Submitted to the AFRO by Elijah Etheridge

A long-awaited decision on the fate of Baltimore City School Police being armed has finally been made. On January 22, 2019 Baltimore City School Commissioners voted unanimously to uphold the current ban on school police carrying guns in schools. The vote opposed a measure allowing school police officers to carry weapons on City school campuses.  Members of the City School Board of Commissioners were met with much opposition from the community and The Baltimore Algebra Project who staged a protest during the proceedings at the school board meeting. During the meeting, other groups such as the Police Union, parent organizations and other community interests’ groups supported school police being armed on campus citing data and other evidence to support their argument in favor of school police. However, in the end, the voice of the students carried the night as City School Commissioners’ voted 10 to 0 in favor of banning school police carrying firearms in city schools.

This is an old issue that has supporters on both sides. We understand the reasoning behind having city schools as a gun free zones however the fact is that students are bringing guns to school and if City School Police are disarmed, who will protect students and teachers from the threat of gun violence once it occurs.”

Elijah Etheridge (Courtesy Photo)

Already in 2019 it has been reported that three guns have been collected or confiscated from students with the help of school police. If school police are disarmed, we question how effective schools will be in getting the guns out of the hands of students. Many schools have search procedures for students entering the building. Without the presence of school police how can this search procedure be effective?   Already in January, a student brought a gun to school and used it to shoot multiple students in Baltimore City. Many students feel that they have to arm themselves not so much for their school environment, but to protect themselves from the dangers commuting to and from school.

It is important for us to keep in mind that in discussing this issue like so many others, there are two worlds we must look at: the world as it is and the world as it should be. It should be that no one carries weapons especially in a school where the most valuable resource we have, our children, are being cultivated and educated. However, we must indeed deal with the world of reality and in doing so, we realize there are those that do carry weapons and not only carry them, use them often on innocent unsuspecting victims. If we are to safeguard our children, we must provide them with the highest level of security at our disposal. Unfortunately, in today’s society we have to have the discussion of allowing police to be armed or to leave our children open and vulnerable to all manner of violence and hope that they will be left untouched.

In as much as BTN, supports the voice of students as we do teachers, we believe this is an issue we find ourselves on opposite sides.  BTN supports police officers carrying firearms as this is the only deterrent we have.

Elijah Etheridge is the executive director of Baltimore Teacher Network.

The opinions on this page are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the AFRO.
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