan outline? Wouldn’t parents want to know this?

Is that the kind of announcement you make in an email to a weekend inquiry at FOX 17 News?

FOX 17 News pressed MNPS for more details. What is this plan to upgrade? What is the timeline? Will there be bids? Any idea what you are planning to spend?

All of a sudden there is a very concrete plan.

“We are proposing to contract on the upcoming board agenda provide an Omnilert gun detection add-on feature to our existing security camera system that will accomplish this goal," wrote MNPS spokesperson Sean Braisted.

The price is $628,000 up front, plus nearly a half million a year in monitoring.

Looks like VIGIL was never even considered.

“Like Paul’s plans actually were to upgrade them to the new EV 3 base, and at no cost at all above the base,” said Wright.

Christian County is not hesitating, They are ready to pay what they need to pay to do it right. They also plan to install the system as soon as spring break.

“I think if you looked at if we had one incident and lost one student, you can’t put a value on that compared to what we are spending to try to put this protection in place,” said Jason Wilson.

No one can find any evidence of this plan to upgrade the security cameras outside of a casual mention on Aug. 2. At best, Nashville public schools is not involving its stakeholders in big plans.

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