Leaders Tackle School Security

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The trauma of the Newtown school massacre has evolved into various calls for action, some right here in Maryland.

Alex DeMetrick reports that includes steps currently underway in all 24 of the state’s school districts.

The images from Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. were still fresh when Maryland’s school board talked to the state superintendent.

“Engage in dialogue about what action we could take to prevent such a tragedy from happening in Maryland schools,” said Maryland Board of Education President Dr. Charlene Dukes.

Now the board has heard back. All 24 districts’ emergency plans are being reviewed and Governor Martin O’Malley is pledging $28 million.

“To provide physical enhancements such as buzzers, cameras and automatically locking doors,” said Maryland School Superintendent Dr. Lillian Lowery.

This is more than an academic exercise. School violence is very much a Maryland issue.

“He pulled out a gun and started waving it around and the teacher said, `Put the gun down. Put the gun down,'” said student Devin Harmon.

The teacher snatched away the gun before a student at Stemmers Run Middle School in Baltimore County ever fired a shot. Just two weeks earlier, a student was shot and wounded by another classmate at Perry Hall High School. That brought an immediate increase in police presence, the introduction of metal detecting wands and suggestions from nervous parents.

“Parental control of weapons is really the necessity,” said one parent.

“I think it should be mandatory in all schools that they put up metal detectors,” said another parent.

But it’s law enforcement the schools plan to turn to for advice.

“Establishing a statewide school safety center to provide resources, training and other supports to all public schools and law enforcement stakeholders,” Lowery said.

A statewide school safety center has yet to be established but it would bring together state police, emergency planners and local law enforcement to develop standard security measures for all Maryland schools.

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