The Baltimore school board has rejected a proposal that would have allowed police officers assigned to the city’s schools to carry guns while patrolling inside school buildings.
About 90 specially trained Baltimore officers patrol the schools. They currently can have their weapons when they patrol outside of the building, but must store them when they are inside.
A state-level bill had been introduced to allow armed officers in schools, but after the school board’s 10-0 vote to reject the idea at a Jan. 22 meeting, Democratic Delegate Cheryl D. Glenn said she would withdraw her proposal.
Baltimore is voting to make sure Police officers disarm themselves when entering a school
Um… What? So let’s make police officers less useful when they are needed somewhere. Yep. Makes sense.
Bad guy with a gun? Better call in the unarmed police officers.
— Jake (@jake_dingers) January 29, 2019
Arming what are known as school resource officers was bitterly opposed on racial lines in a community that was divided by the Freddie Gray case, in which Baltimore police officers were accused of allowing a young black man to die in police custody in 2015.
The Obama-era Justice Department intervened to order changes in the police department amid allegations of institutional racism.
That past was very present as the board considered allows police access to their weapons in schools, The Baltimore Sun reported.
“The SROs are under federal consent decree,” said Kimberly Humphrey of the ACLU of Maryland.
Parent Melissa Schober said 89 of 90 arests by the school-based officers were of black citizens.
The meeting eventually dissolved into disorder after students with the Baltimore Algebra Project interrupted the meeting with a demonstration.
“No guns in schools,” they chanted, according to the Sun. “We gonna fight for our lives.”
This has got to be one of the dumbest ideas out there. Now not even a sworn officer can protect the students. Apparently, politicians feel it is best to wait for officers to arrive five to fifteen minutes after an active shooter situation starts… https://t.co/T4m09bFH1u
— WJS Outdoors (@WJSOUTDOORS) January 31, 2019
Glenn said she was “very disappointed” by the board’s action, which she said reflected the pressure board members felt from the students.
“I think that this is a very unwise decision,” she said. “These are sworn police officers. They are not security guards. They have more training than Baltimore police.”
During the public debate on the proposal that led up to the board’s meeting, Sgt. Clyde Boatwright, president of the school police union, said the measure was essential, according to the Baltimore Sun.
He called it “common sense” to end a farce in which police were “running around with empty holsters.”
“I would hope that a little bit of common sense kicks in,” Boatwright told the Sun in October. “The decision-makers need to fix it, and fix it now.”
“Time is of the essence. Each day we recover another gun, we’re rolling the dice. We’ve gone from recovering guns to guns being fired in schools,” he said. “The question is: Who is going to be held responsible when these guns are used to strike a student?”
Parent Aimee Harmon-Darrow, however, launched a petition drive to oppose allowing police officers to have their guns in school.
“Arming school police may lead to a student’s unfortunate death,” she wrote in the petition, invoking the Freddie Gray case and signaling her concerns in uppercase, bold type.
The petition said parents must let board members know “that guns have no place in our school, especially in the hands of officers who feel empowered to pull the trigger if they feel their personal safety is at risk. THIS IS A TRAGEDY WAITING TO HAPPEN.
“Our schools should not resemble prisons with armed guards. This is not the way to create a conducive learning environment,” the petition stated. “This is not the way to further restorative practices.”
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