BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A controversial new bill proposes armed police officers inside Baltimore City schools. Some say it will make students and faculty safer; others argue it sends the wrong message to students.
Meghan McCorkell has more as both sides of the issue come together.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Frigid, Blustery Morning In Store Saturday After Snow
Arming school officers was the subject of a fiery debate Tuesday night at a school board public hearing.
In Frederick, two students were shot standing outside the high school during a JV basketball game. In Perry Hall, an armed student opened fire in the cafeteria on the first day of school. It’s incidents like these that Baltimore City police say they want to be able to defend against.
“My concern is that if we’re not on the right side of history, we’ll wind up making our town the next Newtown,” said Baltimore City Schools Police Sgt. Clyde Boatwright.
Lawmakers are now considering a bill to allow city school police officers to carry guns inside schools. They’re currently only allowed outside.
School police officers say they have responded to 78 lockdowns at city schools in just the past three years. But some parents and students say arming officers isn’t the answer.
“I just don’t think this is a positive step forward for students throughout Baltimore City,” said student Joseph Gaylin.READ MORE: Person Sought In Fire That Killed 3 Baltimore Firefighters; $30K Reward Announced
“If you bring armed officers into schools, there will be a gun in every school and I don’t want it there,” said parent Aimee Harmon-Darrow.
They’ve turned in a petition to the school board asking for the legislation to be withdrawn.
“I’ll point out that Columbine High School did have an armed guard and that unfortunately did not stop events there,” said parent Melissa Schober.
But Michael Henry, a school officer for 11 years, says arming officers is vital.
“It’s very important that we have the tools that’s needed for us to do the job so students can go back to their safe homes,” he said.
The decision is now in the hands of state lawmakers.
Police are allowed to carry guns in schools in most other jurisdictions in Maryland.MORE NEWS: LIVE LOOK: Ocean City Expecting Up To A Foot Of Snow
The Baltimore City delegation in the General Assembly has suspended action on the bill pending Tuesday night’s school board hearing.