BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Harford County Public Schools announced Tuesday that student resource officers will be added to all of its middle schools in the wake of recent school shootings.
From Parkland, Florida, to Great Mills, Maryland, two school shootings have ripped families apart, pushing counties across the country and locally to their tipping point.
“It’s horrific that we have these types of events in our schools,” Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said.
Harford County is the latest to bolster its school resource officer program. Just like every high school, soon a resource officer will be in every middle school.
“The children in our schools are our most precious possessions,” Harford County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Canavan said.
More than $1 million in new funding was introduced by the county executive, which will also go toward security camera upgrades and radio improvements throughout schools.
“We’ve got to make sure that the next generation that attends school does not have that fear at all in the back of their mind,” Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said.
While the addition is what parents have been pushing for, it draws concern over the lack of resource officers in elementary schools.
[Reporter: What do you say to those parents who have a child stepping into kindergarten next year?]
“Both of my daughters — one’s still in public schools, one went through public schools — I share Harford County community concerns,” Gahler said. “We have a task force that’s coming together to look at other ways we can secure those schools.”
Adding an SRO to every school would certainly be a financial burden. Officials say if they’re forced to prioritize, this is where the emphasis needs to be.
“When our young people are maturing into adulthood, that’s when we see these kinds of issues like we saw in Great Mills. Someone’s broken heart, unfortunately, led to the loss of life,” Gahler said.
Officlas say this will be about a nine-month process in order to hire seven additional officers through the sheriff’s department and get them trained. Both Carroll and Anne Arundel counties have taken similar measures with a focus on middle and high schools.
Gov. Larry Hogan has already said he’s putting millions into his budget to upgrade security at schools.
It still remains to be seen who would control that money in each county and where exactly it would go.
Officials say the hope is for the resource officers to be in the remaining middle schools by january 2019.
Bel Air, Fallston, North Harford, Patterson Mill and Southampton are middle schools in the county without resource officers.