Baltimore City School Police recently held an event at a local school to emphasize safety and build relationships with students and the community.
Nearly a dozen police officers with the Baltimore City School Police greeted more than 100 students from Sandtown-Winchester Achievement Academy after their dismissal on September 9.
Baltimore City School Police Chief Akil Hamm, who helped organize the event, said he hopes it will leave a positive impact on young people.
“To be able to engage the young people and let them know that we need to talk this out and not fight this out. We’ll have safe streets,” Hamm said, per local NBC affiliate WBAL-TV.
The event comes after several shootings in the community, including a fatal shooting of a student at the Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School and another shooting at Carver Vocational Technical High School on September 7.
Police also arrested a 16-year-old student of ConneXions Academy/Bard High School on September 8 for bringing a loaded handgun to school after an administrator learned about the weapon on social media.
Parents at the event were glad to mingle with police officers.
“I feel safer coming up here to get my kids knowing that they are up here,” Kenneth Ford, father of student Kenneth Ford Jr., told reporters.
Ford’s son said he also appreciated the officers, who were there to “make sure nobody is doing nothing bad.”
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison dropped by the event as well to talk with students and parents.
“I think it means a lot to kids to show, number one, we care and, number two, we are approachable. We can come out, be on the schoolyard and throw a few balls and have a few laughs with the kids. We are a part of the very community we serve,” Harrison told reporters.
Sean Colbert, with anti-violence organization Safe Streets, also attended the event.
“It’s our future. So, I mean, we need to make sure they understand what we are trying to do as far as non-violence and how we interact with each other and resolve our conflicts,” Colbert said.
Safe Streets is overseen by the Baltimore City Health Department and the John Hopkins School of Public Health. According to its website, Safe Streets is “an evidence-based, public health program to reduce gun violence among youth ages 14 to 24.”
Parents said the entire community has to step up to curb violence.
“With everything that’s going on in Baltimore City, we should all get it together and clean it up,” said parent Kristine Walker.
Police are still investigating both of the shootings. There are 236 ongoing homicide investigations in Baltimore so far this year.