UA vets its bidding for metal detectors at athletic venues

Installation plans not yet disclosed

By: Jaime Adame
Published: Sunday, May 20, 2018
In this Thursday, May 28, 2015, photo, metal detectors stand at a gate at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Beginning June 1, 2015, metal detectors were used to check people attending events at the stadium. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
In this Thursday, May 28, 2015, photo, metal detectors stand at a gate at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Beginning June 1, 2015, metal detectors were used to check people attending events at the stadium. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

FAYETTEVILLE — Bids to supply metal detectors for possible use at University of Arkansas, Fayetteville athletic venues are being evaluated, but a UA spokesman declined to say whether a decision has been made to install the equipment.

The university in an online notice dated Wednesday announced to bidders that a “selection committee is in the process of evaluations.” The notice stated that once a determination is made, “the notice of Intent to Award will be posted.”

UA spokesman Kevin Trainor declined to answer questions about the bids, including how much money the university might spend on the equipment. Guns are prohibited at all UA athletic contest and event locations, as well as practice venues and intramural sports sites.

“We have no further updates at this time,” Trainor said in an email.

The notice to bidders comes a little over a year after UA published a request for proposals seeking metal detectors and also advice on installing the equipment to maximize security and “speed of entry” at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

In April 2017, Trainor said the request for bids was “not directly related to concealed carry in Arkansas,” referring to a March 2017 vote by lawmakers that expanded the concealed carry of handguns to public colleges and other public areas. Lawmakers later that year passed an additional law carving out a few exemptions, including for collegiate sporting event sites if the Arkansas State Police approves security plans for those venues.

The law also gave time for state police to develop training for the enhanced carry permit, so no enhanced permits were issued until about three months ago.

On Friday, Trainor said in an email that the university in February received approval from state police for security plans for 18 facilities, including Razorback Stadium, basketball venue Bud Walton Arena and baseball’s Baum Stadium.

Campus facilities with approved security plans include not only intercollegiate competition and practice facilities but the Jones Family Student-Athlete Success Center, primarily an academic support building for student-athletes, and the campus Health, Physical Education and Recreation Building, which is widely used for student recreation.

Other such areas include: the Fred W. Smith Center, which houses football offices, and the Agri Park, an 8-acre park with a lighted pavilion north of the main campus, according to Trainor.

The approvals are for a year, Trainor said. He declined to say whether the security plans involve metal detectors, noting that state law prohibits the public disclosure of security details.

“The legislature made clear the importance of preserving confidentiality related to security plan details by creating an express exemption to their disclosure in the acts,” Trainor said in an email. “It would obviously undermine the intent of the security plan exemption if public officials are permitted to verbally disclose those details.”

The University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa in November tested metal detectors at a home football game. Monica Watts, the University of Alabama’s associate vice president for communications, did not respond to an email and voice message Friday asking whether metal detectors would be used by the school this fall.

War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, which hosts some Razorback football games, is considered a firearms-sensitive area, said Meg Matthews, a spokesman with Arkansas State Parks. She did not respond Friday to a question about whether metal detectors are planned for the stadium.

Kansas State University in 2017 paid about $382,000 for metal detectors and related equipment, Casey Scott, an executive associate athletic director for the school, said last year.

State Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, said in a phone interview that lawmakers “specifically in the law did not require metal detectors.”

Collins said a decision on whether to install the equipment is “the university’s business,” adding that “I’m sure they’re making all of their decisions based on facts and costs and benefits.”

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