DETROIT (WXYZ) — The Detroit City Council says investing in public safety is a top priority for block parties and large gatherings. It’s part of the reason they are spending more than a $1 million on new technology.
They’re crowd-sized metal detectors able to conduct full body scans for guns and knives at major events like the Detroit fireworks, auto show and more. It’s all monitored by Detroit police.
Parents of 2-year-old Maximus Jones, Carlos and Tiffany, are among those responding to council spending $1.3 million for them.
“Any type of protection is the best protection,” Carlos Jones said.
“It makes it more convenient, probably faster process, hopefully. I think it’s a good idea,” Tiffany Jones added.
Passed by a 7-2 vote, the detectors differ from traditional machines that require you to empty your pockets.
“I’m scared to come downtown, because I think something is going to happen. I’d feel safer going to events,” Detroiter Shaun Waldrip said.
Councilman Coleman Young Jr. says they’re well worth the price tag.
“This is about saving lives,” he said. “How many fathers have buried their children? How many mothers have buried their daughters? As much as we have to spend to save a life is what this is all about.”
The Detroit Police Department shared videos of the metal detectors with 7 Action News and prior to that with council before they made the vote.
They tell us Massachusetts-based Evolv Express beat other companies competing for the contract. This technology is supported by the Detroit branch of the NAACP and other local leaders.
“We look for our first deployment at this upcoming fireworks. Certainly being mindful of constitutionality in everything that we do,” Detroit Police Department Deputy Chief Franklin Hayes said.
While none of the citizens spoke with were opposed to the machines, council has made it clear this is only part of a solution to address gun violence.
“It might not be perfect, and there’s some things we need to work on ... there’s only 10 of them that they have now. This is something that ... it's really going to be not a police asset, but a citizens' asset,” Coleman said. “You can use this at block parties, you can use this in clubs, you can use this at events.”
The city says they hope to have all the high-tech detectors in place in 10 to 15 days, with plan to pursue grant funding to purchase more.