BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland lawmakers are in a time crunch to pass a proposed measure that would put an armed officer in every public school in the state as the end of the legislative session looms.
A mass attack on students in Parkland, Florida and a targeted killing inside Great Mills High School — the seemingly endless threat against students –has Maryland’s lawmakers rushing to lockdown classrooms.
They have just days before the legislative session comes to a close on Monday, along with their opportunity to pass new school safety laws.
“In Great Mills, we saw the value and the real need in having an armed resource officer in schools,” said Sen. Steve Waugh (R-Calvert and St. Mary’s).
Waugh represents St. Mary’s County, which is still reeling from the deadly gunfire in a first-floor hallway last month.
Now, he’s pushing to put an armed resource officer in every public school in the state.
“We want to try and set up some standards for them, certification and training for them and then make sure the resources are available to fund them,” Waugh said.
Protecting students will come at a cost to taxpayers — an estimated $224 million in the first year alone to pay for roughly 1,000 officers.
He believes the price tag would be closer to $30 million. It’s one part of a four-bill package that could be complemented by proposed emergency legislation from the state’s top office.
“Secure doors and windows, metal detectors, security cameras, panic buttons and other capital improvements,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said.
A separate measure from Hogan that would fund officer training, school safety assessments and plans to address behavioral threats is stalled for now. But Waugh is confident that together, legislators will get a plan in place before time runs out.
“The legislature is absolutely committed to doing something very substantial in school safety this year. I’ve heard it over and over from my colleagues, so we’re stepping out. I believe we’ll be leading the nation,” he said.
If it passes, the bill would go into effect July 1.
All four bills in the package are waiting on committee votes before they go to the Senate floor.