- Associated Press - Monday, August 22, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland has been focusing more on school security as disruptions on campus increase nationwide.

According to the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network, which tallies media reports, there were at least 1,267 bomb threats in schools across the country during the last academic year, roughly twice as many as in 2012-2013. That works out to about eight bomb threats per school day last year, researcher Amy Klinger said.

Some come in the form of automated “robo-calls.” In January, authorities investigated at least 13 of these bomb threats called in on the same day in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

To better handle such security threats, state lawmakers approved forming the Maryland Center for School Safety along with a sweeping gun-control measure in response to the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The center works with local school systems, law enforcement agencies, state and local government, community organizations and parents to provide a coordinated approach to school safety, including training and technical assistance.

“We share best practices,” said its executive director, Edward Clarke. “We help them communicate with one another.”

The center has an office in Maryland’s fusion center, where local, state and federal officials analyze intelligence together.

“We’re getting notified in real time, so it’s very, very timely and accurate information that we’re able to share and obtain by being located there in the state fusion center,” Clarke said.

National School Safety and Security Services, an Ohio-based consulting firm, said it has studied more than 800 threats around the country in the first half of the previous academic year, up from 315 in a similar span a year earlier. Ohio had the most, with 64. Maryland had 12, ranking 22nd in the nation.

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