Frederick Douglass Shooting May Revive Debate About Arming Baltimore School Police

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A hall monitor was shot at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, Maryland today by a visitor who was trying to enter the school. The hall monitor, 56, confronted the visitor and was shot. Two police supervisors responded and took the suspect into custody after a brief fight. The incident is already reviving a heated debate in Baltimore about whether school police officers should be armed.

During an interview with WBFF Fox 45, Clyde Boatwright, president of the Baltimore City School Police Union, said that this was an example of why officers at schools should be armed.

The interview takes place at the end of this live video:

According to the union representative, two armed police supervisors heard the gunfire and took the suspect into custody. The situation might have been worse, he warned.

Commenters on the live video and across social media are already voicing their opinions about the situation. Richard Baines commented on the video above and agreed: “Why is it that our city schools can’t allow our school officers to carry weapons? If other jurisdictions and private schools allow their school police officers to carry… Then our city school police need to be allowed to as well…”

However, other commenters on the live video thread didn’t all agree. Some suggested tasers or stun guns instead.

The shooting is reviving a long-running debate about arming police officers at Baltimore schools. In mid-January, a bill was put before the Maryland General Assembly to end the ban on Baltimore police officers’ being able to carry weapons during school hours. But the bill quickly stalled, WBALTV reported.  Alison Perkins-Cohen, chief of staff of Baltimore City Public Schools, told WBALTV that the ban was a good one because police are trained in restorative practices and mediation. “It’s a different approach to policing that we are really seeing the impact of.”

Baltimore City Delegate Cheryl Glenn told WBALTV that she was worried about students’ safety if officers couldn’t carry guns.

On January 22, the Baltimore school board voted unanimously against arming officers, The Baltimore Sun reported. This killed HB31, which would have overturned the ban. Glenn, who had sponsored the bill, said she would withdraw the legislation after the vote.

School police can carry weapons while patrolling the school’s exterior before and after school hours. They must store their weapons in a secure location during school hours. In 2015, a bill to let officers be armed inside the school also failed.

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