Leon County Schools announces metal detectors for all high school football games

Tallahassee Democrat | By Liam Rooney | September 13, 2023

Leon County Schools announced Wednesday it will now require fans attending high school football games to pass through metal detection devices starting on Friday, Sep. 15.

Addition of metal detectors, announced on social media, are the highlight of new security measures the district implemented following a night of fights and chaos at Gene Cox Stadium last month.

The devices used will be a combination of the standard walk-through metal detector that you would see at a professional sporting event and a metal detection wand.

Leon County Schools spokesperson Chris Petley said the county will be ordering new walk-through systems so every school hosting a game has one. The county currently only has one available. The cost of the metal detectors was not immediately available.

There are two LCS home football games this week, one at Lincoln High School and the other at Gene Cox Stadium. The walkthrough device will be at Gene Cox alongside the detection wands, while there will be detection wands only at Lincoln.

Violence across the country has plagued high school football this season, with multiple incidents of violence, gun-related arrests and more taking place across the country, including two incidents at Gene Cox Stadium in the first month of the Leon County football season.

“Every weekend you’re seeing a national story of a shooting taking place at a high school football game,” Petely said. “While that has thankfully not happened here locally, we didn’t want to wait till it was too late.”

Along with the metal detectors, the district announced:

  • No Backpacks: Students and fans are not permitted to bring backpacks into any LCS stadium. Diaper bags and purses are allowed, but safety officers will ask them to be opened at the gate upon entry.”
  • No Loitering or Standing Around: The best way to enjoy the game is from your seat. Administrators and law enforcement officers will politely remind any groups of fans standing around to return to their seats. If there are instances of non-compliance, attendees will be asked to leave the event.”
  • Home and Away Bleacher restrictions: There is no walking between home and away bleachers. There are restrooms and concessions on both sides of the field. LCS administrators will be stationed at the midway point to help remind attendees to stay on their school’s respective side.”
Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna holds up a handheld metal detector at a press conference at the district's safety and security portable on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022.

Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna holds up a handheld metal detector at a press conference at thte districst’s safety and security portable on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. Ana Goñi-Lessan

The announcement comes nearly a month after LCS Superintendent Rocky Hanna vowed he would beef up security at county football games following a fight breaking out at the Leon vs Rickards Kickoff Classic game on Aug. 18.

Due to the fight and the rumors of a gun being involved, panic engulfed the stadium, the game was canceled and two teenagers were arrested.

The weapon was later found to be an airsoft gun, which is a replica toy gun that shoots out small pellets.

Another airsoft gun-related incident took place on Friday, Sep. 9. Leon County Sheriffs arrested a man with an airsoft gun trying to gain entry to the football game between Godby and Cairo, Georgia.

In its social media post, the school district said “Student athletic events are a major part of the high school experience in our community. Together we can keep the excitement, traditions and pageantry safe and enjoyable.”

“It was a combination of seeing what’s going on around the country, and then the uptick in weapons that we’ve identified over the last couple of weeks at the stadium, or around games,” Petley said about the decision to add metal detection. “We want to continue to be as proactive as possible to keep our students and our spectators safe.”

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