Governor Hogan announces funds for school safety

Posted at 5:21 PM, Feb 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-28 23:17:53-05

Governor Larry Hogan announced a series of new initiatives, including new funding, an executive order, and emergency legislation to enhance safety in Maryland schools.

“There is no more important job than keeping our citizens safe – especially our children. In the wake of the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida, citizens here in our state and all across America want to know what government at all levels is doing to keep our children safe, and what we are collectively doing to stop gun violence and violent crime,” said Governor Hogan.

“Classrooms should never be a place of fear for our children. No mom or dad should ever have to worry when they send their kids off to school whether their son or daughter is going to come home safely.”

To bolster school security efforts in the state, Governor Hogan announced that the administration would commit an additional $125 million to accelerate and enhance safety improvements in schools, including secure doors and windows, metal detectors, security cameras, panic buttons, and other capital improvements.

He also pledged an additional $50 million in operating funds each year for new school safety grants, which could be used for school resource officers, counselors, and additional safety technology.

The funding will be allocated through the governor’s education lockbox proposal, which provides an additional $4.4 billion in education spending from casino revenues.

The governor also announced that he will submit emergency legislation to create Maryland’s first statewide school safety standards, including required training and certification for all school resource officers and security staff.

The legislation will require all school systems to conduct an annual school safety assessment and develop plans to address behavioral threats and emergency situations.

The plans will be subject to approval by the Maryland State Board of Education and overseen by the Maryland Center for School Safety.

As an immediate step to activate the emergency legislation, the governor announced that he will submit a supplemental budget on Friday, March 2, that provides an additional $5 million for the Maryland Center for School Safety, an increase in funding of 600 percent.

The funding will enable the center to hire analysts and social media trackers, allocate staff in more regions of the state, and assist schools with conducting the mandated safety assessments.

The governor also announced support for several targeted initiatives to further restrict access to guns for individuals with mental illnesses or a violent criminal background, including:

  • Support for “red flag” legislation, which allows family members or law enforcement to petition the court for an order that would prohibit an individual from possessing firearms or ammunition if they were deemed by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others.
  • Federal action to institute a universal background check system, which the governor has supported since his campaign.
  • Support for legislation to strengthen and clarify current law to prohibit an individual convicted of domestic violence from possessing firearms, which was a factor in the recent murder of Prince George’s County Police Corporal Mujahid Ramzziddin.
  • Support for legislation banning “bump stocks.”

“I want to be very clear: my most important responsibility is keeping the citizens of Maryland safe, and the most important responsibility we all have is to keep our children safe. Let’s get it done together,” said the governor.

On Thursday Baltimore County Public Schools held a meeting with parents.

ABC2 talked to some parents about Hogan's iniative and what they want to see done.

Andrea Bank, who is a parent said she would like to see more security at entrances to schools.

"I'd like more security at the doors at least during those periods of time when students are entering before the school goes into a lockdown," said Bank. "Because I feel like once there's somebody in the building you're already behind the 8 ball."

Kimberly Fitzwater said keeping shooters out is the biggest concern at her child's school.

"The biggest thing about my child's school is you come in you get buzzed in," said Fitzwater. "You're supposed to go to the office but if you don't there's no one stopping you from not going to the office."