BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Parents, teachers and the community will have a chance to weigh in on a nationwide debate that’s come to head in Baltimore — should schools be arming their police officers?
Baltimore City Schools held a public forum Thursday night on the issue. The school board talked about whether to ask the general assembly to allow school police to carry weapons inside school buildings.
As of now, officers are required to keep their weapons in a secure place during school hours.
The school board made a similar request in 2015, but state lawmakers rejected it because the board failed to get public input.
“We are returning to the conversation so that we can take the temperature, see what people think,” said school board chair Cheryl Casciani.
Thursday’s forum gave parents and community groups a chance to speak.
Parent Lamont Eckles painted a picture of an active shooter.
“If you have an officer that needs to run to a secure place and get his weapon that he is qualified by the state of Maryland to carry here’s what you’re going to have- you’re still going to have dead bodies out there but you’re going to have a school officer lying next to the person. These lessons are learned in blood,” Eckles said.
Parent Michael Foy said he was also in favor of allowing the officers to carry guns.
“The last thing I want to see the last call I want to get is an incident at my daughter’s school and the officer has to go to a lockbox to get a weapon,” Foy said.
But many others are opposed to the idea of carrying guns.
Ralph Moore, representing the group by Peaceful Means warned, “The danger is of thinking that guns are the answer to everything,”
Parent Cierra Thompson said she would need greater assurances than the schools might be able to give.
“If we’re going to give you firearms we need to know without question in the world that you are not going to use that weapon to intimidate a student under any circumstances, Thompson said.
The school board has not decided whether to move forward on a request to the legislature.
It comes nearly a year after a shooting at Great Mills High School in southern Maryland and a number of other school shootings across the nation.
Baltimore is the only school system in Maryland with its own sworn police officers. Other schools is Maryland have school resource officers from local police departments or sheriff’s offices on campus.