The Baltimore City School Board voted Tuesday to oppose a measure that would have allowed school police officers to carry weapons during the school day. Currently, the 90-odd city schools police officers may carry their service weapons while patrolling the exterior of school buildings before and after, but not during, school hours. During school hours, they’re required to lock up their guns. The board’s unanimous (10-0) vote to effectively crushed any hope of overturning that standing policy in the near future.
This vote followed a “lively public forum,” according to The Baltimore Sun, in which parents, members of the police union, and students spoke in favor as well as opposition.
“We have always been Baltimore’s ‘best-kept secret,'” said Sgt. Clyde Boatwright, on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police. He said there was no substantive data that showed armed officers caused problems in schools, only suggestions that “it could.”
Baltimore is the only jurisdiction in Maryland with a sworn school police force. In surrounding counties, local police or sheriff’s departments patrol schools and are allowed to carry their weapons.
An interesting detail of this story is that the bill was sponsored by State Del. Cheryl D. Glenn, a Democrat. Following the school board’s decision, Glenn said she was “very disappointed.” She also said the believed the board had succumbed to pressure from a student group called the Baltimore Algebra Project, which ended the event by forming a phalanx with their backs to the board members and saying, “No guns in schools – we are gonna fight for our lives.”
Students who oppose SRO’s to be armed in @BaltCitySchools take over board meeting with a list of demands. Chair forced to take a 10 minute break before voting. @wbaltv11 #wbal pic.twitter.com/XJFkihpmix
— Karen Campbell (@KarenCampbellTV) January 22, 2019
“I think that this is a very unwise decision,” said Glenn. “These are sworn police officers. They are not security guards. They have more training than Baltimore police.”
Unfortunately, there’s nothing she can do at this point.
“I can’t move a bill that doesn’t have the support of the school board and the mayor,” Glenn commented. “The votes wouldn’t be there.”
The last time someone attempted to change this policy was 2015 in the General Assembly. That proposal was similarly DOA.