updated 4/13/2006 10:23:20 PM ET 2006-04-14T02:23:20

Public schools will begin introducing portable metal detectors at random and searching students for weapons, city officials said Thursday.

By April 26, school safety officers will begin putting up temporary, portable walk-through detectors to screen middle and high school students, officials said. On days machines are at a site, signs will alert students. On any given day, detectors will be in as many as 10 schools.

Crime is falling in city schools, but the number of weapons confiscated is up. This academic year, 307 weapons have been confiscated in schools, including 20 guns, officials said. That’s up 5 percent from the same time last year.

About one-fifth of middle and high schools already scan students regularly, but the new program is the first one in which scanners will be introduced at random.

The program is raising privacy concerns. Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said that it is important to keep schools gun-free but that her organization is examining the program’s legality.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday it would take time to make sure the process is efficient and doesn’t delay students.

“I think it’s clear that we are on the right course to make our schools safer ... by stopping disorder before it gets out of hand,” he said during a news conference at a Brooklyn high school.

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