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Armed guards, panic buttons. A look at the increased security in N.J. schools this year.

Olivia Rizzo | NJ Advance Media

Over the past eight months, school safety and security has been almost a constant conversation for schools around the country. In the wake of the tragic Parkland, Florida school shooting, many districts have made a significant effort to reevaluate their safety protocols and procedures. 

In New Jersey, school districts and public officials have been debating the best methods to keep students, staff and community members safe. 

Many school districts have completed renovation projects over the summer, adding double door security vestibules to their buildings. Some have decided to add security officers or armed guards to their campuses. 

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Districts across the state have made the decision to hire some form of school security officer for their buildings. These officers can range from school resource officers (SROs) — police officers who are assigned full-time to protect the children, staff, and property in New Jersey’s public schools — to special law enforcement officers (SLEOs) — retired police officer considered part-time school employees. 

There are different classes of SLEO, ranging from Class I to Class III. Class III officers are authorized to carry firearms when working, while Class I and Class II are not. 

New Jersey schools are also focusing on more training methods. Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (ALICE) training is meant to show teachers, school staff and administrators proactive methods of  handling the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter. 

Over the past two weeks, NJ Advance Media emailed representatives from 590 public school districts in the state asking about new security procedures being added for this school year. Below are responses we got from districts in 18 New Jersey counties adding security procedures.

Atlantic County
  • Brigantine School District — Adding armed guards to the district
Bergen County
  • Fort Lee School District — Adding Class III Special Police Officers
  • Fair Lawn Public School District- Adding a Class III Special Police Officer to the elementary and middle schools, Hired Director of Security to oversee all buildings and make sure all safety protocols are followed.
Burlington County
  • Lumberton Township School District — Improved camera system in Lumberton Middle School, vestibules in all schools, and security camera upgrades. Exterior locks being re-keyed and magnets on doors for lockdowns.
  • Mount Laurel School District — Two full-time police officers assigned specifically to the eight elementary schools, new security vestibules. Reinforcement of procedures for school visitors and review of district policies and regulations.
  • Cinnaminson Township Public School District — Adding two Class III Special Law Enforcement Officers.
  • Maple Shade School District — Will be hiring Class III officers for the district.
  • Delran School District — Adding armed security guards, adding security vestibules, appointed a District Security Manager and District Security Specialist.

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On – 05 Sep, 2018 By