A major school district in New Jersey will place armed retired police officers in its buildings until at least the end of the 2022-2023 school year.
The Middletown School Board unanimously approved the measure earlier this week following a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, which killed 19 students and two teachers.
The largest K-12 district in Monmouth County with more than 9,200 students, Middletown will have a Class III Special Officer in each of its 16 schools.
Class III officers must have retired within the past three years and be under the age of 65, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association.
“This action, along with increased funding for mental health services, is a commitment from our administration, council and township to put our children first,” said the council’s vice president. education, Jacquelin Tobacco, in a press release.
The district and township reached an agreement in which officers will be paid $50 per hour through the end of the 2021-22 school year and no more than $35 per hour during the 2022 school year. -23, according to a Letter of Intent.
The NJSBA could not immediately be reached for information on how many other districts in the state have armed guards in schools.
The addition of Class III officers will bolster security measures already in place at the school, a police department spokesperson said Thursday.
“Schools already have excellent school measures,” Deputy Chief Paul Bailey said by telephone on Thursday. “It has always been a big priority and now we will have a permanent presence in place.”
The police department will be looking to hire Class III officers in the coming weeks. The title of Class III officers was established by the state lawn in 2016. Unlike Class I and Class II officers, Class III officers are authorized to bear arms.
The city council of Middletown is expected to discuss the measure at its workshop meeting on Monday.
Municipal authorities could not be immediately reached on Thursday.
A day after the shooting in Texas, Acting State Attorney General Matthew Platkin said he had ordered state police and the state’s 21 county prosecutors to “increase the presence of law enforcement in New Jersey schools effective immediately.”
Middletown Police said in the aftermath of the Uvalade massacre that “the public may observe an increase in the presence of uniformed police officers and marked patrol cars on the township’s elementary, middle and high school campuses.”
Superintendent Mary Walker said the district will continue to work with police to keep schools in the district safe.
“Cooperation between Middletown Police and our school district is critical to maintaining a safe school environment,” Walker said last week. “We appreciate the support they provide on a day-to-day basis to ensure the safety of our students, staff and visitors, and their expertise as we continually assess our safety procedures and practices.”
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Jeff Goldman can be reached at [email protected]