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With School Security Plan, Baltimore Co. Attempts To Close ‘Door Of Vulnerability’

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Ritchie Rochelle 175x131 L Rochelle Ritchie
Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)—It’s a million-dollar project implemented to help keep students safe from gun violence in school.  Baltimore County unveiled its nearly $4 million initiative to be heard during February’s legislative session.

Rochelle Ritchie has more on the project and why principals are backing the idea.

In a post-Columbine, Perry Hall and Sandy Hook nation, school officials say it’s time to close the door of vulnerability.

On Aug. 27 at Perry Hall High School, shots rang out in the cafeteria on the first day of classes.

“All of a sudden I see everyone get up and start running away,” said Diane Loegering, student.

One student was shot and another charged with attempted murder.

Four months later, tragedy struck 260 miles away in Newtown, Conn. Twenty children and six teachers were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary, a shooting that rocked the nation.

The tragedy brought the use of weapons in school to the forefront nationally and locally.

“This is the right time again to take a new fresh look at the issue, what else can we do,” said Chief Jim Johnson, Baltimore County Police.

Tuesday, Baltimore County unveiled a nearly $4 million project they hope will thwart the risk of violence in school.

“Our goal is to implement steps to make our schools safer immediately to begin closing the window of vulnerability,” said Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Executive.

The plan in its first stages involves installing a state-of-the-art visitor identification system, more personnel and new cameras in schools accessible to police through cell phones and tablets.

It’s a plan supported by county principals like Bonnie Lambert, who considers her school a safe zone but says there are needed improvements.

“We would love to have more cameras; we have some areas where the cameras can’t see,” said Bonnie Lambert, Baltimore County school principal.

One of the problems you’ll find at Loch Raven High School is with the doors. When students leave, the door opens. That’s fine. But once it starts to close, it stays ajar.

It’s these minor problems that could lead to major consequences.

The county also plans to train teachers on how to respond to a shooting without the use of weapons.

“We are clearly going to be proactive in this approach too,” said Dr. Dallas Dance, Baltimore County superintendent.

Baltimore County Police Chief Johnson says crime in county schools has gone down in the last 10 years.

Baltimore County plans to announce their plan during a work session on Feb. 4, 2013.

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