Comptroller Peter Franchot hosted a press conference in support of legislation that would provide School Resource Officers (SROs) in public schools throughout Maryland.
The provisions in HB 165 and SB 807 are in reaction to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, last December, as well as an August 2012 shooting that occurred at Perry Hall High School. "There was an incident just yesterday. A young man was wandering in the halls of North County High School, in Anne Arundel County. When he was stopped, he told the resource officer that he was just checking out the security in the building. An investigation revealed that he was a former student, and when detectives went to his apartment, they found numerous assault weapons, and he wasn't suppose to be in the building," said Franchot.
The bills would require each county superintendent to enter into an agreement with an appropriate law enforcement agency to provide a full-time school resource officer to each public elementary and secondary school; provide additional funding required for school resource officers to be paid from the Education Trust Fund. The companion legislation -- which would be an emergency measure -- has bipartisan co-sponsorship in both chambers.
"There's no good reason why every school in Maryland shouldn't have a trained, armed resource officer. We have no obligation more fundamental than keeping our kids safe from harm," Comptroller Franchot said. "We just can't afford to let politics get in the way of protecting our children."
"As we are still feeling the shock and horror of the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, I felt it necessary to take action to improve the safety of our schools," says Delegate Cluster. "Many Maryland jurisdictions already have SROs, but HB 165 and SB 807 would place an active police officer in every school."
"As a father, I am focused on keeping our schools safe for our children," he said. "By putting an armed officer in every school, Senate Bill 807 will assure the fastest response to a gun threat and have an immediate and positive impact on the children’s safety."
The event attendees heard from a retired school principal, law enforcement officials and concerned parents on how the proposed bills will help keep our schools safe.
The hearing for both bills was held Thursday afternoon.