Heated debate over armed Baltimore City School Officers

Baltimore, Md. (WMAR) - Should Baltimore City Schools Police Officers carry guns?

It’s a question that was tabled 3 years ago but now the school board is revisiting.

On Thursday night the Baltimore City School Board held a public forum on the issue.

Right now school police officers have to put their guns in a lock box or safe when they are on campus.

“They can’t say oh hold on don’t pull your gun out let me get my gun out of the lockbox,” A man in support of allowing officers to carry their guns said.

Baltimore City Public School is the only jurisdiction in the state that has their own police force.

All other counties have armed police officers patrol their schools.

Joseph Kane is a father of four and a graduate of Northern High School.

“I remember some of the activities my classmates engaged in,” Kane said. “I'm fearful that those activities could be misconstrued as threatening. Could give officers a reason to shoot and potentially kill a student for behaving as a kid.”

A group of principals asking that the choice be given to the individual school communities.

“Right now Baltimore City does not even have the power to say or hold the honest conversation as to whether our school police should be armed or not,” Tammatha Woodhouse the Principal at Renaissance Academy said.
 

Gerell Smith, a student at Forest Park and member of a group called Youth as Resources, said he is concerned armed officers in schools would strain an already tense relationship between officers and students.

“Most of the situations that occur in school there’s really no use for firearms and weapons,” Smith said.

“There should be police there yes to de-escalate certain situations but not to in a sense escalate it by using or by pulling out their firearms when there’s really no need to.” 
Sekou Kasimu said he has been volunteering at schools for years, he said guns are already getting into student’s hands in school and officers need to be equally equipped.

“A lot of these incidents wouldn’t take place if the students knew there was an armed police officer on the premises,” Kasimu said. “The reason they do what they do bring guns to school is because they know in most cases there isn’t an armed police officer on the premises.”

This is just a start to the discussion, it will be up to the school board to bring their opinion to lawmakers who can create legislation.

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