About half of the Baltimore school police force -- 42 officers -- will soon receive bullet-resistant vests, according to Larry Burgan, chief of school police.
Mr. Burgan said yesterday that Dr. Patsy Baker Blackshear, the deputy school superintendent, authorized the purchase of the vests two weeks ago.
Money for the vests was included in this fiscal year's school budget, but the purchases were put on hold when city agencies were forced to cut back on expenses because of dwindling revenue, Mr. Burgan said.
The police chief said the vests, costing about $250 each, will be purchased through the city police department in order to get a cheaper rate. Forty-two of the 91 officers on the force will be fitted for the vests at a cost of about $10,500, he said.
Mr. Burgan said that only officers who carry firearms outside of the schools will be outfitted with the vests. Officers assigned inside the schools are unarmed. "I have felt that only officers who are expected to respond to situations with firearms should wear the vests," he said.
The City Union of Baltimore has filed a grievance with the school system contending that the entire force should be allowed to wear the bullet-resistant vests. Union officials cited the officer who was wounded during a scuffle with a student at Roland Park Middle School on Feb. 24 as reason enough to give the vests to all of the officers.