By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Following a heated debate over whether Baltimore City school police officers should be armed, city schools are changing the way school police operate.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains they are bound to comply with state law.

A bill that would have allowed school police assigned to duty inside school buildings pointed to a problem that officers were already armed, although technically they should not have been.

Baltimore residents divided over a bill to allow school police to carry guns in the buildings when school is in session.

“It’s very important that we have the tools that’s needed for us to do the job,” said Michael Henry, retired officer.

“I just don’t think this is a positive step forward for students throughout Baltimore City,” said Joseph Gaylin, student.

The bill was withdrawn, but drew attention to the fact that school officers with inside assignments were already carrying service weapons. Now that’s changing.

When an officer is assigned to a school, that officer will have no access to a weapon.

“He’ll have no access to a weapon. We’re developing a bike and a foot patrol. Those bike and foot patrol units, the bike, respectfully, will be trained, officers will be designated as bike patrol. They’ll be trained by BCPD as well as one of our officers who is also certified in bike patrol. We’ll have foot patrol units in and around our city as needed, specifically in safety zones and hot spots around the city,” said Chief Marshall Goodwin, Baltimore City School Police Force.

And the number of inside assignments will now drop, freeing up dozens of officers to legally carry guns outside the school buildings and go in and out of the buildings with their weapons when needed.

“And then ultimately is to ensure compliance with existing law,” said Dr. Ted Thompson, deputy chief academic officer.

The process is already underway.

School police are committed to building better community relationships as well.

There are 141 school police officers in Baltimore–the only designated school force in the state.

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