More than two dozen armed Baltimore City school police officers are being assigned to some of the district’s most dangerous buildings more than a year after a state law forced them off campus.
Officers are heading back inside some school buildings, but they won’t be able to openly carry their weapons on campus. The acting chief said it comes at a price.
“When our officers were on a rotation, it was hard to develop those positive relationships that we had prior to the redeployment,” acting school police Chief Akil Hamm said.
The district is placing officers in 30 schools. Administrators won’t say where. The school system said it’ll be based on a number of factors, including school size, criminal history, input from administrators and suspension data. The head of the school police union said there’s more to the story.
“Schools that have a history of homicides, robbery, aggravated assault, and other types of serious crimes are going to be the schools that will be selected to have the unarmed police officer in the building,” said Clyde Boatright, with the school police union.
During the school day, officers will have to keep their weapons in a safe.
“That’s problematic. That is an unrealistic expectation of safety by having just a warm body in a uniform,” Boatright said.
Parents just seem glad they’re coming back.
“I think that it’s good that they keep their weapons in a safe place, and I think it’s good they’re coming back without the weapons,” parent Khali Wilson said.
“I think them having the weapons or without the weapons is a good thing as long as they’re coming back to the schools,” parent Shana Coe said.
“The presence of the police in the school system is always good,” resident Kerisha Alvez-El said. “Even without a weapon.”
School officials said having officers back on campus will pay off in the long run.
“We got to establish trust. We got to establish positive relationships with our young people, and when we do that, the kids will come and tell us when there is a problem,” Hamm said.
The school police force will also be smaller after 20 officers were let go this spring.