Ho­gan an­nounces fund­ing and ini­tia­tives to ad­dress school safety

Times-Record - - News - By ABBY AN­DREWS aan­drews@car­o­line­times­record.com

— Gov. Larry Ho­gan has an­nounced $125 mil­lion in in­creased fund­ing and emer­gency leg­is­la­tion to enhance school safety and voiced his sup­port for leg­isla­tive pro­pos­als to keep firearms out of the hands of the men­tally ill, re­peat vi­o­lent of­fend­ers and those con­victed of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

“There is no more im­por­tant job than keep­ing our cit­i­zens safe, es­pe­cially our chil­dren,” Ho­gan said at a news con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day, Feb. 28, in Annapolis. “Cit­i­zens here in our state and all across Amer­ica want to know what gov­ern­ment at all lev­els is do­ing to keep our chil­dren safe, and what we are col­lec­tively do­ing to stop gun vi­o­lence and vi­o­lent crime.”

Ho­gan said Mary­land al­ready is ahead of the curve com­pared to other states, specif­i­cally not­ing the Han­dle With Care pro­gram, con­nect­ing law en­force­ment, schools and hu­man ser­vices to pro­vide in­ter­ven­tions for chil­dren ex­posed to trauma, and the Mar yland Cen­ter for School Safety, shar­ing crit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion in real time among law en­force­ment and school staff, and pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance and train­ing.

Those ini­tia­tives have paid off in re­cent weeks, Ho­gan said, ref­er­enc­ing suc­cess­ful law en­force­ment in­ter­ven­tions in Fred­er­ick, St. Mary’s and Mont­gomery coun­ties.

“Although I believe we are ahead of the na­tion, we must do more,” he said.

The $125 mil­lion in ad­di­tional fund­ing will be used to ac­cel­er­ate and enhance school safety im­prove­ments through­out the state, Ho­gan said, by pur­chas­ing se­cure doors and win­dows, metal de­tec­tors, se­cu­rity cam­eras and panic but­tons.

Ad­di­tion­ally, $50 mil­lion in new school safety grants will be ad­min­is­tered an­nu­ally, to pay for new school re­source of­fi­cers, ad­di­tional coun­selors and cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy, Ho­gan said.

The fund­ing will be al­lo­cated through the re­cently an­nounced ed­u­ca­tion lock­box pro­posal, which will pro­vide an ad­di­tional $4.4 bil­lion in ed­u­ca­tion spend­ing from casino rev­enues.

A planned emer­gency leg­is­la­tion sub­mit­tal will cre­ate Mary­land’s first statewide school safety stan­dards, Ho­gan said, in­clud­ing re­quired train­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for all school re­source of­fi­cers and se­cu­rity staff.

The leg­is­la­tion will re­quire all school sys­tems to con­duct an an­nual safety as­sess­ment for each school in its ju­ris­dic­tion, and de­velop plans to ad­dress be­hav­ioral threats and emer­gency sit­u­a­tions.

Ho­gan said he also in­tends to sub­mit a sup­ple­men­tal bud­get Fri­day, March 2, to pro­vide an ad­di­tional $5 mil­lion for the Mary­land Cen­ter for School Safety — a fund­ing in­crease of 600 per­cent.

The money will go to­ward hir­ing an­a­lysts and so­cial me­dia track­ers, in­creas­ing the cen­ter’s phys­i­cal pres­ence statewide and as­sist­ing lo­cal school dis­tricts with con­duct­ing the newly man­dated safety assess­ments.

Ho­gan said he signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der di­rect­ing ev­ery state agency to con­duct re­views, and up­date its in­ter­nal poli­cies and pro­ce­dures in ac­tive as­sailant events.

Fi­nally, Ho­gan said he was push­ing for sev­eral ini­tia­tives aimed at re­strict­ing ac­cess to guns for groups of peo­ple who have proven to be a threat.

“I’ve said for years we need to do more to keep guns out of the hands of the men­tally ill and peo­ple with crim­i­nal back­grounds,” Ho­gan said.

Ho­gan said he sup­ported “red flag” leg­is­la­tion, which would al­low fam­ily mem­bers or law en­force­ment to pe­ti­tion the court for an or­der that would pro­hibit peo­ple from pos­sess­ing firearms or am­mu­ni­tion if deemed by a judge to be a dan­ger to themselves or oth­ers.

He called for fed­eral action to in­sti­tute a univer­sal back­ground check sys­tem.

“It is long past time for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to fi­nally take action on this com­mon sense mea­sure,” Ho­gan said. “They need to get it done.”

Ho­gan said cur­rent laws pro­hibit­ing firearm pos­ses­sion by a per­son con­victed of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence need to be strength­ened and clar­i­fied.

“It is well known that dan­ger­ous com­bi­na­tion can have dis­as­trous ef­fects,” Ho­gan said, re­fer­ring to the re­cent mur­der of Prince Ge­orge’s County Po­lice Cpl. Mu­jahid Ramzzid­din.

Ho­gan said he also sup­ported leg­is­la­tion ban­ning bump stocks.

Fi­nally, Ho­gan talked about pro­posed leg­is­la­tion, cur­rently in the state’s se­nate, to toughen penal­ties for peo­ple com­mit­ting vi­o­lent crimes with guns.

“Mary­land al­ready had some of tough­est gun laws in the coun­try when I took of­fice, but that didn’t stop 343 peo­ple from be­ing gunned down and killed in Bal­ti­more City last year,” Ho­gan said. “Crim­i­nals don’t usu­ally fol­low gun laws, or mur­der laws, or drug laws.”

Ho­gan said the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion must be passed to stop re­peat vi­o­lent of­fend­ers.

“If you com­mit a crime with a gun, we need to get you off the streets and into jail. If you’re a re­peat vi­o­lent of­fender, we need to put you in jail,” Ho­gan said. “This re­volv­ing door of peo­ple shoot­ing peo­ple and then be­ing let back on the street has been go­ing on for too long.”

Ho­gan con­cluded his re­marks by re­it­er­at­ing his com­mit­ment to pub­lic safety.

“I want to be very clear: My most im­por­tant re­spon­si­bil­ity is keep­ing the cit­i­zens of Mary­land safe, and the most im­por­tant re­spon­si­bil­ity we all have is to keep our chil­dren safe,” Ho­gan said. “Let’s get it done to­gether.”

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