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JCPS weapons detection manufacturer subject of second federal investigation

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 tech company Evolv announced it is the subject of an inquiry by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company that manufactures the multimillion-dollar weapons detectors used in Jefferson County Public Schools is facing a second federal investigation. Evolv disclosed Monday that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission opened a “non-public, fact-finding inquiry” into the company.

“[Evolv] notes the SEC’s explicit guidance that the investigation ‘should neither be construed as an indication by the Commission or its staff that any violation of law has occurred, nor as a reflection upon any person, entity, or security.’ [Evolv] is eager to cooperate with the SEC as it is with any regulatory body,” a press release from Evolv reads.

The SEC investigation follows the opening of an investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over allegations Evolv uses deceptive marketing practices.

Evolv did not provide detail on why the SEC is probing the company, and a spokesperson for the SEC declined to comment.

The publicly-traded company says its scanners use artificial intelligence to recognize concealed weapons and distinguish them from harmless metal objects like phones and keys. But Evolv is fending off claims that its technology does not work as seamlessly as advertised.

The company is also facing a lawsuit from a student in New York who says he was stabbed when his classmate got a knife through an Evolv scanner.

The Jefferson County Board of Education signed a deal with an Evolv seller that’s anticipated to cost taxpayers $17 million over five years. Several companies bid on the contract with similar technology at a fraction of Evolv’s price point. One competitor complained that the district’s request for proposal was unfairly written for Evolv.

JCPS staff originally planned to have scanners in all high schools by the end of this school year and all middle schools next school year.

These are the schools that have installed Evolv equipment and are operating the system daily, according to the district:

  • The Academy @ Shawnee
  • Ballard High School
  • Butler Traditional High School
  • duPont Manual High School
  • Eastern High School
  • Fern Creek High School
  • Iroquois High School
  • Marion C. Moore School
  • Noe Middle School
  • Seneca High School
  • Waggener High School
  • Western High School

A JCPS spokesperson declined to comment on the SEC investigation into Evolv.

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

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