PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been two weeks since the students at Richneck Elementary in Newport News returned to school. Along with high-tech metal detectors, the division also purchased clear backpacks for each student as an added safety measure.

What started as a fashion accessory in the 1940s and 1950s evolved into a security measure in the late 1990s and early 2000s after the Columbine High School shooting. As acts of school violence continue to happen across the country, clear backpacks are becoming more common.

“When we talk about the clear backpack, the idea sounds good,” said Mo Canady, Executive Director of the National Association of School Resource Officers.

Canady is a retired Lieutenant of the Hoover Police Department in Alabama and spent the last 12 years of his 25-year career as a school resource officer.

“It’s one of those situations where is someone going to be monitoring what’s in those backpacks as students arrive at school. When you think about the number of things you might put in a backpack, a T-shirt, gym clothes, something like that can certainly and I’m not trying to give anyone ideas but can certainly conceal something within that clear backpack. We have to be careful to not create a false sense of security and to make sure that we’re willing as school staff to go to the next level if you see something suspicious in that clear backpack or if there are items you can’t see in that clear backpack that there has to be something or a policy about searching it,” Canady stated.

Canady tells 10 On Your Side transparent bookbags have their limitations.

“The durability of a clear, kind of vinyl backpack as compared to the very durable cloth backpack, there’s a big difference in that,” Canady explained.

Ultimately, Canady says the backpacks are a catch-22.

“I think that it can help the community, maybe parents feel a little bit better about things. Again, I still say there has to be additional measures. Things can still be concealed in there. You really have to take those extra steps to really make that a true safety initiative,” Canady concluded.

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