Howard County officials announce initiatives to ramp up security in schools

More money, resources to better secure schools
Posted at 4:32 PM, Mar 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-27 17:48:13-04

Howard County government, schools and police are working together to keep students safe in school. 

"It is extremely clear that there is not one solution," Howard County Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano said. 

Martirano joined County Executive Allen Kittleman and police Chief Gary Gardner in front of Mount Hebron High School to announced more money and resources to secure the schools. 

Kittleman announced $1.1 million in his capital budget to make security improvements to the outsides of county high schools. 

"There may be some doors that are not locking properly. They are going to make sure that they are. They are going to make sure that everywhere in the school in secure," Kittleman said. 

To better regulate who can get into the buildings, Martirano said they are going to finish up instaling buzzers in all the schools by the end of the summer. 

"The front office will be trained on how to safely allow access to visitors and be sure that every visitor follows the process for signing in," Martirano said. 


Changes will also be coming inside the halls. Kittleman announced he is putting funding in his operations budget to hire 3 more schools resources officers and a supervisor to increase security in county middle schools. Each officer will cover 2 schools, doubling the amount covered from 6 to 12.


For Martirano, last week's shooting at Great Mills High School drove this point home.


"One more senseless act of violence but understand that the SRO responded quickly and prevented other tragedy from happening," Martirano said. 


They will be phased in over the next few years and he is not sure how much it will cost. All the high schools already have SRO's.


"Officer D that works here, he's such an amazing guy," Mount Hebron High School senior Taylor Wildman said. "He can joke around with the students and everything. He's really engaged in our lives and he knows us personally."


Howard County road officers will also be stepping inside schools on a pretty regular basis. They are now required to stop by a school every shift as part of their 2 foot patrols already required by the department.


"This is about building relationship and also it's about the officer in the beat getting to know the layout of the school in case of an emergency," Gardner said. 


"It's very comforting knowing that our school environment is getting safer and safer each day. It's good that we are progressing to a place where we don't have to worry about such terrible things," Mount Hebron HS senior Emma Scott said. 


One thing that Kittleman said he is not considering: arming teachers. 


"Teachers shouldn't’t have to worry about providing the security for a school. Our teachers shouldn't be armed, our teachers should focus on what they have been trained to do and that's why it's so important that we have the SRO's in the building and we have these security measures going forward," Kittleman said. 


Gardner said they are also planning small scale drills in schools while they are not in session, to work with the staff and SRO's. The department is also working to get all the schools' security camera footage available in patrol cars in case of an emergency.