Baltimore Reverses Course on Arming Cops in Schools
One of the nation's worst cities for murder finally makes a sensible decision on guns.
The city of Baltimore is dubbed “Bodymore, Murderland” for good reason: While its homicide rate dropped in 2018, it was still the bloodiest among major American cities. But we shouldn’t be surprised, given the hotbed of gang recruitment that exists within the city’s schools.
Despite that danger, Baltimore’s in-school police officers are prohibited from carrying weapons on campus during school hours. This situation is unique among Maryland school districts and stems from a 2015 determination that city police aren’t legally authorized to do so and must instead store their weapons in a school safe or lockbox.
At a recent school forum on arming officers, State Delegate Cheryl Glenn noted, “I don’t want us to be in a situation where we ‘would have, should have, could have’” had an armed officer. In January, she introduced a bill in the Maryland General Assembly to grant authorization, but later that month the Baltimore City school board voted unanimously to oppose it during a “chaotic” meeting. Without the board’s support, Glenn withdrew her bill.
Days after Glenn’s bill was shelved, a shooting at the city’s Frederick Douglass High School left assistant basketball coach Michael Marks seriously wounded. The 25-year-old suspect, a brother of a female student who Marks had recently disciplined, had already been evicted from campus once. On his return, the suspect entered the school without an ID check or going through a metal detector, alleged Marks’s attorney, and when the shooting began the unarmed school resource officers ran away.
Chastened by the Marks incident, both Delegate Glenn and the board reversed course this week on arming officers. With an eight-to-two vote, the board gave its blessing to Glenn’s reintroduced proposal. “It would be nice if we lived in a world where we didn’t need guns at all,” said Glenn after the vote, “but that’s not the reality for us in Baltimore City. This decision will give the bill a lot of the support the [Baltimore City] delegation needs to see.”
Naturally, not everyone was pleased. “We feel like we have a culture of students with negative relationships with police in their communities,” complained one student organizer who attends the quasi-public alternative Bard High School Early College in Baltimore. He added that the board “went and changed their vote after Douglass,” insisting that “we keep making decisions out of fear.”
Well, yes, that’s certainly one of the problems with the gun-control crowd.
It’s worth noting again that the board only decided to support a bill with an uncertain future in the uber-leftist Maryland General Assembly — a proposal simply allowing their police to “catch up” with other Maryland jurisdictions already having armed school officers. That’s a far cry from the Florida school safety commission created after the Parkland shooting, which voted to allow arming specially trained teachers — and this despite the obvious security need in Baltimore City schools, where guns are regularly found and physical abuse of teachers runs rampant.
As for the shooter of Michael Marks, he was quickly apprehended by a police supervisor who happened to be at the school on another matter and was therefore carrying his service weapon — so the arrest occurred without further incident. Who says a gun-grabbing school board can’t learn a valuable lesson?