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FTC investigating company that makes JCPS’ new weapons detectors

A large scanner that reads "evolv" is in the entrance of a school building. A man is gesturing beside it.
Jess Clark
An Evolv representative demoed the equipment at Butler High School in May 2023.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is investigating Evolv over claims of deceptive marketing practices. The tech company makes the multimillion dollar weapons detectors Jefferson County Public Schools is installing.

Evolv disclosed the investigation in a filing last week saying the FTC “requested information about certain aspects of its marketing practices.”

The publicly traded company is facing claims that its artificial intelligence weapons detectors do not function as advertised. The FTC probe comes after security technology research firm IPVM revealed Evolv detects only 53% of knives. IPVM also found out that a report Evolv described as “fully independent” was actually an analysis Evolv paid for and that executives were allowed to edit.

In the wake of IPVM’s findings, several law firms announced they are pursuing possible lawsuits on behalf of investors.

LPM News reported on those claims in May as the Jefferson County Board of Education considered a contract to lease Evolv equipment, which is estimated to cost the district $17 million over five years. The board voted 6-1 to sign an $11.7 million two-year contract with an Evolv partner in July.

JCPS plans to have Evolv weapons detectors installed in the first round of high schools by the end of the month.

District officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the new FTC probe.

A spokesperson for the FTC declined to comment.

In a statement attributed to Evolv Vice President of Corporate Communications Alexandra Smith Ozerkis, the executive said the company is “pleased to answer” questions from the FTC, “as well as educate them about our mission to make communities safer and more secure.”

“The people who buy our technology are seasoned security professionals, many of whom conduct their own test of our system to ensure it works the way we say it does. The fact that they install our system after such rigorous testing and have embraced our technology should tell you that there is another side to the story,” Smith Ozerkis wrote.

Support for this story was provided in part by the Jewish Heritage Fund.

News Youth Reporting
Jess Clark is LPMs Education and Learning Reporter. Email Jess at jclark@lpm.org.

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