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County Executive Kittleman announces additional funding to address security at county schools 

County Executive Kittleman announces additional funding to address security at county schools 

March 27, 2018                                

Media Contact:
Paul Milton, Special Assistant to the County Executive, 410-313-4439

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman today announced he will include $1.1 million in his FY2019 Capital Budget to enhance the security of school buildings and include nearly $800,000 in his Operating Budget to hire three additional School Resource Officers (SROs) and a supervisor.

Kittleman said he was making this funding a priority in his upcoming budgets after a recent Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) security assessment determined that not all school buildings are fully secure.

“I was deeply disturbed to learn that there were some security issues that need to be addressed,” said Kittleman. “There is nothing more important than the safety of our students, teachers, administrators and staff. This additional funding will help the school system address any short comings.”

Kittleman made the announcement at a press conference Tuesday morning outside Mt. Hebron High School in Ellicott City. He was joined by HCPSS Interim Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano and County Police Chief Gary L. Gardner. Kittleman will present the FY2019 Capital Budget to the County Council this Thursday, March 29. The county’s FY2019 Operating Budget will be presented to the Council Friday, April 20. 

Kittleman said the capital funding will go toward building entrance security enhancements and repairs to doors at some schools. He said approximately $769,000 will be included in his operating budget to pay for the salaries, equipment and vehicles for the new SROs. Those officers will be assigned to the county’s middle schools, doubling the number allocated there now. In addition to the three new SROs, the county will add a supervising sergeant’s position.

At the press conference, Dr. Martirano spoke of the importance of working collaboratively with county and community partners to establish a safe learning environment for all children and school staff.

"Keeping our students and staff safe is my number one priority and it requires the collaborative efforts of our county and community partners," said Martirano. "From immediate physical measures such as installing buzzer systems at each high school to long-term cultural shifts such as cultural proficiency training, keeping our schools safe requires a multi-pronged approach. I am encouraged by the investments announced today and appreciate the county’s commitment to help us implement the necessary security resources in our schools."

Howard County Police Chief Gary Gardner said police have already taken additional measures to increase security and safety at county schools. Most recently, Gardner and Kittleman have expanded the police department’s mandatory foot patrol program, which in the past has included places like shopping centers and apartment complexes, to include schools. These interactive visits will enable officers to be familiar with the layout of the schools in the event of an emergency; develop positive relationships with students; and get to know the administrators and front office staff at the schools in their patrol beats. 

“We have had a strong partnership with Howard County schools for many years, which has grown even stronger through our school resource officer program,” said Police Chief Gary Gardner. “Police officers and school administrators share the same goal of ensuring the security of every student in our county. There is no greater priority than creating a safe environment for our children.”

Gardner said police are also planning for upcoming small-scale drills at schools during times when they are closed to help prepare patrol officers in case of an emergency. Gardner also talked about the possible expansion of video access from inside the schools during an emergency or call for service. Currently, the county’s 911 Call Center has access, but Gardner wants to expand that access to include patrol supervisors.