Baltimore, MD – The Baltimore City school board voted 10 to 0 on Tuesday to oppose a bill in the state legislature that would allow school resource officers to carry guns in school.
Baltimore school resource officers are the only law enforcement officers in Maryland who are prohibited from carrying their duty weapons while on-duty inside of schools, according to WBAL.
The Baltimore Sun reported that Baltimore is also the only jurisdiction in the state with a dedicated school police force.
Local police and sheriff’s departments protect schools throughout the rest of Maryland and may carry their weapons while on duty in the schools.
But school resource officers in Baltimore may only carry their guns when they are patrolling the exterior campus of schools during the day, and in the school after hours.
School resource officer are required to lock up their guns at the start of the school day, WBAL reported.
Maryland State Delegate Cheryl Glenn’s had proposed legislation that would have overturned the earlier law that banned school resource officers carrying during school hours, The Baltimore Sun reported.
However, the school board’s vote has effectively put the kibosh on Glenn’s new bill.
“I can’t move a bill that doesn’t have the support of the school board and the mayor,” she said. “The votes wouldn’t be there.”
The Baltimore City Public Schools Board of School Commissioners met on Tuesday at school headquarters to discuss and vote on the issue, but the meeting was largely drowned out by the chanting and demands of a student group that attended.
Students from a group called the Baltimore Algebra Project told members of the school board that they felt they should have a say in decisions that are made about their education.
But then when their time expired, the students refused to sit down or cede the floor to other members of the community who had come to the meeting.
Board Chair Cheryl Casciani was forced to call a 10-minute recess in order to bring the meeting back to order so the board could vote.
Despite the protest by the students, there were numerous parents at the meeting in support of the proposed legislation.
“I support the second amendment. De-escalate armed suspects. Let’s de-escalate when they’re firing at you. You just jump up and shout, ‘de-escalate.’ It doesn’t work,” Leo Burroughs Jr. told the school board.
Baltimore Police Sergeant Clyde Boatwright, president of the school officers’ union, spoke in support of the proposed legislation, and made a point to put responsibility at the feet of those who were making the decision.
“We just need to be clear that if and when we have a serious situation in Baltimore, everyone is going to look back at this day and say, ‘You know what? They had a chance to get it right and they didn’t,'” Sgt. Boatwright told WBAL.
He pointed out that the school board had been in support of the proposed legislation two years ago.
The state delegate who sponsored the bill was “very disappointed” and said she felt the school board had caved to the very vocal student group.
“I think that this is a very unwise decision,” Glenn said. “These are sworn police officers. They are not security guards. They have more training than Baltimore police.”
There have been some good examples of school resource officers stopping violence in Maryland schools.
In March of 2018, a St. Mary’s County school resource officer, Deputy First Class Blaine Gaskill, stopped a gunman who had already shot two students at Great Mills High School, The Baltimore Sun reported.
“It looks like the SRO did exactly what the SRO was trained to do,” St. Mary’s Schools Superintendent James Scott Smith said at the time.