Worcester County Sheriff's Dept. Looking To Arm Schools With Arm - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Worcester County Sheriff's Dept. Looking To Arm Schools With Armed Officers

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WORCESTER COUNTY, Md. - Law enforcement in Worcester County crunched the numbers and put a price tag on the cost to increase safety in area schools.

The Sandy Hook tragedy prompted a call for action, to heighten security in our schools nationwide, and now the Worcester County Sheriff's Department is responding.

"It's paramount that we have an armed police officer there who can make an arrest, who has been trained properly, who can make that split second decision whether to use deadly force," said Lt. Andy McGee, of the Worcester County Sheriff's Department.

The goal is to have 13 new deputies for each public school. The projected price is $1.7 million.

Police broke things down for WMDT. They say the base salary for a deputy is around $42,000. The cost of their patrol car is about $27,000, and the Tough Book system inside their car costs about $5,000. To hire one deputy, officials say it will cost the department about $121,000.

"The reason that cost is so high is because Ford doesn't make a sedan anymore, so we have to go to an SUV style vehicle," said Lt. McGee. He explained that the department is now shelling out more than $10,000 in those SUV vehicles, rather than the Crown Victoria they used to buy.

Worcester County School officials say they're backing this proposal and hope to add new safety features, like a buzzer entry system and magnetic key card for administrators coming back into the building from those portable classrooms.

"The governor has set aside $25 million for school safety, and school systems across our state are waiting to see how much is going to be allocated and we're in the same mode," said Barbara Witherow, Safety Committee Member and Coordinator for Public Relations for Worcester County Schools.

Police say if they're awarded grants it will most likely cover three years. After that, the county will have to absorb the costs. This proposal will be pitched at the Worcester County Commissioner's meeting around 10:40 a.m. Tuesday.

Right now the proposal is only to have officers in public schools, not private schools. However, police say they're in the beginning stages and will look into that later on.

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