BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Director of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library John Spears said he’s trying to keep up with the reality of safety in the year 2023.
After brawls of 30 teens started breaking out earlier this year, he slashed downtown Buffalo’s Central Library’s hours for two weeks to figure out what to do, Spears decided to bring in the Peacemakers to calm everything down and restored normal hours.
“We want people to feel safer and I think that is an important part of it. but, that feeling is based on reality — this will make a safer environment for the library,” said Spears. “The library now versus before that is one that I think is much more welcoming to everybody.”
But, after talking with the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, Spears decided it was time for a weapons detection system.
“This is the type of system where people do not have to remove phones, laptops, or keys from their pockets or their bags,” added Spears. “They will just walk through and then the system will detect whether there’s something that shouldn’t be there and it will flag it for the staff. And then we would engage in another type of search after that.”
The technology is made by the company Evolv.
Identical systems are in use at Buffalo Public Schools.
The detectors are expected to go up at all three public entrances in the coming months.
Erie County plans to foot the half-a-million-dollar bill through its year-end surplus.
“It is the reality, unfortunately of the world we live in,” said Spears. “But, what I’m grateful for right now is that we have a technology that is going to allow us to address that in ways that couldn’t be done in the past.”
Library regular Austin Carter welcomes the change.
“It’s like okay, no weapons, cool,” Austin said. “Security actually paying attention, and more cameras, so forth, I think it would be a great idea.”
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Patrick Ryan is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.