BAL HARBOUR, FLA. (WSVN) – A South Florida Jewish Community Center is trying out a hi-tech safety system that could detect dangerous weapons on visitors before they enter the building.
Across the country, threats to JCCs have seen an increase in recent months, including many in South Florida. Just last week, the David Posnack JCC in Davie had to be evacuated because of a bomb threat. Earlier this month, swastikas were carved into several parked cars in Miami Beach.
So when a company approached the staff at the Shul of Bal Harbour with the offer to test a new security system, they jumped at the opportunity.
“I’d say there is more of a threat than we had 10 years ago or even five years ago,” said Bill, who runs security for the Shul of Bal Harbour and asked 7News not to use his last name.
The weapon detection system, called Patriot One, can identify hidden weapons on people before they walk into a building.
The system is installed in walls or above ceiling tiles at the entrances of schools, businesses or government buildings, where visitors can’t see it. The system doesn’t just detect metal, Patriot One CEO Martin Cronin said, but discerns between non-threatening metals and threatening ones.
“It doesn’t just detect the presence of metal — it knows what a cellphone looks like, it knows what belt buckles are — it ignores those things,” he said. “It is just looking for threats.”
Cronin is one of the creators of the system. He said once a person passes by the unseen radar, it creates an image. If it detects a gun or knife, it alerts the user immediately.
“You could link it to access controls or lock doors or lock elevators, etc.,” Cronin said. “It’s really about controlling access and keeping weapons out of places where they shouldn’t be.”
Cronin said he doesn’t expect the system to replace traditional security measures like surveillance cameras, security guards or metal detectors.
“It’s putting a tool in their hands which can provide really valuable information ahead of a threat being executed,” he said, “and that’s really what it’s all about.”
The device costs about $10,000 per unit. But, Bill said, you can’t put a price on safety.
“I think members here at the shul understand that the heightened security is worth it to make sure everybody is safe,” Bill said.
The company is putting the system through a few trials before it goes on sale this fall.