By Rick Ritter

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ)– In the wake of the tragic school shootings across the country, many counties in Maryland are doing what they can to heighten security.

It’s been nearly two months since chaos erupted in Parkland, Florida. Weeks after that, heartache found its way to St. Mary’s county. Two school shootings that left Maryland on edge.

Since the tragedies, Harford, Carroll, Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties are all taking measures to bolster school safety.

Baltimore County has announced one of the most expensive plans in the region: an additional $8 million. The county already had a strong student resource officer program. They’ll now be doubling down at some schools by adding to elementary schools, while having a strong emphasis on mental health and adding 19 more student resource officers.

“If we don’t have a safe environment for these young people to live and learn, then we have a real problem on our hands,” said Baltimore County Police Chief Terrance Sheridan.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced the $8 million in additional funding Thursday.

“We all have an obligation to do everything we can to protect our children,” Kamenetz said.

The county already has a robust student resource officer program, but the additional funding allows them to put two officers in some middle and high schools, while dedicating officers to elementary schools.

“They have solved countless crimes, these student resource officers have, by listening to kids talking about something going on in neighborhood,” Chief Sheridan said.

More than 40 social workers and counselors and nearly 20 psychologists will be added also.

“We really have to look at this from the social emotional aspect, all the way through disciplinary aspect,” said Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Verletta White. “The time is now, we have children in seats right now.”

Baltimore County already had student resource officers in every middle school and high school.

Chief Sheridan says to speed the process up, they’ll move officers within the department to become resource officers, so they’re ready for the start of the school year.

“You don’t take a rookie and put them in a school. You take someone who has shown the ability to deal with young people already,” Sheridan said. “There’s not going to be a reduction in police service around the county. We’re not going to let that happen.”

Ten of the resource officers will be spread out among the police department’s 10 precincts, with officers spending time in each of the precinct’s elementary schools.

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