Bill Proposes Armed, Retired Cops To Be Put In N.J. Schools
Trenton – Bill (S2983) has been proposed before the state Legislature that would create a new category of police officers to station armed, retired cops under the age of 65 years inside schools in New Jersey.
“Class Three” special police officers will be established to provide security at both public and private schools. Class Three officers will work during regular school hours but would not replace the specially trained full-time school resource officers, who are police officers stationed at some of these schools. They will also not be eligible for the same benefits as those regular police officers.
The jurisdiction of these Class Three officers will be limited to school grounds.
The state Senate Law and Public Safety Committee approved the bill Thursday, which was drafted in the wake of the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. However, it is not clear if the bill will get a full vote before the end of the legislative session next week.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Morris), said, “You’re not paying the pension benefits and all the other benefits that are necessary to put a police officer full-time.”
Retired officers under the age of 65 years, who left the police department in good standing, will be eligible for the designation. However, they would be required to meet the same firearm qualifications as active-duty police officers.
Some schools hire private security guards to patrol their halls. Many schools across the state have had retired police officers for several years to serve a similar function. These officers are under shared service agreements with local departments.
Little Egg Harbor Township Police Chief Richard Buzby testified in favor of the bill. According to him, “Private security is better than nothing, but hardly better. The response to any emergency within a district is going to fall to law enforcement at some point.”