Armed officers, drills and the front-door buzzer: How do schools in Maryland counties handle security?

The Baltimore Sun

In the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, the national conversation has moved to the safety of America’s schoolchildren — and the policies districts have established in pursuit of that end.

A review of local jurisdictions in Baltimore and its surrounding counties shows some variations in safety protocols.

Maryland law requires certain safety drills, including evacuation and lockdown exercises, every year.

Some schools have armed officers in schools. Others don’t.

The area where there is the most consistency is in visitor protocols. All area schools require visitors to check in with an ID.

On Friday, Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters canvassed officials at the local school districts on security policy. Here's what they described:

Anne Arundel County

Officers — provided by the county, Annapolis and Fort Meade police departments — are stationed at high schools and some middle schools around the county. They are armed.

Safety measures include locked doors, visitor ID checkpoints at entryways and video security cameras. Visitors to newer schools often encounter double entrances, essentially a locked anteroom.

Baltimore City

Baltimore schools have their own police force, separate from city police. The department has more than 100 officer positions assigned to 40 campuses. The officers are not armed.

The district’s security protocol includes visitors checking in at the front office, presenting an ID and wearing a distinguishing visitor badge while in the building.

Baltimore County

Countywide protocols include locked doors at all buildings. Administrators use cameras to view visitors and buzz them in at the front door. Visitors provide an ID, which office staff scan for a background check before issuing a printed badge visitors must then wear in the building. All schools staff scan a badge to enter and leave.

An armed officer from Baltimore County police is in every high school and middle school.

Carroll County

The county sheriff has proposed putting armed deputies in all seven high schools on overtime shifts. If the proposal is approved, the county-provided officers would be armed. The county schools’ supervisor of security and emergency management is armed.

Current safety measures call for visitors to communicate through an intercom. They must provide a photo ID at the front office. Each of Carroll’s schools is also equipped with a public safety radio with an emergency button that allows administrators to notify the 911 dispatch center directly with the push of a button.

Harford County

The Harford County Sheriff’s Office provides armed officers to all high schools in the county. The resource officer at North Harford High School covers three schools in the cluster of campuses in Pylesville. Havre de Grace Police Department provides a resource officer to each of the schools — a high school, middle school and two elementary schools — within city limits. Aberdeen Police Department provides two full-time resource officers to schools — one at the high school and another at the middle school.

Safety measures call for all exterior doors to remain locked during the school day. Visitors must enter through the front office, where they provide identification, sign in and are issued a visitor badge to wear in the building.

Howard County

All high schools and six middle schools are staffed with armed county police officers.

All doors are locked in all elementary and middle schools. Visitors at all schools must show photo ID, which is scanned for a background check.

Twitter: @seanjwelsh

Email: sjwelsh@baltsun.com

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