Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Anthony Bucco and Joseph Lagana to provide New Jersey law enforcement with the resources they need to protect local schools has passed the Senate Education Committee.
Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Anthony Bucco and Joseph Lagana to provide New Jersey law enforcement with resources to protect local schools has passed the Senate Education Committee. (Flickr)
The Bucco/Lagana bill, S-2676, would require school boards to provide law enforcement with copies of blue prints and maps of schools and school grounds.
“Local police officers must have access to school blueprints to ensure they are never blind before entering the building during a crisis,” Bucco said. “In a true emergency, a 30-second delay could be the difference between a child making it out of the building alive, or dying inside. We have to make sure law enforcement officials have all of the information they need to protect students and teachers from harm. Giving them a map of the school is a commonsense way to do that. ”
Current State Board of Education regulations require all school districts to have a memorandum of agreements with law enforcement authorities.
This bipartisan bill, S-2676, would direct a board of education and chief school administrator of a nonpublic school to provide revised copies to law enforcement whenever there is a change to the blueprints or maps.
The lawmakers noted that having access to current blueprints for local schools and school grounds will provide police with critical information and help them to make decisions in events, such as an active shooter situation.
“In an emergency situation, it may be crucial to the safety of students and teachers that the law enforcement responding know the layout of the school they are going into,” said Senator Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Whether there is an active shooter or an individual who needs immediate medical attention, having access to the blueprints of the school and being able to take the most strategic route to the situation could be the difference between life and death.”
As part of ongoing efforts to strengthen protections for students, the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee also passed an expansion of a 2016 law sponsored by Senator Anthony Bucco creating “class three officers.” Class three officers are retired-in-good standing law enforcement officials who provide security at New Jersey schools.
S-3245 expands the definition of class three officers to include retired officers who have served in federal or bi-state agencies, such as the Port Authority.
“Creating a special class of law enforcement officers to protect schools statewide is one of the most innovative and effective school security policies we have advanced in recent years,” Senator Bucco said. “Just last month, voters approved a bond act that will ensure more schools can participate in this program. By opening up these positions to a broader range of law enforcement officials, we can ensure that school officials can choose from a large enough pool of candidates who are uniquely qualified to meet their security needs.”
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