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Public discussion on local school safety set for Bel Air Thursday; all 1,000 tickets are reserved

In less than 30 hours, people reserved 1,000 tickets for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office upcoming “Public Discussion on School Safety” being held in Bel Air Thursday evening and hosted by Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler, above, and other county and school officials.
In less than 30 hours, people reserved 1,000 tickets for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office upcoming “Public Discussion on School Safety” being held in Bel Air Thursday evening and hosted by Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler, above, and other county and school officials. (MATT BUTTON/THE AEGIS/ Baltimore Sun Media Group)

In less than 30 hours, 1,000 tickets were reserved for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office upcoming “Public Discussion on School Safety” being held in Bel Air Thursday evening.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the event will be a forum in which local residents can express their concerns and ideas about improving school safety following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., earlier this month, during which 17 people died.

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Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler, along with Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, Harford County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Canavan, the Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace police chiefs, and various local and state elected leaders are expected to take part, according to a notice posted on the Sheriff’s Office website.

The forum is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday in the gymnasium of The John Carroll School in Bel Air. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and people can submit questions in advance via email to Erik Robey, of the Sheriff’s Office, at robeye@harfordsheriff.org.

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The forum was announced on social media Friday and seating at the venue was reserved quickly.

Admission is free, but attendees were asked to register in advance online.

Cristie Kahler, a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office, said 1,000 tickets had been reserved between 4:30 p.m. Friday and 9 p.m. Saturday.

She said John Carroll was selected “based on the availability of locations and amount of people that could be accommodated.”

Although efforts were made to secure additional seating, organizers were unable to do so either at John Carroll or by finding a larger venue, Kahler said via email on Monday evening.

“This morning [Monday], we held a logistical meeting to determine if additional tickets could be made available to accommodate the overwhelming response we had over the weekend – distributing 1,000 tickets in less than 48 hours,” Kahler wrote.

“Unfortunately, it will not be feasible to add tickets,” she continued. “We appreciate all your suggestions, and at this time, no other venue is available to host a larger audience.”

She added, however, that “in order to ensure everyone can hear this important message, Harford Cable Network will record and televise the meeting, both online and on TV.”

The email also warned that “parking will be limited” and that attendees should consider carpooling, if possible.

Registered participants will receive an email update this week with specific parking and logistical information, according to Kahler.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, and those attending are being advised to “have your tickets in hand.”

“Please note, everyone must be registered and have a ticket with them at arrival,” Kahler wrote.

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The event will start with comments from the elected and appointed leaders, followed by questions and comments from the audience. People should limit comments to two minutes out of consideration for the number of attendees, according to the Sheriff’s Office statement announcing the forum.

“Every child deserves to learn in a school environment free from fear,” according to the statement. “Together we will continue to work to create that reality for all Harford County students and families.”

This report is updated from and earlier version.

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