ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)—Should there be a police officer at every school? That question has long been part of a national debate in light of the recent spike in school shootings.
Gigi Barnett reports one county is moving closer to that by adding to its school police ranks.
It’s a frightening and more frequent occurrence at schools across the country: students quickly filing out of classes, police officers rushing in looking for a young shooter.
It happened this month in Oregon when a 15-year-old suspect took a gun to school and opened fire, killing himself and a 14-year-old classmate.
“We all ran into the weight room hallway, and we just hid and locked all of the doors, and there was just a bunch of gunshots everywhere,” said Tate Blaylock, Reynolds High student in Oregon.
School shootings in Sandy Hook, Conn., Arapahoe, Colo., and at Perry Hall High School in Baltimore County are sparking a national outcry for more school police.
“We can cite example after example of tragedies across our nation, and we certainly want to be in front of that,” said Chief Kevin Davis, Anne Arundel Co. Police.
So, Anne Arundel County says it’s adding more school cops to its ranks. At least three more uniformed officers will start this fall.
But instead of high schools, where many of the shootings occur, the new officers will head to middle schools.
“If we can have a positive influence on a young person’s life in 6th, 7th and 8th grade, we think that sets the stage for a successful high school experience,” Davis said.
School leaders say they’re needed for much more than crime fighting.
“A lot of our children coming up need that positive role model. And sometimes hearing it from the educator all of the time is not the best way to deliver that message,” said Sean McElhaney, Old Mill Middle North principal.
Right now, Anne Arundel County Schools have 21 school police officers.
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