In light of the ongoing wave of violent crime in Baltimore, school officials in nearby Carroll County have been forced to halt school-related trips to the city - including a marching band’s scheduled performance in the Mayor’s Christmas Parade this weekend - citing "escalating violence." The field trip ban was imposed by the Carroll County Sheriff's Office "in response to parent concerns regarding the safety of students." Here's more from The Baltimore Sun:
Schools spokeswoman Carey Gaddis said the order is based on a recommendation from the county Sheriff’s Office, and will stay in place until the beginning of the next semester in late January, when it will be revisited. She said the order was sent to school principals last week.
Sheriff James T. DeWees recommended the measure during a meeting with school system officials “in response to parent concerns regarding the safety of students during field trips to venues in Baltimore City,” according to a statement from the sheriff’s office. The move is intended to “limit the risk to students and staff.”
“In light of recent violence in the traditional tourist areas of the city, the sheriff agrees that the best course of action is to temporarily suspend travel to Baltimore City venues,” spokesman Cpl. Jonathan Light wrote in the statement.
Of course, as we pointed out recently (see: America's Urban War Zone: Baltimore Doubles Chicago's Homicide Rate In 2017), Baltimore is on track to exceed 400 homicides in 2017 for the first time in the city's history and has more than doubled Chicago's homicide rate on a per capita basis.
As the Sun notes, two field trips to Baltimore have been cancelled so far after parent's received a rather disturbing email from Carroll County schools spokeswoman Cary Gaddis citing "escalating violence."
Field trips are still being considered on a “case-by-case basis,” Gaddis said, but the policy has caused at least two forthcoming trips to be canceled: a planned field trip Friday to the Maryland Science Center by third-grade students from Westminster Elementary School, and Francis Scott Key High School’s band appearance in the Christmas parade in Hampden.
Both schools cited the county’s new policy as the reason for the cancellations.
“Due to escalating violence reported in Baltimore City, and consultation with law enforcement and Maryland Center for School Safety, we will not be sending any students on field trips to Baltimore City at this time,” said an email sent to Westminster parents and guardians Nov. 22.
"When they’re not contained but they’re walking around an area, walking around the city ... we don’t have as much control,” she said. The Sheriff’s Office does not send a deputy along with students on field trips, she said.
Of course, support of the field trip ban is mixed with at least one Democratic legislator in Baltimore blasting the decision of the Carroll County Sheriff's Office as "misguided and disappointing" while declaring the city is "still a safe place to visit and walk around and explore our cultural sites"...
Delegate Brook Lierman, a Baltimore Democrat who lives downtown, called the notion that the city is unsafe for visitors “misguided and disappointing.”
“While we are experiencing an uptick in crime, there’s no denying that, it is still a safe place to visit and walk around and explore our cultural sites,” she said. “I love living in Downtown Baltimore and want and hope students from around the state can come visit the great neighborhoods and institutions we have in the city.”
Andy Smith, the Hampstead parent who sent the email to the sheriff and school officials, said he is satisfied with the school system’s decision.
"This is one of those things where being overly cautious is probably the best policy, rather than waiting for something to happen that you can’t undo,” Smith said.
“We’re trying to keep in mind the safety of our students,” she said. “That’s something we have to pay attention to.”
...it seems that Washington D.C. isn't the only place where politicians find it convenient to ignore statistics.