MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Ever since the shooting at Magruder High School on Friday that left a 10th-grade student in critical condition, it’s reopened the conversation of whether schools are safer with police in the buildings.

After 19 years, this was the first year the school resource officers program was removed at MCPS, but this is also the first time a student was shot on school grounds. But County Executive Marc Elrich said he is not sure if SROs presence would have made any difference in this situation. 

“They are not personal bodyguards, and it’s kind of hard to keep track of when people decide they’re going to go into a bathroom and have whatever transpired transpires,” said Elrich. “There’s no panacea that says if only there had been an SRO, there’s no way this would have happened because I don’t think anyone can say that.”

Instead of school resource officers, the county introduced community resource officers, not in the buildings and responded as needed. On the day of the Magruder High School shooting, the first law enforcement officer to arrive on the scene was the sheriff’s deputy assigned as Magruder’s community engagement officer. MCPD Chief Jones says he has no plans to restore the previous program but will modify the current community engagement officer program, especially at high schools. 

“It’s not necessarily required that an SRO be in a school but, therefore, that there is adequate law enforcement coverage,” said Jones. “So that’s how we addressed the adequate law enforcement coverage by having the CEOs assigned to each of the school clusters.”

On the other hand Council, President Gabe Albornoz made it clear he thinks the conversation about bringing officers back in the buildings should be revisited. Also, State’s Attorney John McCarthy said that he is disappointed the county moved so quickly. Before a study group focusing on whether officers should be in the building or not was completed, a decision was made. 

Currently, there’s a petition on change.org with almost 5,000 signatures saying removing school resource officers was a big mistake.