Carroll County Public Schools has suspended all student field trips to the city due to concerns about crime.
School system spokeswoman Brenda Bowers said on a phone call Wednesday morning that the administration made the decision “because of the escalating violence in Baltimore City.”
Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees advised school system administrators last week to cancel all Baltimore-bound field trips for the time being, according to a report from the Carroll County Times.
“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,” said a statement from the sheriff’s office given to the newspaper.
The move was prompted in part by a parent’s observation of a teenager holding a gun in the bleachers at Rash Field during a recent field trip. Baltimore police said in an email release on Nov. 3 that officers approached the 15-year-old about a curfew violation, but saw he had an apparent handgun on him. They arrested him without incident; the weapon turned out to be a very real-looking replica.
Other recent incidents around the harbor have drawn negative attention to the city, including a late October assault on a family visiting from New Jersey by a group of teenagers, a man getting pushed into the harbor by some hooligans while jogging, and, more gravely, the carjacking of a woman and the murder of a Federal Hill bartender in the same area along Key Highway in Locust Point.
A Baltimore Police Department spokesman said staff are unavailable to look into violent crime statistics for the Inner Harbor and downtown today due to Det. Sean Suiter‘s funeral.
While administrators made the decision for safety reasons, not all parents are pleased. Baltimore’s harbor is dotted with educational resources and tourist attractions not found anywhere else in the area, including as the Maryland Science Center, the Museum of Industry and the American Visionary Art Museum.
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz jumped into the fray Tuesday with some criticism from the suburbs.
“Carroll County’s decision to cancel all field trips to Baltimore City is a disservice to its students, Baltimore’s cultural and arts institutions, and to the citizens of the City of Baltimore,” he said in a statement. “This is a very challenging time for our region, when neighbors need to support each other.”
He noted Baltimore County students visited city attractions an estimated 172,000 times in 2016. “These visits continue to take place without incident,” he said.
Bowers said the school system’s administrative offices have since received around 20 emails or phone calls from parents. Asked whether the responses were mostly positive or negative, she said “they’re running about 50/50.”
The suspension isn’t permanent. The school system could restore field trips in January if the apparent crime bump lets up.
“They’re reviewing trips on a case-by-case basis, and they’ll reevaluate at the end of the first semester,” Bowers said.